The call for contactless technology in hotels, resorts and casinos has become a priority in the hospitality industry today. And hotels everywhere are scrambling to enable their staff and offer seamless and superior guest experiences through the use of advanced contactless technology.
If you are already in the market for a contactless technology solution, ask for a free demo of Ivy.
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What is contactless technology?
Advances in technology and the digitization of the hospitality industry are enabling contactless guests experiences today.
Contactless technology enables you to reach out to your guests and provide them with all the services and information they need to stay at your hotel. Using contactless technology, you can interact with your guests without getting face to face with them.
Why is contactless technology relevant?
Undoubtedly the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the hospitality industry really hard. According to a McKinsey report, hotel demand may not reach pre-COVID-19 levels until 2023.
Yet, as travelers trickle in, they seek ways to stay safe by reducing contact with hotel staff. The need to maintain safe distances has impacted how hotels offer guests access to everything during their stay. This means that contactless technology impacts check ins, add-ons, upgrades, check outs and other services provided with minimal hotel staff contact. Surveys have found that contactless experiences make guests feel comfortable at a hotel, with 26% of consumers indicating they want digital room keys and 35% expecting contactless payment.
The past decade has also seen a new type of traveler arrive on the scene. Millennial guests look for customization of their travel experiences and enjoy using their mobile devices to seek information about the place they are visiting. According to a PwC Hospitality Going Digital report, millennials would choose hotels that offer tech amenities for planning, booking, and stay.
Types of contactless technology in the market today
To successfully implement a contactless stay, hotel owners are reviewing the touch points of a customer journey from before they visit the hotel till they check out. By leveraging advances in communication and intelligent devices, hotels and resorts can tailor their daily interactions and tasks into contactless activities while improving the guest experience.
This can involve offering contactless bookings, contactless payments, contactless check-ins, in-room voice assistants, and accepting contactless feedback.
Let’s explore some of the options available to hoteliers today.
80% of hotel guests said they would download a hotel app that would allow them to check in, check out and get information about the hotel. It’s no surprise then that hotels today often have their own branded mobile apps. These apps help communicate with guests both before and during stays. They can also enable hotels to offer amenities to guests.
Depending on how advanced the app is, guests can browse local attractions and order room service without interacting directly with hotel staff. For many guests who enjoy self-service, this can be a game-changer.
SMS or short message services use mobile text messaging to connect hotels with customers. Text messaging can be further amplified using software to manage one-to-one interactions and link customer databases, to manage responses. Ivy, an AI-powered digital concierge, uses text messaging to respond and interact with guests in less than 1 second!
And guests love being made to feel they are being listened to. By integrating your text messaging with POS, your hotel can also deploy automated notifications, send promotional messages and trigger alerts.
During the pandemic, many hotels quickly implemented digital kiosks around the property, which allowed guests to check in or check out, look up information, or find things to do.
Digital kiosks offer a contactless way for hotels to reduce crowding around the lobby and facilitate interaction without coming into close contact with hotel staff. Hotels can also use pre-loaded tablets in strategic locations like the lobby for guests to check or browse restaurant menus without waiting for employees to be available.
Voice commands in hotel rooms are changing the guest experience for the better. In addition to the convenience, voice-enabled technology from Google and Amazon give guests the ability to manage room settings without touching controls that pass through many hands. Guests enjoy using this form of contactless technology, which they are already familiar with, and voice recognition technology is advanced enough to elevate the guest experience.
Digital concierges use technology to provide personal assistance to hotel and casino guests. By connecting with guests over a digital channel (think text messaging, apps, chat windows), digital concierges can help hoteliers communicate directly and efficiently.
A digital concierge can then handle several guest activities from express check in to housekeeping requests to room service and stay extensions. Guests enjoy the personalized attention and quick service response. At the same time, hoteliers can automate standard queries such as wifi passwords and towel requests, taking a load off their staff.
Another contactless technology that helps guests maintain a distance is mobile keys or keyless entry technology. Keyless entry technology lets guests enter their rooms on arrival by using a mobile key coded to their hotel room door. Surveys show that keyless entry can often lead to an average increase of 7% in guest satisfaction scores.
By offering a keyless service combined with express check in service or an online check in, hotels are helping their guests avoid the front desk altogether. Additionally, mobile keys can be coded and decoded, saving cost and time in replacing lost keys or struggling with faulty key cards.
QR codes have been a boon to several businesses to enable contactless payment and other interactions. As people arrive, they scan your QR code using their smartphone camera, which prompts them to fill in the information or make a payment.
For guests arriving at your hotel, rather than swiping a credit card or accepting cash, placing a QR code at your front desk or restaurant table can help speed up payments. QR codes can also be used to showcase menus or collect feedback.
Non-touch control panels
Elevators in hospitals are today being outfitted with sensors that allow you to either speak your floor or kick with your leg to indicate your floor. Some sensors enable panels to sense when a finger hovers over a button without making direct contact. These can be deployed in the hotel room to offer contactless control over temperature, lighting and windows.
A study conducted by RTi Research reported that 30% of consumers have used touchless payment methods for the very first time during this pandemic! Contactless payments are an essential way for hotels to maintain health and safety regulations.
Like QR codes, digital wallets have also become standard across many industries, including hospitality. Digital wallets (even when used with or without QR codes) can help guests make payments quicker than ever before. And as most guests are already familiar with using digital wallets, they often prefer using a wallet app on their phones.
