“As an industry where we pride ourselves on giving sanctuary in a busy world, the concept of service must change rapidly.”
The recent Covid-19 outbreak has wreaked an almost perfect storm upon the hospitality industry in recent months with Governmental interventions, international tensions and travel restrictions creating an almost unworkable environment for anyone connected to the hotel supply chain.
However, as we now have a clear signal for the industry to begin reopening on the 4th July, what price and faith can we place in the confidence of the travelling public?
It is inevitable that there will be a residual concern or even fear, towards the situation, particularly for those first intrepid travellers and their return to our hospitality hubs but for many that will only be earned with clear messaging about hygiene and visible evidence of safety measures.
Perhaps we need to generate that confidence by removing something: Touchpoints.
The return to regular travel will, I think, be dominated and perhaps forever changed by technology; from removing physical check-in processes, adopting ‘smart locks’ and online food and beverage ordering to name but a few.
As an industry where we pride ourselves on giving sanctuary in a busy world, the concept of service must change rapidly to encourage a new normal.
It is my belief that online concierge services, smart locks, online check-in both at point of travel and eventual destination will become “de rigueur” for both convenience and our health and safety and to minimise that concern.
Many regular travellers adopt the benefits of some these technologies already, but for those venues and other companies that lag behind, the longer-term view of success post Covid-19, is perhaps significantly limited.
In a recent study, the primary fear of infection from Covid-19 was from person to person spread in a ‘face to face’ scenario. Just think for a moment, in the recent past when travelling, when you were not met with a human being within 2 meters from you? Airline check in desks, information kiosks, shops, cabs and hotel concierge…. the list is almost endless
The financial benefits are also clear, especially at a time when both revenues and profit margins will both need to be maximised. For example, OTA booking commissions can be significantly reduced by implementing well thought out membership and marketing schemes from the integration of a concierge app and CRM database, that encourage not only loyalty but additional impulse purchasing opportunities, both before arrival and once on premise.
If we harness the power of the data, the member experience can be extended to immediate preference selection for rooms, physical environmental choices and even geographical orientation. These are well known as typical drivers for return visiting statistics.
Staffing costs are similarly streamlined as peaks and troughs in site wide availability needs can be modelled and adapted with ease, on proven data. As the traveller’s expectations change, so will the numerical need for colleagues to facilitate; an example being in the provision of in-room food and beverage choice which is widely believed to be a significant guest concern in the short to medium term in order to avoid public meeting areas.
When you consider that over 70% of the travel planned from, for example the GCC area, post Covid-19 is for business travel and to see family members, the considerations on how to maximise revenue generation is essential.
Whilst the overall general outlook may seem somewhat bleak with social distancing affecting capacity in common areas, especially those with significant revenue generation functions, there is a considerable light at the end of the tunnel. For those hotels and venues that maximise their distancing and sanitation protocols, whilst improving their own in-house and specifically in-room offerings, and pertinently advertising those as widely as possible, the hotel may quickly gain the reputation as the safest place to be whilst away from home!
A famous film once proclaimed “There’s no place like home…..” but in a post Covid-19 world, a great hotel might just be the next best thing!
Nick Hill ( Co director of Sureline)
Sureline Communications Ltd is an innovative, full-service IT solutions specialist, providing bespoke and reliable products and support. Sureline takes a flexible, customer centric approach to the deployment of technology solutions. We provide trusted technical advice and exceptional levels of personal service to guarantee that projects of any size meet objectives. AGILIS Mobile is the extension of this innovative product portfolio which offers tailored business mobile solutions.