Throughout the past year, our industry has been buzzing with conversations about contactless hotel technology, and the many ways it can provide safer stays to hotel guests amidst the current crisis; however, some hospitality professionals are still skeptical about whether contact-free technology can be a solution for enhancing guest experiences in the long-run, or that it is just a passing phase that will end when vaccines are widely available.
However, evolving guest expectations and the new technologies that support them have been driving a change in our industry for a while now – the only change is that the demand for contactless hotel service was accelerated by the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic; from a guest perspective, the value of contactless service is not only in maintaining social distancing and safety, it’s also about inspiring convenience and personalization throughout the hotel experience. In this article, we will highlight the main benefits of providing contact-free service in hotels, and the different ways it improves your business now, as well as in the future.
Nowadays, guests expect a smooth travel experience from start to finish; and with airports already applying the contactless approach, guests need to have the same conveniences at their hotels to enjoy a seamless experience from the moment they book their trip till they return home.
Mobile applications are already popularly used for airport navigation, self-service, avoiding lines and human contact, as well as receiving flight notifications. Studies have also shown that 75% of millennials already have installed travel apps on their phone, along with 46% of the other generations.
From grocery shopping to mobile room keys, there is a high level of convenience that comes with having all you need, when you need it, literally at your fingertips – and that is one of the main reasons driving hotel guests to seek mobile-enabled services and contact-free hotel stays.
Hoteliers often worry that the use of technology would disrupt communication between guests and hotel employees. Conversely, traditional ways of communication at hotels feel like a burden to guests; studies show that without guest messaging technology, 84% of guests don’t communicate with a hotel more than a couple times during their stay – revealing that when communication requires effort from your guest, it makes them less likely to approach hotel employees when they have a problem or require service and information – Unfortunately, this usually results in having those unresolved issues communicated through online reviews after the guests leave.
According to Zingle, 58% of Generation Z and 56% of millennials prefer to use SMS or messaging app over using the phone or face to face interactions. Through guest messaging technology, your receptionist can chat with guests during their stay or even before they arrive at your hotel; they can ask them how their flight was, if there’s anything they would like to know, or if there are any special requests they’d like to make before they arrive. It’s this added consideration that will make guests feel appreciated and keep them engaged throughout their stay.
From a financial perspective, guest who are fully engaged know more about your services and also have easier access to them; according to Gallup, hotel guests who are fully engaged spend 46% more than disengaged guests. Hotels that already have guest apps reported a 41% increase in room service revenue per occupied room – with a digital catalogue on their phones, guests are able to order extra service, books excursions, get updates on hotel safety policies and finalize their bills online.
Millennials are the world’s largest and most tech-savvy generation to date; they travel more, spend more and demand more. They’re what we call “digitally native” consumers, who depend on smart technology to cope with the fast pace of their life. There’s a lot of interest in millennials in the business world; they account for 50% of the workforce globally and they are poised to have more spending power than baby boomers – in many ways, they are the most powerful and influential consumer group that we have ever encountered.
When it comes to their hotel stays, millennials prefer to create their own experiences using the technology they are most comfortable with. 50% of millennials in the UK value instant messaging over face-to-face service – so being able to text staff on the go, check-in remotely, or have access to all your services and offerings on their phone, helps spontaneous millennials find what they’re looking for. With their digital expectations met, they can create the most exceptional experiences to share and cherish for years to come.
Zingle’s 2019 Guest Service Report highlighted that 50% of guests would pay $25 more per night for a hotel with superior service. On this premise, most hotels are shifting to contactless services to elevate their level of service through more efficient operations and workflow.
Contact-free technology automates and streamlines repetitive hotel procedures; guests can check-in online, scan their ID using their phone camera and sign their registration card on their screen – eliminating the need to interact directly with anyone or to wait in a crowded lobby.
Hotel staff will no longer need to generate keys or take payments, guests can do that using their phones anywhere on or off the property. It is not necessary for guests to wait in a queue or use their room phone for questions or requests either, texting the hotel receptionist from anywhere on the property is possible using any internet connection and a smartphone.
As contact-free technology automates hours of repetitive work, your operations run more smoothly, while your staff better focuses on building connections and delivering excellent guest service.
On the road to recovery, the competition is fierce, and the best way to gain advantage is to know more about what travelers are looking for in the times ahead. Guests no longer want to stand in queues, use their room phones or make manual payments. With news and social media fueling their uncertainty, they find comfort in using their mobile phones to get things done during their hotel stays; According to Citron’s 2020 Hospitality Survey, 80% of hotel guests would download a hotel app that enables them to check in, check out and get all information about the hotel. The United States alone has seen a 20% increase in preference for contactless operations; those figures show how fast consumer needs are shifting towards a contactless hotel experience.
Hotels have a great opportunity to win favor by offering convenient experiences that are also safe for their guests; It shows that your hotel is being proactive by providing alternative solutions to better serve them and secure their stays. It’s a great way to stand out from your competitors and attract more guests to your property.