The hotel technology has been driven by the guests, not by the hoteliers themselves. The hoteliers have no choice but to stay focused and adapt to the trends to offer every guest a personalized experience throughout the stay or face the threat of losing their guests to the competition. So the buzzwords had been "hotel self check-in app," "hotel self check-in kiosk," "seamless," "innovation," "IoT," "AI (artificial intelligence)," "data-analytics & insights," "personalization," and the list goes on.
Usually, when the hotel sales teams are busy, it’s a positive sign, but during March 2020, they were busy with handling "cancellation calls." Suddenly there was COVID-19, and everything became different. And the word "touchless" or "contactless" is now the buzzword of the first magnitude.
The hotels were one of the hardest-hit industries or nearly collapsed. The good news is things are returning slowly but with extra safety measures, smiles behind masks, front desks behind large protective shields, and hand-sanitizer stations next to elevators - the new normal.
Likewise, now the contactless technology that was once considered “nice-have but not a must,” is a pre-requisite for a guest to book a hotel room or hoteliers to win a guest's confidence. So the hotel tech suppliers are coming up with various technologies, and there is a tremendous uptake of these technologies among the hoteliers too.
“The COVID19 pandemic became a wakeup call for the travel and tourism industry to accelerate investments in contactless technologies like biometric check-in at airports and keyless hotel entry, which significantly reduce potential risks associated with physical touchpoints.”Sneha Nigade, Disruptive Tech Analyst at GlobalData
But COVID-19 is not going to stay with us forever. The guests, let's say in a year or little more, would still be cautious about social distancing but not that
religious. What would be the future for these technologies that suddenly popped up during COVID-19?
Well, not all contactless technologies popped up overnight with COVID-19; some of them the hotels have been using for years such as kiosks, online check-in, keyless entry, mobile payment, food-ordering, in-room entertainment, etc. Things being what they are, these have become a necessity, although they used to be sort of luxury before COVID-19.
At the same time, there are technologies, came with COVID-19 like patients tracing tools, temperature check related, FAQ bots, or putting robots to disinfect hotel rooms, etc. These types of technologies might diminish with COVID-19.
And, there is another set of technologies, that too came overnight to address the COVID-19 situation, but seemingly they have the potential to stay post-pandemic era since they add values to existing hotel operations; a good example could be Marriott’s ultraviolet light technology for sanitizing keys and devices shared by guests and associates.
Self-check-in has been an evergreen of technologies that hotels have been using for years now, but as a luxury – probably not a piece of luxury anymore but a much
more pressing need today and in the post-pandemic guest-hotelier relationship.
Oracle Hospitality is at the forefront of assisting hotels by expediting integrations and empowering the third-party kiosk solution providers with their web self-service API technology, which are a great initiative and a positive sign of how hotels would enhance their guest services in the post-pandemic world. They even got one step closer to the third-party solutions providers with their brand new campaign, Innovation Week, to help them expedite their contactless check-in solutions available to the hoteliers.
While it reduces guest-staff contacts and allowing guests to pre-check-in from anywhere or bypassing hotel front-desks empowers and makes them feel
special. Because we prefer ATM instead of seeing bank tellers, and in the airports, we prefer using kiosks to check-in – why not in hotels?
Increase staff efficiency: The front office staff is overwhelmed when having to deal with long-standing queues to check-in as well as to look into other assignments, and most of the time, they can’t keep up with the workflow. It results in inefficiency and errors, which in turn becomes frustrated guests whining about your staff, and your hotel ends up earning a bad review on TripAdvisor.
Upsell & cross-sell: You can provide guests with options for available room upgrades with pictures (or even 360D rotatable images) to give them a sense of experience to appeal. Show them other hotel products such as spa, F & B, recreation to add to their booking.
If it’s during the pandemic, you can make use of kiosk HW built with contactless temperature sensors so that you can eliminate using another patient tracing software.
Contactless check-in is not new to the hotels, but it addresses the current pandemic situation on top of all the other goodies it offers. A hotel self check-in
kiosk solution with a mobile app having portal access for each guest throughout the stay would offer a higher satisfaction and a truly personalized experience as
the guests can order other services, food, housekeeping, or miscellaneous, check their bills anytime, and check out.
At the same time, the data hotels can collect to transform into actionable insights would be priceless for improving service quality, marketing, and retargeting efforts.