As the travel industry starts to refind its feet in the wake of the pandemic, travellers are looking for reassurances that they can travel safely and responsibly. As a result, businesses around the world are adapting their processes to give holidaymakers peace of mind.
People are already widely calling for digital transformations to be considered within the travel sector. For example, according to research, 42% of travellers would want to have a mobile application which highlights any virus-related changes in the area they are travelling to.
However, the changes being made within the hospitality sector are not exclusive to managing the effects of the pandemic. Hotels are also taking this opportunity to be future-proof in light of other global issues like climate change. Here, we highlight three potential digital transformations hotels could make to address these concerns, as the hospitality industry adapts to the new normal.
Digital room keys
During the pandemic, digital technologies on our phones have been vital to helping businesses reopen in a safe and responsible way. From ordering food at a restaurant, to checking into establishments, being able to use our phones to reduce human interaction has helped to accelerate the post-pandemic recovery, particularly in the hospitality industry.
One change that hotels are making to facilitate this trend is creating digital room keys to eliminate the need for physical keys to be transferred from person to person. Customers have been calling for keyless technology to become more widespread within the hospitality industry, and market leaders like Hilton and Marriott have pioneered the rollout in many of their establishments.
In 2018 alone, 7.6 million mobile keys were downloaded by Hilton guests, highlighting just how valuable this transition could be for customers. Digital keys are both a safer way to control access and more environmentally-friendly, as reducing physical keys cuts down on the amount of plastic used for key cards.
Reducing face-to-face contact with other humans remains one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of the virus. As a result, many hotels are seeking alternatives to protect both their staff and their customers. The traditional process of checking in to a hotel creates many contact points, from customers speaking to hotel staff, to reception areas getting crowded as queues form.
Utilising modern technologies, the check-in process can become more streamlined, whilst also reducing the need for face-to-face interactions. This can be achieved through a number of methods. Similar to airplane travel, guests could be encouraged to check in on a mobile device before arrival. Alternatively, kiosks can be set up in reception for guests to check in via a QR code or similar technology which can further speed up the process. Not only is this helpful from a public health perspective, but it could allow guests who arrive at unsociable hours to check in without calling for staff, or make it easier for those who have certain disabilities.
Digital transformation ideas don’t have to necessarily be in relation to mitigating the health risks posed by post-pandemic travel. Another key concern of the 21st century traveller is global warming. With the leisure industry currently undergoing large-scale changes, many hotel and holiday companies are seeking ways to reduce their impact on the environment.
According to studies, approximately three quarters of hotels’ environmental impacts are in relation to excessive consumption of resources, including energy. Modern digital technologies can be used in a variety of ways to help mitigate this cornering statistic. For example, smart meters can be a priceless tool in managing energy consumption within hotels. They are programmed to optimise energy efficiency which not only has the effect of reducing a hotel’s carbon footprint, but it can also significantly reduce costs.
By Geoff Aldis, Freelance Content Producer and Researcher