By Emir Dukic
March marks one full trip around the sun since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic. With heads still spinning but feet on solid ground, hoteliers are mining the data of the past 12 months in hopes of understanding what’s worked and what hasn’t on the road to COVID recovery.
One market trend can be confirmed: health and safety is the official currency of post-pandemic loyalty. Global travel remains restricted, but the market shows demand for domestic stays. Guests have the means and motivations for safe, risk-free experiences, and hoteliers that can offer an elevated stay are well-positioned to receive the influx of pent-up guest demand.
Tech is the Language of Trust, Health and Safety
For guests hazarding a return to activity, seeing has been believing. More specifically, not seeing has been the source of relief. Advancements in contact-free technology have made it possible to offer a completely self-directed check-in experience; a path from car to room that’s free of staff interactions. Gone are the days of the long check-in line, the busy hotel lobby, the passed-around room key; contact-free technology is improving every part of the process.
Hoteliers can use integrated app platforms to facilitate safe, hassle-free experiences at scale. Guests should be able to book their stay online, check-in on their smartphone, undergo a virtual identity verification and gain instant, hands-free access control to initiate their stay. In theory, they’ve been able to choose their accommodations, verify their booking and make it to their room without any in-person interaction; this, in the age of COVID-19, is luxury.
Tech for Sanitation and Sanity
As health and safety becomes a growing public concern, customers have new expectations for operational transparency. Cleaning protocols that were once conducted behind the scenes are now a crucial part of customer confidence. Most hospitality professionals have invested in advanced sanitation technology in order to enhance their customer offerings, and they’ve found creative ways to inform their guests of the process they have in place. This kind of open housekeeping is a strategy that’s been overwhelmingly rewarded in the early stages of the sector’s recovery; customers want to be active observers when it comes to their health and safety.
Smart tech can streamline cleaning protocols, enhance sanitation capacities and offer guests a more complete peace of mind. Guest apps can detail the protocols in place. Booking platforms can be used to reserve a poolside chair or a table at a limited-capacity restaurant. Smart tech can show guests and staff alike which common spaces are in need of cleaning, and which are safe for the next guest’s use.
Tech for a Better Recovery
Through the turbulent pandemic economy, the only constant has been change. Smart hoteliers have leveraged the power of automation technology to help them adapt to dynamic shifts in the market. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation technology can help hoteliers recognize new demand in the market and optimize their offerings—pricing, room type, length of stay—to fit the current market moment. When it comes to improving margins and increasing yield, there’s never been a better technological moment or a greater economic need.
Post-COVID cabin fever bodes well for the hospitality sector; already, signs of domestic demand are coming back online. Hoteliers who leverage the powers of smart technology, offering self-directed stays and smarter sanitation, will win in the short-term and improve their chances of continued success. Value-adds are quickly turning into expectations; when it comes to smart investments, the answer is tech.
Emir Dukic is the CEO of Rabbu, a frontier flexible rental asset management company. With proprietary technology, Rabbu automates all aspects of asset management—from marketing to operations to tenant health and safety. Rabbu helps property managers supercharge their operations, eradicate contact and manage their assets across major rental platforms: Airbnb, Zillow, Booking.com and more.
This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.