COVID has impacted so many areas of our lives, including our workday, our retail experience, and more. Around 72% of office workers now expect to work remotely, and 61% of consumers say they make fewer cash payments than they did before COVID.
The hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic. Hospitality relies solely on people traveling and visiting their businesses. During the pandemic, this just wasn’t possible. Whether a hotel, restaurant, spa, or other business, COVID shut hospitality down.
When the world began to re-open, it still wasn’t plain sailing for the likes of hotels. Guests were more concerned about their safety and hygiene than ever before. As a result, hotels needed to implement more safety measures as standard. For many, this included more regular and thorough cleaning, more outside spaces, and COVID testing procedures.
COVID presented serious challenges for the hotel industry, but pushed for innovation in a space that had been falling behind in digitization. Here are the latest hotel technology trends.
Impacts of COVID on the Hotel Industry
COVID’s aftermath has produced two major challenges in the hotel business; hygiene and staff shortages. Both of these were key areas for concern before COVID, but the pandemic highlighted the need for innovation and they look set to carry on being major challenges for some time.
Hygiene has always been critical in any hospitality business, especially hotels. Guests are trusting your business to host them safely during their visit. They expect rooms and facilities to be clean and hygienic. Research suggests that 78% of guests consider cleanliness to be the most important factor when choosing a hotel.
COVID only increased this level of concern. Every industry had to increase its hygiene levels and safety measures. Guests were more tentative to return to the hotel industry, as they needed to feel confident in the hotels’ cleanliness levels. They now expect clear information on the precautions being taken by the hotel, and services that limit human interaction.
Prior to the pandemic, many businesses were being impacted by the staff shortages in the US. Increases in living costs and no change in minimum wage meant workers were less inclined to take low-paid jobs. Again, COVID only accelerated this problem.
Post-COVID, the average wage has increased by around 12% in the hospitality industry. The great resignation and labor shortages have meant that workers can demand more from their work. They are far less likely to remain employed in a position that doesn’t meet their standards. Ultimately, there are plenty of openings elsewhere.
This combination of increased hygiene requirements and lack of staff has made it difficult to manage hotels post-COVID. There’s no staff to manage hotel cleanliness, and the staff that remain are overworked with increased responsibilities, only contributing to the problem. As a result, the hotel industry has had to make real changes in the last few years.
Contactless check-in is one recent hotel innovation that addresses the issues with both hygiene, and staff shortages. Guests can avoid as many contact points with staff as possible and staff are freed up to complete other tasks. If you offered late check-in pre-COVID, you might already have similar facilities to accommodate this.
There are two popular ways to accommodate contactless check-in. Many hotels offer a check-in kiosk, where a guest simply inputs their booking reference or name, and a key is printed by a machine. While this machine will need to be kept clean, it provides full autonomy over hygiene to the guest.
The alternative method is mobile check-in. Guests can check in before they arrive, or quickly at a kiosk. They avoid a busy lobby, or queuing at the check-in desk, and it speeds up the process for incoming and outgoing guests. Ultimately, no guest likes to wait, especially post-COVID, so early check-in and mobile check-in really improve the guest experience.
Similarly to contactless check-in, keyless entry removes the necessity for another contact point. The popularity of keyless technology has increased as more and more car manufacturers include smartphone key technology in their latest models. As a result, it’s something that many modern guests have gotten used to.
Assuming that a guest can use mobile check-in, a room key can be sent to their smartphone and they can avoid the check-in procedure. Again, this minimizes contact between the guests and staff, improving hygiene measures and freeing up staff time.
Not only that, but keyless entry removes the concern over a lost room key and malfunctioning keycards. In many hotels, staff must man the front desk and ensure that all guests can get into their rooms. Hotel keycards are notorious for demagnetizing, and the problem slowly chips away at the guest experience. Keyless entry eliminates this hassle.
Focus On Websites and Direct Booking
Many areas of hospitality rely on their website and online booking systems. For instance, many salons and restaurants now take the majority of their bookings online. The systems free up reception and administrative staff, and give the guests autonomy over their bookings.
Despite this success, the hotel industry fell behind pre-COVID. Many hotels relied on third-party websites like Booking.com to host their online bookings. For guests, this experience was far less personal. Websites provide an opportunity to showcase your hotel, and guests can see reviews and your portfolio of rooms. Third-party websites don’t offer this freedom.
Also, many of these websites take a commission and offer cheaper room rates. As a result, you take a dip in profit for each vacancy. Not to mention booking mistakes due to the “middle man” approach.
Hosting a booking platform on your own website gives you full control over your bookings. Many modern guests now expect to see online booking in hospitality, and hotels should be no different. Online bookings can integrate into a wider hotel system, allowing you to personalize the guest's experience, and increase efficiency in your hotels.
Smart Pest Control
Unfortunately, pests are an issue for any hotel, whether that’s the expense of preventing them, or addressing the damage of an infestation. Pests can impact so many areas of your business, including hygiene ratings and reviews, staff management and revenue.
As part of your improved hygiene methods, you need to take preventative measures against pests like bed bugs. Providing the safest environment for guests is critical. Ultimately, bed bugs can have a significant impact on your reputation for hygiene. One case of bed bugs can have serious financial implications.
However, due to the current staff shortage, it’s getting more challenging to keep on top of pests. Hotel staff are stretched, and struggle to prioritize tasks.
At Spotta, we understand the challenges that the hotel industry faces post-COVID. Hygiene has always been critical, but now even more so. That’s why we have created a preventative pest-control system to remove the human element of pest management. We want to ensure that your hotel can continue operating, and prevent reputational damage. Get in touch with us today to discuss pest prevention for your hotels.