U.S. air travel has increased to the highest levels since the World Health Organization declared the global COVID-19 pandemic, and as we start to see lockdown restrictions lift and travel increase, hotels need to be equipped with the latest safety technologies to reach cautious consumers looking to resume travel. When deciding on lodging, safety technology will be a main point of consideration, as nearly 85% of guests would like to see hotels utilizing technology to reduce direct contact. From temperature monitoring to self-service options and touchless applications, there are numerous technology options hotels are investing in to differentiate themselves amongst the competition in terms of guest safety.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to limit direct contact between guests and hotel staff, is to offer an option for self check-in. This can be done with the implementation of check-in kiosks in the lobby. When a guest arrives, they are able to enter their information themselves, confirm their reservation, and even fill out a health questionnaire. At these kiosks, hotels can include the use of a thermal imaging device so guests can check their temperatures. This can help to flag anyone that needs further screening and creates a record of exactly when a guest checked in, their temperature at the time, and other important information that can be referred to if they were to get sick during their stay.
A hotel’s self-service options shouldn’t stop in the lobby, but should also be included in guests’ rooms. Normally guests call the concierge or even go to the lobby to ask for assistance or service requests, which isn’t only inefficient, but it increases the amount of direct contact between guests and staff. Instead, when provided with an in-room portal, guests are able to access important information, request room service or maintenance, and more, all without staff’s assistance. Guests can make their service requests directly through their in-room portal by selecting from pre-programmed options such as ordering additional towels or toiletries, placing a food order, making a reservation at the hotel’s restaurant, etc. Guests can even deny turn-down service or mark their room as “do not disturb,” if they would prefer to limit their contact with staff.
Not only is using an in-room portal more convenient for guests, but it’s more convenient for staff as well. With the implementation of an automated alerting platform, guests’ in-room portal service requests can be immediately sent out to staff as they’re placed. Staff can receive these as detailed alerts on their mobile devices, desktops, and any other desired endpoint. These alerts can contain detailed information including the specifics of the request, the room number, and any other pertinent information. When a staff member receives one of these alerts, they can personally accept it, which indicates to their fellow staff members that they are already on the job. Hotel administration can even assign specific alerts to specific employees. For example, if a guest requests cleaning service, those alerts can go out to all of the cleaning staff, rather than all employees. This allows staff to complete these requests in a more efficient manner by ensuring that a single employee isn’t back-logged with tasks and that there’s no duplication of effort amongst staff members, resulting in better workflow and quicker customer service.
An in-room portal is also a great way for hotel’s to improve guests’ experience by conveniently and easily sharing information. For instance, guests can receive notifications on their in-room portal such as, “The south elevator is currently under service, please take the north elevator or the stairs.” It can even be used to promote the hotel’s amenities or special events such as happy hour or other special offers, or act as a personal concierge by referring to local restaurants, events, activities and more for guests to do during their stay. This can lead to an increase in partnerships with local area businesses. Additionally, hotels are trying to limit direct contact between staff and guests, and it’s important to keep guests consistently informed and engaged in these other ways. By utilizing the in-room portal to interact with guests, hotels can still provide a memorable and personable experience.
Even when a guest’s stay is coming to an end, they are able to use the in-room portal to check-out. Before a guest leaves their room, they can check themselves out through the portal and leave their keycards locked in the room. This is a great way to limit contact with guests by discouraging them from congregating in the lobby, but it also allows the hotel to see exactly when the guest left and notify cleaning staff that they can get the room ready for the next reservation. This is especially important now, as cleaning rooms between guests will be a top concern amongst patrons. Allowing cleaning staff the most time to do their work can help ensure the safety of the next guest.
Even before the pandemic, safety and comfortability were top priorities for the hospitality industry, and COVID-19 has not changed this objective, it’s only changed the landscape. Now, it’s important that hotel administrators ask themselves how they can change with it. These new circumstances allow for exploration, innovation, and improvement, which hotels should embrace.