Pop culture often predicts the future in elaborate ways—flying cars, hoverboards, and time travel are just some of the scientific advancements that have been depicted in iconic films over the years. While these examples may seem far off, technology as we know it is rapidly developing—the relocation of humans to Mars comes to mind—and these changes are gaining momentum due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the realm of guest-facing technology. The global health crisis has been a catalyst for technological development not only in medicine, but in the hospitality industry as well. Features that were once viewed as potential luxuries are now required for the safety of guests, meaning the future of guest-facing technology is happening now.
As part of the hospitality workforce, what does this mean for you? Read on to discover the guest-facing technology trends that are being implemented today, as well as what’s to come.
Contactless and Centralized Service
“Contactless hospitality” is one of this year’s industry buzzwords. What is it exactly? It’s a list of best practices that decreases the possibility of transmitting COVID-19 through minimal contact without sacrificing exceptional service. Right now, it can be seen in the inclusion of touchless dispensers (for hand sanitizer, condiments, and more) in restaurants and the rise of guest-room tablets in hotels.
In their current state, guest-room tablets offer guests centralized access to interactive hotel information and services, including direct messaging to hotel staff, housekeeping optimization, room service, and city guides. We can expect to see a major increase in the inclusion of these tablets in accommodations in the future, as well as more amalgamated features. Soon, every amenity in a room (such as light switches and content casting) will be able to be controlled by a tablet, leading to far fewer touchpoints and possibilities for contamination. Voice activation is predicted to be integrated into hotel design as well, allowing guests to interact with in-room amenities—like changing the thermostat and ordering a room service meal—with zero contact.
Like guest-room tablets, mobile apps allow for centralized and personalized access to hospitality services. The ability to check-in and check-out on your phone, as well as mobile keys, are quickly becoming available to hotel guests. In the restaurant industry, mobile ordering has become an absolute necessity to serve customers this year, and many eateries have begun making the move to offering their own app or opting for websites that feature online-only menus and features like live chat.
The amount of time the average consumer spends on their smartphone is predicted to greatly increase in 2020 (from the already-astonishing 3.5 hours/day). This means restaurants and hotels will place further emphasis on mobile capabilities and services—contactless entry through mobile keys and restaurant apps overtaking food delivery services are soon likely to become the norm.
Guest-facing technology is always made better by the ability to communicate directly with those offering the services. Take an app-based food order, for example—you can customize menu items to reflect your dietary preferences and leave specific instructions on where or when to deliver your order, giving the restaurant employee a complete picture of how to fulfill your request. For instance, the Hyre app allows hospitality industry staff to find shifts, as well as clock in and out, while our employee shift scheduling software can be accessed from any device, including mobile. Both allow for seamless communication between employees and employers, which lead to happy guests.
Antimicrobial agents—which prevent microorganisms from growing on a material’s surface—are currently being investigated for widespread use around the world. Ideal for high-traffic touchpoints and surfaces in busy facilities like hospitals and airports, antimicrobial additives are said to help improve sanitary safety and combat the potential spread of disease.
In September, United Airlines announced that it was going to add an antimicrobial coating to its plane sanitization process, and has since applied Zoono Microbe Shield to over thirty aircrafts based at Chicago O’Hare airport. This practice will likely be observed throughout the hospitality industry in the near future, ranging from antimicrobial-surfaced dining tables in restaurants to antimicrobial hotel room door handles.
Guest-Facing Technology Is a Worthwhile Investment
Digitization and guest-facing technology have been growing in the hospitality industry for many years now, but the challenges 2020 has presented have fast-tracked their role in our lives as business-owners, employees, and customers. With 76% of consumers stating that COVID-19 has altered the way they plan on functioning in public spaces from now on, investing in updated guest-facing technology will be a game-changer in addressing the new needs of customers. Today’s uncertainties makes any large investment feel nerve-wracking, but planning for the future and pivoting with the changing hospitality landscape can give you a feeling of security, which will ultimately translate to your guests.
Which of the technologies above would help your business the most? Let us know in the comments below!