May Issue, 2021
Trends to Chase: How hoteliers can stay relevant in 2021.
Two months into the new year, it is now clear that the challenges 2020 brought did not end with it. As the saying goes, the only way out is sometimes through, and the only way out of a pandemic is by acknowledging and navigating through it. The best way to move forward now is to identify the trends set by COVID-19 and adapt to them. This article lays out the trends set by COVID-19 and how hoteliers can incorporate the changes to kick-start the industry.
In our previous articles, we touched on how the guests of 2021 are drawn towards the availability of touchless tech in a hospitality organisation. This month, we will explore contactless tech trends that go beyond guideline adherence and contribute to creating a memorable guest experience.
The Rise of Contactless
Contactless tech was not an alien technology when the pandemic took force. The rapid adoption of mobile technologies facilitated the ability to research and manage holidays through devices with minimal face-to-face interactions, thus allowing contactless tech to seep into the industry. The pandemic merely accelerated the rate of growth and adoption of this tech, although exponentially.
At a challenging time as such, why should hospitality organisations incorporate and invest in new technology? The answer for this lies with the change in consumer sentiment. 45% of customers agree, and 26% strongly agree that they would be more likely to stay at a hotel offering self-service technology that minimises physical contact with the staff. So, in attracting customers in 2021, contactless tech is moving from being an added advantage to a mandatory requirement.
Research by Skift revealed that 44% of hotel executives are considering incorporating new digital messaging services to handle guest requests, and 42% are considering adopting self-service check-in procedures. McKinsey evaluated the future potential of contactless technologies and found that online/kiosk check-in, guest messaging, keyless entry, online F&B ordering, and workflow/staff collaboration tools are changes that will likely exist in the next normal.
Applications of Contactless
Contactless tech has been invaluable for the hospitality industry during the pandemic. However, it’s evident that the tech is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Moving forward, how can hospitality organisations incorporate this tech into their daily operations? Contactless tech is not only a tool for delivering services. It can also be a means for gathering real-time customer feedback, paving the way for an enhanced customer experience.
Mistakes are inevitable. It is the response to the mistakes that leave a lasting impression. According to Medallia Zingle’s “2019 Guest Service Report”, nearly 50% of guests do not report problems because there is no easy way, or they do not like confrontation. 42% of respondents stated that they would return to a hotel if they were able to turn a poor experience into a positive one by solving the problem immediately.
Contactless tech can fill in the gap in the reluctance to report a problem and the change in attitude if a problem is solved. Providing two-way messaging facilities will allow guests to message an issue to the hotel staff without confrontations easily. It can also relay prompt notifications to the staff, facilitating faster and personalised responses to each guest.
Hospitality organisations can then take the contactless tech adoption a step further to implement a guest messaging platform. This will allow the staff to provide consistent and customised interactions throughout the guest journey. According to Medallia Zingle, 80% of customers believe that it is easier to communicate via text or mobile app for contactless service, and 62% of consumers stated that they would communicate with businesses more if they could text message with them. Contactless guest messaging will allow hospitality organisations to understand the customers and lay the groundwork for a tailored experience before they arrive at the property.
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