Covid-19 has turned the world upside down. While several industries across various sectors took a huge hit on their business, one among the most affected industries is the service and hospitality industry.
Many businesses were quick to adapt as they already had apps and pre-developed software that helped them sustain their business through the tough lockdown. For example, brands like Jio (Jio Mart) and Amazon (Amazon Pantry) were quick to adapt and set up essential commodities services to keep up with changing times.
On the other hand, companies in the tech sector had to quickly adapt to working remotely, making meetings more efficient, using software like Slack or Twist to stay connected and productive.
The pandemic has given rise to the urgent need for digital transformation for all companies in all sectors. If a brand fails to catch-up digitally, they are likely to fall behind in the race to stay afloat as the world waits for ‘normalcy’.
Though the dust is starting to settle in many countries, the pandemic has given rise to new challenges and opened up doors for new opportunities. The world may return to being more socially connected over time, however, the digital transformation and newly adapted business strategies look like they will become the new norm.
The hospitality industry has had to turn its focus towards a new kind of contactless transformation – which is precisely the opposite of what the service industry was all about.
The service and hospitality industry has now had to turn their focus on ways to attract and retain more customers with their improved solutions while living up to covid-19 guidelines.
How hotel chains can implement digital transformation:
- Digitising booking process
- Loyalty program management
- Room service
- Virtual tours
1. Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT can be leveraged by hotels in many ways to make customer experience smoother and contactless.
Self Check-in: Using a mobile app, hotels can enable guests to self-check-in. This helps reduce wait time and gives the customer the flexibility at their fingertips. In turn, adding value to a great first impression. The mobile app can also be built-in with various other features and give the guests access to important information and updates with respect to their booking.
Digital key card: Keyless Entry Systems can facilitate a seamless stay experience. Offering guests an electronic key card on mobile devices is one of the smartest ways of saving time and money and ensuring security. It also helps the hotel to collect data on room preferences and enhance the guest experience in the future.
Smart and personalized rooms: IoT can be used to enable guests to manage room amenities on their mobile apps. For example, lighting preferences, thermostat settings, media sets, or even integrating voice recognition. All these provide the guest control over their experience.
Mobile apps like Pokemon Go reflect on the potential possibilities of leveraging AR/VR, indicating the effectiveness of an interactive platform. One great example of a hotel leveraging this technology is Marriot – it enabled guests to travel far from their hotel rooms using Marriott VR Postcards. You too can make travel more seamless for your guests.
Virtual Reality: Brochures, pamphlets, paper based information cards are now outdated. New age travellers are more digitally savvy and want more and more at the tip of their fingertips vs going through reviews, blogs and youtube videos.
VR can be used to allow guests to take a tour of the hotel without leaving their house. VR will enable them to get a complete experience and to view the hotel services like spas, restaurants and rooms.
This not only makes the experience better for a potential guest, but also increases their trust and the credibility of the brand, as the customer is able to view the place for themselves vs flipping through brochures that may not be updated.
Augmented Reality: AR opens up a whole new world for creating better experiences for customers. With the use of smartphones, a guest can know their exact location, explore historical places, nearby restaurants, view hotel services and so many things that are far beyond current limitations.
A great example for service industries is to draw inspiration from AirBnB, who took their customer experience to a whole new different level using AR/VR.
3. Mobile apps
Mobile is the most convenient way to communicate seamlessly with your guests. It offers a wide range of possibilities to improve the customer experience.
Booking rooms: An app is the quickest way for travelers to book hotels with a mobile. It is literally just a tap away.
Communication: Mobile apps can allow guests to easily communicate with the staff for any specific requirements or queries. The staff can easily respond more efficiently and quickly vs answering customer queries via a call.
Apps can also help to send in-app notifications and reminders on various things like check-in times, breakfast times and hotel services.
Customer loyalty program: Hotels can introduce ‘Customer Loyalty Programs’ via the app. Where guests can redeem rewards/points for every service they use. It keeps them engaged and helps to boost a long term relationship.
Staff productivity: Hotel staff can get more organized by managing their tasks through a mobile app. Managers can stay informed about the staff capacity and their day’s job so they can smartly manage their responsibilities and advance productivity.
4. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
For the service industry, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is perhaps one of the best ways to improve the customer experience.
Chatbots: Chatbots powered by AI can be used to respond more immediately to guest queries and issues. This enables the hotel staff to plan their time better as they don’t have to keep answering calls to solve simple problems.
AI chatbots can be used to analyse the incoming data and queries, this data about, for example guests’ shopping history, spa or salon usage, saved payment methods, food choices and other actions taken by guests while interacting with a hotel app can be used to further provide a more personalized and customised experience.
5. Data and Analytics
Data: Data is crucial in the hotel business to retain guests and create better experiences – this is for any industry. With digital transformations like IoT integrations, mobile applications. The process of data collection can benefit hotels to come up with new features or ideas to attract more and more guests based on their behavior.
Analytics: Through data analytics, hotels can identify key factors that help in providing a high-quality customer experience.
Analytics can also help identify the guests who are likely to return frequently and guests who are likely to spend more on upgrades and purchasing other amenities from the hotel.
This in turn will allow hotels to make smart decisions – focussing and improvising their primary areas of business and continue to offer high value to its guests.
It is the new age of transformation – digital transformation for all businesses is now essential for them to stay competitive. Hotels should consider adopting digital tools to upgrade their services.
In the coming years, hotels that don’t adopt technology in their business might go outdated.
In summary, some of the biggest advantages to hotels with the use of digital transformation are:
- Reduce wait time
- Saves time and money
- Make communication smoother and improve relationship building
- Hotels get to know their customers
- Improvement in business performance
- A high rate of repeat customers
So, it’s time for you to make your hotel smart and lift your business post-COVID 19; and we can help you do that!