Over the last year, the hospitality industry was greatly affected by the pandemic. The industry as a whole is facing low occupancy rates resulting from the decrease in international and domestic travel. With traveler needs shifting toward safety and hygiene, how is the travel industry accommodating these practices in an altering landscape?
We witnessed several airlines and hotel companies adapting to guest interaction and services to accommodate post-pandemic travel. The industry is facing a shift from in-face interactions to contactless services in both hotels and airlines. What was considered a digital add-on is now a requirement for entities to strive and survive in the wake of the post-pandemic.
From digital amenities, touchless service, and hygiene practices, there’s much to know before heading to your next trip!
Digitalized Amenities and Touchless Services
Dealing with a pandemic forced many hotel companies to digitalize services and amenities. Digitalized amenities were extras to the pre-existing structure of hotels and airlines. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to be a requirement for the industry to start welcoming travelers back.
Face-to-face interactions that define hospitality may no longer exist. Hotel experts consider “trust” as the first step to overcome the pandemic and welcome guests back. Guests need to feel safe in the physical and emotional landscape of hotels during their stay. This defines their journey from check-in to check-out, dining and wellness venues, and more.
The framework for digitalization throughout the guest journey post-pandemic shifted the services that we all use when staying at a hotel. For example, check-in and check-out services are now done online before guest arrival or through on-site kiosks. This eliminates the interaction of guests with front-desk staff. Furthermore, we witnessed the implementation of digital menus as opposed to printed menus that guests usually use. Digital menus include the placement of a QR code that guests can scan to view a venue’s menu. Buffet-style breakfasts and in-room dining have been replaced with QR-coded menus where guests view food and beverage lists and order them without the need to be physically in restaurants.
For example, Hyatt hotels launched the “World of Hyatt” app that gives guests control over how they connect with properties during their stay. The app minimizes contact and allows guests to control housekeeping frequency, food orders, mobile key entry, contactless check-in and check-out, and more. Moreover, United Airlines placed touchless airport kiosks to prevent contact with airline staff. Delta Airlines also announced the elimination of middle seats to maintain social distancing until the end of 2021.
Renewed Hygiene and Cleanliness Policies
When the pandemic began in 2020, most hotel companies acted fast and efficiently in dealing with guest safety. Housekeeping services are now most important in delivering a safe and hygienic space to ensure guest satisfaction. Travelers search for virus-free stays when choosing their accommodation. 83% of travelers would prefer to stay at a hotel that advertises their practices on their social media or other channels.
Cleaning and disinfection are critical to regaining trust in guests. Hotel companies revisited their current standard operation for cleanliness with the upcoming pandemic in early 2020. New cleaning standards have been introduced to identify the touchpoints that create a virus-free hotel. These included specific cleaning procedures for common areas and guest interaction hotspots in terms of frequency and application.
Accor Hotels launched a safety program named ALL-Safe in the early stages of COVID-19. The program features a framework of 100 new cleaning standards that their properties need to implement to maintain a safe hotel. The company succeeded in verifying 65% of its hotels with the ALL-Safe label so far and is already witnessing an increase in occupancy rates. Other hotel companies implemented similar programs to their properties to ensure their readiness when travel increases worldwide. Those include Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, and more.
Are These Trends Here to Stay?
Experts claim that digital and touchless trends are here to stay, at least until the pandemic ends on an international level. Guests are more attracted to companies who keep them safe during their travel, and therefore will always seek hygienic safety for the time being.
We may witness some physical interaction come back to hotels in the future, but digital add-ons should always be an option for guests when they arrive. Guests will most likely always have the option to opt-in for a digital stay.
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