As hotels begin down the road to recovery – reopening with largely reduced staff and welcoming guests with a whole new list of standard operating procedures – many are questioning what the future of hospitality will look like. Already operating on the thinnest of margins, the months-long travel lockdown has forced many owners to re-evaluate their profit models.
It’s clear that these trying times have set some businesses apart from others. Owners and operators that had capitalized on more than a decade of solid revenue growth will ride out the storm, while many newer owners straddled with debt will be forced to hand over the keys.
Moving forward, our businesses models must evolve to survive and thrive in a new normal. Hoteliers with long-term strategies based on lower-cost operating models should currently be preparing for the new future of hospitality. To ensure your hotel leads its market in recovery and is set up for long-term success, hoteliers must aim to run leaner operations while dramatically improving the entire guest experience. Providing a contactless guest experience has become essential to operating a hotel today.
Mobile check-in and digital payments have moved from a high-tech luxury to necessities to recovery. Hotels are aiming to connect with their guests much more pre-stay, seeking to anticipate their needs before arrival. Upon arrival, guests will finally be able to bypass the front desk on the way to their rooms.
Breakfast buffets are largely gone, full-service restaurants will be scant, housekeeping is optional, and guests will communicate with staff on their own preferred devices and channels.All of these new standard operating procedures must be implemented with largely reduced staff. This means hoteliers must leverage technology and automation as a support system allowing front-of-house and back-of-house teams to be more efficient. Automated functions such as bulk check-in and scheduled reporting can minimize the time it takes to perform many standard and repetitive back-of-the-house processes, while automating housekeeping task management and room updates can significantly improve both the speed and thoroughness of your housekeeping team.
From self-serve check-in to mobile messaging solutions, hoteliers will rely on integrated technology solutions more than ever to ensure the long-term viability of their business.
As we all know, though, hotel technology has not always lived up to the challenge. To effectively operate a hotel requires a large number of different pieces of technology, each serving a different role. Hoteliers rely on an often-fragmented technology stack to accomplish tasks like distributing rates and availability, forecasting and pricing, checking guests in, storing customer data, as well as back-office tasks like accounting and finance.
Too often, data from each of these systems is stored in a silo and not shared across the tech stack. This occurs for several reasons: First, some systems operate on-premise, meaning hardware is required to be installed somewhere, while others operate in the cloud. Also, getting the various systems to communicate and share data in similar formats often requires deep integrations that can be costly and require many resources. Unfortunately, this prevents hoteliers from achieving even the simplest goals. For example, if a connection between two systems happens to go down, it affects the entire operations. Hoteliers are forced to either troubleshoot on their own or submit helpdesk tickets to providers working with hundreds of other clients.
Hoteliers across the industry will agree: Building a properly integrated tech stack that works the way it’s designed is one of the top challenges we face.
This article is excerpted with permission from “Digital Adoption: How a Modern Tech Stack Will Drive Hotel Recovery Special Report,” published by CLE Content and Hotel Recovery 2020. The report provides the necessary information for operators weighing small-but-effective implementations like contactless check-in, to optimized workflow solutions to improve efficiency, all the way through fully integrated revenue generation platforms that will position hotels to lead their markets in recovery. The report is available here for free download (registration required).
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