Air travel has begun to tick up and hotel occupancy rates have doubled since reaching lows in April. Americans are on the move again, but as travel resumes, it has a whole new look for both travelers and service providers. More people are opting for stays closer to home for shorter getaways, they are booking less time in advance than ever before and safety and cleaning procedures are a key focal point and deciding factor in many bookings – All of these factors are forcing the industry to adjust everything from marketing strategies to guest services.
The hotel industry is beginning to shift and embrace more innovative tech solutions to adjust to the global climate. Tech innovation was already on the horizon for the industry, and it’s being pushed forward faster by the pandemic to accommodate guests and safety requirements.
Here are three ways hotels are implementing tech to win back guests and enhance their experience.
Smart technology is already becoming a staple in many homes, and it is a natural choice as hotels look for contactless solutions. IoT devices can automate the entire guest experience and greatly reduce potential contact points, with technologies including keyless entry systems and voice-activated controls. Property automation system companies are catering specifically to the accommodations industry to make the integration of smart locks and devices easily accessible. Even, voice assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, can be used now to control a room’s smart TV, adjust the lights, close the curtains and more. At the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas, guests can even update housekeeping services through voice commands from their room.
As hotels look to minimize interactions, demand will grow for virtual concierge services and interactive chatbots that can provide 24/7 support to augment human staff. Chatbots can also provide personalized search results and answers, and have the capacity to upsell guests when there are relevant services and products available. One of the biggest benefits of deploying chatbots is that they can support dozens of languages, making it possible for a hotel to easily serve a multi-lingual clientele.
Branded Guest Apps
Accessing these services means that guests’ smartphones will increasingly be the keys to their entire stay – in a very literal sense. Hotels are investing heavily in building branded apps that are intended to be one-stop service portals for everything from reservations to room service. While nothing can replace the human touch of dedicated staff, increasingly when a guest needs something, the first place he or she will turn is to the app on their phone. For an industry that is used to thinking of service in a very human-centric way, this will create fundamental shifts in how hotels are staffed and how they reach out to their clients.
While larger hotel brands can easily invest in this technology and have already implemented many of these contactless solutions, it is adding more pressure for boutique and smaller hotel brands to find the resources to lean into technology solutions to keep pace.