Developments usually come out of extremely challenging circumstances. The world went through a crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This major health issue affected almost everything worldwide, and the hospitality industry was one of the hardest-affected economic sectors. Flight cancellations, border shutdowns, on-and-off lockdowns, travel restrictions, and social distancing, caused a substantial fall in demand for travel and put many businesses at risk.
However, the industry’s key players were able to take quick action and innovate creative solutions to respond to the changes and keep the industry afloat. With the help of innovative contactless technology solutions, the hoteliers and accommodation providers were able to address health concerns, reduce the number of physical touchpoints, minimise personal contact and emphasise taking measures to keep their guests safe.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 altered peoples’ preferences, expectations and priorities, besides the key trends impacting the hospitality industry. The new concerns, rules, measures and restrictions increased the demand for automation and contactless technology. As a result, it accelerated the hospitality industry’s major shift from a high-touch sector towards a mere contactless business.
The 2020 trends can help us see the overview of the post-pandemic lifestyle and foretell the future of hospitality. This period has shown people that they should be thankful for technology and that a touch-free future is in store for the hospitality industry in 2021.
The arrival of the vaccines has brought back optimism to start travelling safely and confidently again. Soon many countries will open up their borders, and people will start planning their vacations.
The takeaways from the pandemic call for significant reformations in the industry and a great demand for new technologies such as video communication, real-time messaging, self-check-ins and check-outs, online payments, cryptocurrencies, self-service apps, and augmented or virtual reality, and cloud-based and integrated solutions to provide the guests with a seamless experience before arrival, during the stay and after their check-out.
Advanced PMS and CRM systems
Thanks to numerous online solutions like PMSes, channel managers, availability calendars and CRM systems, check-in and check-out processes can be done without any human interference from A to Z. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the significance of these tools more than ever. As a result, we will witness the bolder and stronger than ever presence and evolution of these efficient short-term rental management tools in the future of hospitality.
Mobile Apps and QR Codes
Mobile concierge applications are blessings both for vacationers and accommodation providers. They enable the guests to build their itinerary form their smartphones before leaving where they are and helping the hoteliers and short-term rental managers anticipate their guests’ needs before their arrival. This way, the hosts can prepare a highly personalised stay for their guests. The future of hospitality will represent the advanced applications that enable the guests to customise their room decorations and amenities.
QR codes can provide the travellers access to informative material they need for a comfortable travel experience including contact details, event promotions, scannable menus, city and hotel maps, feature menus and feedback surveys.
Virtual and Augmented Reality Simulation
Guests can take virtual tours to explore the hotel or properties to see the listings’ locations and amenities digitally and check the hotels’ 360-degree view before clicking on the booking button. The 3D technology can help hosts provide their potential guests with greater engagement and turn more lookers into bookers.
Touchless Face Recognition Systems
Accurate identification is a real security need for hotel and rental managers who need to know who their guests are before they arrive or to make sure the people who stay in their property are the same people who have made reservations.
Face Facial recognition is a technology solution that can meet both hosts and guests’ requirements. Face verification stations, check-in kiosks, or concierge robots will give the hosts a picture of their guests and reduce front desk waiting times for the guests. This accelerated hassle-free check in process will lead to stellar guests experience and reviews, as well as reducing the number of reception staff and workload.
Chatbots are great solutions for 24/7 automated guest communications and building guest relationships and customer support. Bots provide potential guests with FAQs and quick answers to the hotels’ safety and health policies and measures. They can handle guests’ requests and facilitate the internal workflows by having access to an extensive database of information.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a more significant role in the future of the hospitality industry. Chatbots will unquestionably carry out more tasks like allowing the guests making swift payments in live chats. Their language processing abilities will be improved. As a result, they will be able to understand the queries and conversations better and modify their responses to sound more human alike.
Besides, these inexpensive virtual assistants will fascinate guests by mostly upgrading to voice bots and providing a seamless experience of intelligence-based communication.
During Stay and In-room Services
The experience of using self-service technologies during the pandemic will play a critical role in transforming the in-room guest experience in the future of hospitality. Tech-savvy hotels will become mainstream, and the guests will be able to control every step of their journey from booking and check-in processes to in-room preferences using hotel apps on their smartphones.
