October 20, 2020
Much has been said about the potential and perils of the reopening phase with regard to the hospitality industry. Since the onset of the pandemic, operators have scrambled to adapt to a landscape that lacks a clear roadmap to indicate the best way forward. Amid the discouraging realities of inevitable downsizing, prolonged closures, and further uncertainty of the industry as a whole, a few solid silver linings have emerged. We’re witnessing the transformative power that digital technology can have, bringing positive results for businesses and an enhanced experience for guests everywhere.
As restaurants and hotels across North America continue to weather the proverbial storm, we’ve gained greater insight into the reasons why incorporating technology into the hospitality business model is so essential. Understanding how it can give brands an edge and increase the overall value of the guest experience will empower organizations and ensure a continued smooth transition through “the new normal.”
It makes guests feel safe — and puts them in control
Talk about a win-win situation. Placing customers at the heart of the process lends them a greater sense of control and autonomy while reinforcing confidence around health and safety protocols, which continue to be a top priority at both hotels and restaurants. The flexibility provided by the different solutions - most of which are scalable - appeals to all audiences, increasing the chance of universal adoption.
What does this look like on the ground? The possibilities are endless. At restaurants, digital menus available through QR codes, contactless mobile payment solutions, and self-service kiosks are just some of the alternatives. Within the hotel space, we’re seeing the rise of digital check-ins, virtual concierge services, and mobile room keys.
For operators, the efficiency and convenience reduce costs and optimize staffing resources; for guests, the journey is a seamless, safe, and customized one. What’s not to love?
It allows your brand to evolve and grow in new ways
We’ve seen that brands that had experience with the right technology pre-pandemic, primarily fast casual or quick-service restaurants, were those that tended to thrive the most once COVID-19 hit. There are plenty of free tools out there - Google, Yelp, and social media, to name a few - meaning there isn’t much excuse for not having a polished online presence (and hopefully, a digital marketing strategy to go with it). Integration of a multi-channel approach makes it easier for operators to run their business intelligently.
Tapping into this space will bolster brand awareness and affinity while migrating a company’s voice to a broader space. It’s a chance to explore new creative avenues, develop digital-first strategies, and expand the audience of potential customers. Given that within the next few years, millennials and Gen Z-ers will represent more than a third of all new travelers, according to a May 2019 study, this presents a particularly interesting opportunity.
Need some ideas to get the ball rolling? How about a welcome video from the hotel’s head chef once guests scan a QR code to access the menu? Or tailor-made recommendations from the concierge available upon check-in? From special deals or promos accessible to the community of social media followers to curated playlists for an in-room workout, the sky’s the limit.
Unlock the power of personalization
Digital software and technology provide unprecedented access to game-changing data and metrics. However, collecting this information is just half the battle; what hotel and restaurant operators do with it is even more important. Analysis of raw order data can allow teams to develop models or predict patterns that ultimately improve operational efficiency and profitability. Brands can track customer preferences, craft customized offers or deals, and spot potential pain points - solving them in real-time.
By fine-tuning the experience and responding to guest feedback in a timely manner, building lasting relationships is easier than ever.