Ask anyone working in hotels about the impact of COVID-19 on their industry and the responses are likely to include the words “devastating,” “disastrous,” or “catastrophic.” The UN’s World Tourism Organization reported a 65 percent decline in international tourist arrivals in the first half of 2020, and low occupancy at hotels has been the norm for much of the year.
There have been some green shoots of recovery as travel restrictions have been eased globally, but business-as-usual still seems a long way off. The day-to-day operations of a hotel are a far cry from what we are used to, with temperature checks, masks, and physical distancing now ubiquitous by necessity. Few will be unhappy to see the back of those kinds of restrictions.
But there are some COVID-enforced operations changes that should not disappear when things return to normal because they have actually made hotel visits better.
The traditional check-in process at a hotel reception has not been fit for purpose for years now. Put simply, it takes too long. Arriving guests are often at the end of a long journey, and their priority is to get to their room so they can wash, or rest, or eat, or visit the pool. It is not to have to hang around at reception for half an hour.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced hotels into embracing digital check-in to ensure a contactless experience often meaning guests can simply go straight to their room when they arrive. Even when the safety risks involved are removed, this will remain.
The quickest and easiest way to reduce touchpoints in a hotel has been to digitalize. Digital apps and QR codes are helping to put the entire hotel experience on each guest’s personal device, reducing the need for reams of paper. While this is positive for both environmental and cost reasons, it also allows for greater flexibility, and that’s why it’s here to stay. Need to change a price on a menu? It now takes a second.
It shouldn’t have taken a global pandemic to force the hotel industry to catch up with global trends, but technology is a huge part of all our lives, and when it can make a hotel better for staff and guests, it’s worth embracing for the long-term.
Safety Concerns Top of the Agenda
Safety and hygiene are, understandably, now a priority for hotel guests and staff alike. The need for face masks and physical distancing will hopefully diminish in time, but the renewed focus on cleanliness is unlikely to go the same way. That is a good thing. Rigorous sanitisation protocols ensure everyone’s safety, pandemic or no pandemic, and must not be taken for granted in the future.
While traditional face-to-face communication between hotel staff and guests has taken a hit from COVID, information-sharing has never been better. The need to keep guests regularly updated with the latest guidelines and protocols, and to provide necessary information even before arrival, has forced hotels to innovate when it comes to communication.
A consequence has been that hotels are now providing a better service than ever because guests are kept properly informed at every stage of their visit. They know everything they need to know upon arrival, and access to more information is available not just from reception, but through instant messaging, or on a hotel app. In the Information Age, that is invaluable.
Vamoos helps hotels and villas transform their guests’ entire experience, from the moment they book to after they return home. Excitement builds up as the timer counts down, and your guests have all the information they need at their fingertips, from hotel directories to instant messaging and so much more. Find out more about Vamoos or get in touch with the team.