The guests will be able to adjust the environment based on their preferences and personalise their stay only with a single touch. Smartphone apps will enable them to do many things like opening and closing smart door locks, setting room temperature or lighting, turning on the television or surfing their favourite TV channels.
On the other hand, the smart devices will take the burden off the front desk staff shoulders, and there will be less requirement for in-person contact. As a result, many staff would be able to work remotely and coordinate with each other through online meetings or video and conference calls. They can take advantage of the ever-evolving video and web conferencing software.
Using cash or electronic payments are giving their place to fast and secure contactless payments in hospitality. Contactless payment enables guests to make swift payments by merely placing their debit and credit card or smartphones close to the point of sale terminal with no need for PIN or verifications. This technology is relatively new and has not been adopted by many hoteliers yet because people are still feeling convenient using mobile payments, but will become widespread soon and significantly impact guest experience.
The automatons were at work at hotels, restaurants and airports long ago before the pandemic. The most famous hotel helping robots are Aloft Hotels’ helping robot called Botlr, Marriott hotels’ welcoming Mario, Hilton’s concierge robot called Connie, Henn-na Hotel’s autonomous front desk staff, and InterContinentals’ luggage-carrying robot called Dash.
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the presence of robots in hotels more than ever. As the manual process of disinfecting the surfaces were dangerous for the cleaning staff, the disinfecting and sanitising robots were deployed to disinfect the surfaces. This, in turn, reduced the cleaning time and the need for human staff.
Robots will take over the hospitality industry in future more than the past. We will witness robots manoeuvring around hotel buildings delivering snacks, drinks, groceries, towels, toiletries, or carrying the guests’ luggage. Housekeeping robots will vacuum and scrub the floors and change linens. The robots will become commonplace and able to carry out tasks more efficiently and won’t make human errors.
Advanced CRM Tools
When the guests check out a hotel or vacation rental, the hosts should reach out to them to ensure that they have received a 5-star guest experience and will leave them positive reviews. Many hoteliers and other accommodation providers ask their guests for feedback and send them surveys to evaluate their performance and retain their past guests by building lasting brand loyalty.
A robust contact details database is key to keeping in touch with the guests after their check out and encouraging them to come back. The future guest CRMs will be able to collect more information on guest behaviou rand demands by connecting to the automated solutions deployed in a hotel to both help improve the services using guests’ feedback and implement marketing strategies.
Internet of Things (IOT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications
A network of digital devices connected through the internet will provide the guests with an exceptional, highly automated and personalised stay in a room capable of doing numerous automated activities and automate the guest data collection. Moreover, IOT can help the hoteliers with room service improvements, operational and maintenance management, collecting information for the guest CRM, automating in-room features, facilitating inventory and stock management and saving energy consumption.
The Increased Demand for Sustainable Accommodation
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the environmental and social issues into light more than before. The quarantine period, social isolation and health crisis caused by this worldwide public health concern, has made people more concerned about addressing environmental issues. People have gained more awareness about the impact of their behaviour on the environment and how the environment’s degradation can threaten their lives. As a result, social responsibility and environmental issues have become a core value and priority in people’s lives and, inevitably, their travel demands. Many vacationers prefer to stay at sustainable green hotels which avoid using disposable plastics, eliminate unnecessary paper consumption, using local supplies and implement energy-saving solutions.
Less Demand for Business Travel
Working remotely from home during the lockdowns has proven the efficiency of virtual meetings and conferences to the business world. Therefore, many business events will shift to digital meetings using online group meeting software. As a result, business travel demand will significantly decrease. Instead, vacationers will take more vacations and need work-friendly rooms equipped with high-speed internet.
Embracing technology at an extraordinary high pace is one of the hospitality industry’s main takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic. Experiencing the digitalisation of some processes during the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired the hospitality industry to harness technology’s power more than any time in the past to boost the guest experience.
To stay ahead of the curve in a highly technology-driven industry, the accommodation providers and hoteliers must make a long-term investment in new technologies. They will soon be able to offer their guests unique cutting-edge technology-driven stays ongoing more green and eco-friendly.