The hospitality industry is no stranger to crisis and with every aspect of the industry impacted by the pandemic, leaders have been quick to respond to changing concerns, rules, measures and restrictions. As quickly as COVID-19 impacted the world, hotels have responded just as swiftly, adhering to new health standards and pivoting their offerings to build a path to recovery and a reimagined future of hospitality.
Over the last few months, evolving guest preferences have played a significant role in shaping the overall hospitality and travel offerings. As hoteliers welcome back guests in the post-COVID world, contactless and touchless digital services are set to become an integral operational activity. Smart technology and enhanced services will be key to success in instilling consumer confidence as they return to hotels with a hyper-conscious state of mind with regard to health, hygiene and safety.
Sanitised arrivals and tech/app integration:
Technically, a hotel’s battle against the spread of virus begins even prior to the guest’s arrival at the hotel. Therefore, hoteliers are extensively investing in CDC approved standards of safety and sanitisation. At Chalet Hotels, our properties have implemented robust measures benchmarked to global standards. We benefit from our global brand partners – Marriott and Accor who have implemented the latest and superior solutions from across the world at our Hotels in India. In addition to this, we are in the process of implementing keyless mobile check-in option at our Marriott branded hotels, where guests can directly walk to their allotted room and access it using the keyless mobile check-in app. Guests will also be able to view and sign the registration card and guest folio on the touch screen tablets, through our digital check-in facility. ‘Touchless Hospitality’ is one such change that we foreseebecoming the norm. We are adopting changes which will provide both assurance and delight to the guests.
Redefining dine-in and in-room services:
Traditionally a high-touch industry, guests are now demanding hotels reduce the number of physical touchpoints. All outlets that are open at the hotels now feature digital menus that are accessible via QR Codes. We have also enabled digitalization of services like room directory, TV guide, IRD, spa booking, laundry pickup, and hotel info along with an integrated digital payment wherever required.
It is also quite possible that in the near future guests will be met with the latest touch-free technology that includes self-service kiosks for check-in/out, mobile room entry, AI-powered in-room, voice-activated assistants and mobile apps that let guests navigate the property and each touchpoint on their terms. Voice-activated technology is becoming commonplace with guests likely to seek out properties offering hands-free control to minimize contact with light switches, TV remotes, thermostats, draperies and more.
For the hospitality industry, which relies extensively on its employees for guest experience, employee training on protocols, meeting new expectations, sensitivity, and the ability to adapt to the new normal is critical. At Chalet, we have focused on cross-training our people across functions, making them tech-savvy and ensuring that they are fully trained on the latest health and safety protocols. The aim is to help employees carry out operations swiftly and efficiently, while keeping health and safety protocols at the core. The use of technology in streamlining of logistics has gained significance, whether through mobile apps or IoT, to ensure reduced physical interaction& enhance experience.
Under the ‘new normal’ Chalet Hotels continues its commitment to serve customers by optimally leveraging technology; our guests’ safety and experience being our foremost priority.
Hotels must consider mapping of the digital guest journey to identify all touch points where they can interject meaningful communications, support, and offers, while also focusing on those solutions which provide a data-driven, personalized guest experience. Far from (social) distancing them from guests, these new technologies are a long-term investment that will be integral to the success of hotels and continued guest loyalty in the future.