Hotelier India|May 2020
The hospitality industry has been witness to constant innovation and disruption, from economic slowdowns to one of the worst—COVID-19, which has shut down the world. As we try to figure ways in which we can deal with the pandemic and open up for business, the needs and wants of a traveller will evolve and change.
Post-COVID (AC) recovery will most likely include integrating new-age technologies related to booking engines, mobile apps, digital concierge services, automated check-in and check-out and keyless entry systems. A report by Software Advice’s Guest Preferences for technology uses in hotels states that 60% respondents were more likely to choose a hotel that allows guests to check-in and open doors with a smartphone than a hotel that doesn’t.
Nothing can be truer in the After Covid (or AC as it is being referred to increasingly) world. Not just automated technology, even the demand for interactive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), chatbots and Internet of Things (IoT) will not just be options, but necessities.
Coronavirus has upended the hospitality industry and savvy hoteliers across the world will use this downtime to identify technologies that can help them thrive in the post-COVID environment. As Harish Chandra, Chief Technology Officer, Sarovar Hotels and Resorts, says, “Post the meltdown of COVID crisis, we will see slow growth for the initial few months. Travellers will be worried about their health and safety issues. There is a requirement for up-gradation, technology adaptation and training for the staff. We are in the process of creating clear SOPs for various areas, keeping manual and atomized sanitation in mind.”
Chandra suggests measures of crowd control at the lobby and during check-in such as cloud-based Property Management System. “We need to develop intelligent smart technology-based solutions to win guest confidence by creating a room management/allocation application, a solution that allows guests to choose sanitised and safe guest rooms. Usage of skin-temperature screening cameras, geospatial sensing tech (smart floors) chemical and UV light cleaning systems and grape stone ecological paints and coatings, contact tracking apps will enable consumer confidence,” he adds.
Automatic and constant cleaning of guest rooms and public areas by robots will also help. Lift handrails should be sanitised regularly with the help of technology. The use of technology in the management of the flow of people and support social distancing is also critical.
Chandra points to emerging technology in the F&B segment, such as a digital tablet menu, a QR-code supported ordering solution that restaurants worldwide are experimenting with. Guests will be able to scan a QR code on his/her mobile, check the menu and place the order via a mobile without downloading any app.
The world of technology is ever-evolving in the hospitality industry. A look at what it means for the industry.
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