In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak brought about many extraordinary changes and challenges to the world and changed the face of many industries among which the tourism and hospitality industries received the hardest blows. The COVID-19 outbreak has pushed the main players of the hospitality industry to innovate and find creative solutions to reduce or entirely remove in-person interactions to overcome the travel restrictions; it has increased the comfort with the digital technologies and experiences and in-person events have given their place to their online counterparts.
As a result, the adoption of automation tools has taken a further step and the 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 has increased. Businesses in the hospitality industry are now spending more than ever on new technologies to enhance their guest experience.
Now, there are multiple novel ways through which hotels and vacation rentals can reach their guests and provide them with personalised services before their guests’ arrival, during their stay and after their check-out, all intended to keep up with the post-pandemic lifestyle. The 2020 trends can portray the tech-driven contactless future of the hospitality industry and give us a perspective into innovations in store for both guests and hosts.
Booking and Check-in Experiences
Before the pandemic, several hoteliers and vacation rental managers, especially the ones in charge of managing multiple properties across multiple locations, were taking advantage of automated online solutions for their check-in and check-out processes, and the COVID-19 popularised this trend up to the point that the hospitality business seems to move forward to a mostly tech-driven contactless future.
Digitalised personal concierge applications will allow guests to build their own itinerary form their smart devices before leaving home. These solutions will help hosts to anticipate guest needs before their arrival and prepare a highly personalised stay for them. These applications will grow to a level that will enable guests to even customise their room decorations and amenities.
VR (Virtual Reality) simulation will take guests to a virtual tour to the hotel rooms or properties to check the listings, their amenities and the view to make them sure of their choices, build trust, and as a result enhance their guest experience.
Facial recognition is another technological solution that can serve both hosts and guests. Short term rental managers 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 detection, check-in kiosks, or concierge robots will give hosts a picture of their guests and let guests check-in without the hassle of waiting at front desks.
Bots are inexpensive solutions for communication that can guarantee customer support. They can answer the guests’ questions or their requests by having access to a large database of information.
In-room and During Stay Experiences
Self-service technologies will play a critical role in transforming the in-room guest experience after the pandemic and will enable guests to not only take full control of their seamless check-in process through their smartphones, but also personalise their stay to a great degree. In addition, less requirement for in-person contact will make it easy for rental managers and staff to work remotely.
Smartphone mobile apps will carry out many tasks like opening and closing smart door locks, regulating room temperature or lighting and turning on the television set.
Contactless voice assistants like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa will receive many of guests’ requests and carry out some of their simple tasks.
Robots can play many roles in the contactless future of the hospitality industry. They are offering a high-quality guest experience, especially to hotel guests. They can be housekeepers and cleaning staff. They can work as butlers and deliver items to guests or navigate them to different parts of a hotel.
Post Check-out Experiences
Guest experience won’t come to an end when guests leave a property and return to their homes. It rather starts the engagement with previous guests to ensure they have delivered a 5-star guest experience, receive feedback and make them come back. The hospitality industry is fast-moving, and so are guests’ demands.
Therefore, companies need to keep up with the pace. As the 2020 pandemic has brought even more changes to demands, the players of the short term rental industry need to keep in touch with their clients more than ever to promote their data-driven marketing campaigns and build lasting brand loyalty.
Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications are the new achievements of the world of technology which can get connected to guest CRMs and collect more information on guest behaviour and demands to help the hosts improve their services and raise their standards accordingly.
The hospitality industry is embracing technology at an unprecedented pace. The digitalisation of certain processes during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about some inspiration for the whole vacation rental industry to implement in future to exceed guests’ expectations. Therefore, in order to be successful in a cutting-edge technology-driven industry, the rental organisations have to be a part of the industry’s transformation by investing in digital technology and keeping up with the changes to provide their guests with an amazing guest experience.