While all companies have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel and lodging industry was hit particularly hard. And while the industry continues to rebound with more people traveling every day, it’s important to remember that consumers expectations have shifted significantly. To that end, Hospitality Technology’s Lodging Technology Study found that 52% of respondents reported that their guests increasingly prefer digital experiences over encounters with staff. This follows the trends we’re seeing in other industries as consumers continually are opting for more streamlined, associate-less merchant interactions. For example, buy online, pick up in-store in retail and mobile ordering for restaurants.
What was most interesting about the study was understanding the role technology can play in enhancing the guest experience, and more specifically how leveraging existing technologies can drive innovation. Here are just a couple examples that stood out.
While the use of contactless payment has significant growth in retail, the hotel and lodging industry has been slower to adopt the technology. The solution has been available – most, if not all, payment terminals are able to accept contactless payments, but the need for adoption wasn’t high. With the pandemic, contactless adoption among consumers increased significantly, and as their comfort level rose, so did their preference to use it. Contactless offers a number of benefits for hoteliers, one of which is the ability accept mobile wallets. Mobile wallets are not only convenient for the consumer. When leveraged with value-added services, they can become the connection between a hotelier’s loyalty program and the payment device. With value-added services, guests can confirm their payment and loyalty information with a single tap. Conversely, if the guest isn’t yet a member of the program, they can be prompted on their phone to sign up with a single tap – ensuring a quick check-in experience.
Another key trend I found interesting in the report is hotelier’s interest in self-service solutions, in particular self-check in and customer service kiosks. Self-service is another technology that has seen widespread adoption across a variety of industries, making it inevitable that it would find its place in hotel and lodging. A similar use case would be the self-check in kiosks you’re used to using at airports. The added benefit is that it can also create automatic prompts for upsell opportunities, including leveraging pictures of room upgrades to entice guests, without the need for front desk associates to put pressure them. Not only does this streamline the guest experience, it also frees up hotel staff to focus on other critical aspects of serving guests.
To me, this just makes sense for the hotel and lodging industry. Consumers’ mobile devices are already capable of storing event tickets, credit cards and loyalty programs, and soon will be able to hold digital versions of your driver’s license, so why not your hotel room key? Leveraging the NFC and RFID technology already in the devices, this is a great way to create convenience for busy guests on the go. It also encourages them to engage more with your mobile app, creating additional opportunities to drive guest engagement and loyalty.
While COVID-19 may have put the breaks temporarily for the hotel and lodging industry, it has also brought forward the opportunity to create new guest experiences and drive stronger loyalty through the use of different technologies. I for one am excited to see how guests will continue to benefit and how the different hotel and lodging brands continue to refine their guest experiences.
Interested in learning more about how you can provide a more seamless guest experience? I would be happy to chat!
Rob Orolfo is National Director of Partner and Channel Sales, Hospitality at Ingenico, North America