Chatbots are another popular way to use contactless technology to elevate the guest travel and hotel stay experience. They offer guests a contactless method to communicate and help hoteliers by answering commonly asked questions. Chatbots help guests obtain information on the hotel or details on their stay quickly compared to regular online interactions. They are automated with programmed information. Chatbots have real-time information about regulations or hotel facilities and can deliver instant answers when queried.
Chatbots can also make great assistants, especially for any on-the-spot requests. Like the digital concierge, this reduces the load on the hotel staff tremendously while keeping guests happy with speedy responses.
AI-based chatbots can also send notifications to guests before their arrival to facilitate express check in. For the more complex requests, chatbots can notify staff to take over the conversation, keeping the interaction seamless for the guest.
Benefits of contactless technology
According to travel and tourism analyst reports, in 2021, hotels will increase their adoption of contactless technology to reduce the number of touch points.
Under the umbrella objective of improving the guest experience, contactless technology can specifically be deployed to reduce waiting times, help hoteliers make personalized offers and much more.
Let’s looks at some of the benefits to both guests and hotel management.
Contactless technology benefits to hotels
The upheavals in the hospitality industry have resulted in the quicker adaptation of technology innovations than ever seen in the prior decades. Hoteliers are rapidly investing in contactless technologies to attract guests back, compete with other resorts and give guests a memorable experience.
Support of management operations
The connectivity of contactless technology enables managers to stay in control of guest experiences with ease. Traditionally, a single manager would coordinate several department activities to ensure a smoother guest experience. But with the arrival of contactless technology, managers are leveraging technology to offer automated responses and gain algorithmic operational support. Contactless technology like the digital concierge, when integrated with analytics, helps managers monitor what’s happening across their properties without having to be on the premises itself.
Facilitates staff in daily tasks
Contactless technology helps remove the routine and sometimes tedious repetitive work off the shoulders of your staff. Consider guests being able to request towels at the touch of a button or make a restaurant reservation without having to reach out to your ground staff.
By removing the grunt work, contactless technology enables staff to work smarter. As a result, hotel employees have more time to make personal human connections that make guests want to return.
Because they are both personal and non-intrusive, contactless technology is an excellent way to generate additional revenue for hotels. For example, digital concierges can deliver up to $25,890 in incremental profits! They achieve this by making offers in a timely and intimate way, such as messaging in-house guests about late checkouts and extended stay deals just before departure. Additionally, contactless technology can send specific, targeted messages based on rewards programs, loyalty tiers, or other special assignations.
Real-time analytics and insights
A significant benefit of any technology implementation is the ability to analyze the data results. With different work shifts and multiple departments working in tandem, it’s sometimes hard to see the big picture. That’s where data analytics can help.
Applying an analytical tool to the data from your contactless technology can help you learn more about what guests want. Imagine knowing that more people prefer whiskey in the autumn and wine in the winter! Real-time analytics lets you react proactively. For example, several inquiries about poolside service may indicate a potential rise in demand, which you can meet by deploying more staff in that area for support.
Contactless technology benefits to guests
Reduced waiting times
Today’s guests want hotels to handle their requests quickly, irrespective of what they seek or how they have contacted you. While hotels may be operating with a smaller staff, contactless technology can still ensure guests are not kept for “someone” to respond.
Contactless technology enables hotels to offer faster service responses to guests without stressing the staff or making guests jump through hoops. Research has shown that contactless payments are up to 10 times faster than other in-person payment methods, with 69% of customers finding contactless transactions more convenient than those involving paper money.
Most guests today prefer to have control over their own travel experiences, including their hotel stay. Contactless technology is furthering this by letting the guest reach out to the hotel on any device or channel and interact based on their need. This simplifies the entire interaction process for the guest and puts them in the center of the hotel experience.
Elevated guest experience
Imagine no longer having to wait for anything. Contactless technology such as a mobile app, digital concierge or chatbot, can understand and process the request and provide a level of support without human intervention.
When requests are more complex, they are re-routed to the correct department to be resolved. For the guest, it’s like having a personal assistant always at hand to help, and the transfer process is entirely seamless. No more calls on hold, no more busy tones.
How to implement contactless technology in your hotel
To create an authentic contactless experience, hotels must understand every step of the guests’ journey to eliminate the points at which human contact can be entirely replaced by technology.
Before beginning, hoteliers and resort owners should evaluate contactless solutions from both the customer perspective and the technology capability.
Researching the market
Knowing the available technology to fulfill the current need is always a good place to start. While you may know the solution you are looking for with technology evolving rapidly, it’s entirely possible that there may be a more advanced solution.
You may be considering keyless doors over keycards, but how about facial recognition to open your door instead? Always take a look at all your contactless options before settling on any technology solution.
Finding a deployable product
Once you have figured out the contactless technology you intend to deploy, it’s time to see if someone already has the product developed. When considering purchasing any contactless technology, look to see where it is currently being deployed.
Industry expertise is essential in ensuring a superior guest experience. So consider a contactless solution that has proven to be used by resorts, casinos and hotels already, as opposed to trying to fit a solution to your hotel requirements.
Work with third-party vendors
Hotels without their own IT departments can explore partnering with vendors who specialize in developing contactless software or technology for hospitality.
A professional software development vendor can create precisely what you are looking for and help you navigate through the various technologies on offer. But keep in mind that domain expertise will cut down a lot of on-the-job learning, saving you both time and money.