As an increasing number of countries around the world, as well as the United States, begin relaxing quarantine regulations, the Hospitality industry is also beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically redefining the social fabric: social distancing restrictions and regulations change the way we interact with the world around us in almost every aspect of life outside the home.
For the Hospitality industry, in particular, this means that whole new guest experiences are taking shape. As hotels around the world focus on new strategies and approaches to ensure a strong reopening of their property, a multitude of areas must be considered to redesign the guest experience in a way that meets the demands of an increasingly contactless world, while still delivering the highest standards of customer service that your guests are used to.
Critical considerations to prepare the hotel for operations in the post-COVID-19 world range from operational changes to stricter sanitation protocols: for example, Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Wyndham, and many other hotel brands all recently announced enhanced cleaning procedures across their portfolio.
Proactive hotels worldwide are also taking advantage of this low occupancy period to pursue technology solutions that will help them deliver on the contactless “New Guest Experience”.
Here are some recommendations in four critical areas:
1. Front Desk / Reception and Lobby
A digital, contactless check-in experience is becoming the norm and a must-have for hotels of all sizes. Look for a streamlined check-in and check-out solution that minimize physical proximity and contact with staff, whilst maintaining the ability to offer a warm and welcoming interaction with the guest.
This will allow you to schedule staff more efficiently and reduce labor costs, as well as improve the contactless experience by reducing the interaction time on the day of arrival.
2. Guest Rooms
Digital communication platforms are going to be a key component of your guests’ in-room experience.
For example, our Apple TV for Hospitality solution not only provides guests with great TV and content streaming options, but also offers digital access to your hotel directory, local recommendations, events, and activities, and even allows a guest to send service requests to your front desk and housekeeping teams directly from their TV screen!
Another recommendation is to offer guests a QR code that they can scan with their mobile device and immediately access a web version of your hotel compendium, quickly and efficiently.
Re-engineering of housekeeping and maintenance operations is a fundamental concern for all hoteliers during this time, especially in the areas of sanitization, choice of disinfectant products, overall cleaning procedures, use of PPE (personal protective equipment) for staff, implementation of sealable laundry and garbage bags, just to name a few items.
The frequency of housekeeping services provided to the guest room during the stay is also expected to significantly change, with many hotels choosing to forego daily full cleaning service. This will invariably lead to an increase of ad-hoc guest requests for common items (towel replacements, bathroom amenities, and so forth).
Examine your service request handling procedures: are they manually tracked on logbooks? Are they typically called in via the in-room phone? How are you tracking inventory utilization and related costs when service items are replaced more extensively during specific service requests rather than daily housekeeping cart service?
A guest service request management solution can help you dramatically improve the entire workflow in many ways: guests will benefit from being able to submit their requests electronically (via their in-room TV, SMS message or Mobile app) without having to touch the room telephone, while staff can dispatch, track response times, and fulfill requests quickly and efficiently.
In addition to improving the guest experience immediately, implementation of such solutions also carries long term benefits for the hotelier in terms of more granular operational reporting, which can support actionable decisions in terms of purchasing, staffing and labor cost controls.
4. Public Areas and Amenities
Meeting rooms, fitness centers, pool and spa areas, and other public gathering areas will also be subject to careful considerations to ensure the proper social distancing safeguards are implemented.
In addition to stricter sanitation and cleaning measures, many hotels may choose to adopt methods to restrict the number of guests making use of those facilities at any given time: leverage guest requests management functionality (from a Guest Mobile app, in-room TV, other digital signage) to efficiently create a “by appointment” structure for your fitness center and pool and spa areas, which would allow you to control the occupant capacity and abide by social distancing and minimum threshold regulations.