Preparing for travel and hospitality’s recovery
This post is authored by Roger El Khoury – Founder and Managing Director of Neorcha.
How contactless services in hotels can help the industry bounce back
Whilst we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, hoteliers around the world – as one of the hardest hit sectors globally- are preparing for a new normal. Even when borders reopen, airlines take off again and hotels resume operations, the sheer reality is that travel and hospitality will be different and that travelers will have new needs and conditions when it comes to flying, hotel stays and car rentals.
As a hospitality technology company offering mobile services to hoteliers, we have been supporting the industry with the digitization of the hotel guest journey for a number of years, in response to the ever-evolving expectations of travelers to engage digitally. From pre-arrival communications and mobile check-in, to restaurant reservations and in-house guest requests, hoteliers have had access to a myriad of mobile services for digital engagement. Yet, nearly 65 percent of hotels globally haven’t taken advantage of these tools because of legacy technology systems with closed and limited integration ability.
I have no doubt that travel and tourism will come back and thrive again, but consumers re-entering the travel market will do so with great caution and this calls for smart and innovative solutions. As a result, I believe that the mobile solutions trend we’ve seen emerge in travel and hospitality over the last couple of years, will be radically accelerated through our experience in navigating this unprecedented situation that has seen the world come to a pause with airline fleets grounded, hotels closed and tourist attractions eerily deserted.
When the new normal for travel is established, it is likely that travelers will be far more wary about social distancing and touching surfaces, materials and devices when traveling, especially in public places such as hotels. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), studies have suggested that coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours up to several days. This presents the need and opportunity for hoteliers to provide contactless services where possible.
Take the traditional check-in and check-out process in a hotel for example. Having to be up close and personal with hotel staff at the reception desk, signing printed guest folios with a pen and using recyclable plastic room keys, could cause travelers unnecessary anxiety.
What if we could take these worries away by providing key online services that travelers can use from the comfort of their own home, as well as seamless and contactless self-services when they arrive at the hotel, allowing guests to either bypass the hotel reception completely or use their own mobile device to check-in, open their hotel rooms, switch on the lights and the TV, and request services during their stay? Through Neorcha’s performance-based app, powered by Amazon Web Services, guests can book their room online and make pre-arrival arrangements including online check-in. They can opt to use their own mobile device upon arrival at the hotel, to check-in, to open their room with a QR code or digital key, and to make restaurant bookings and request other hotel services without having to touch a single device other than their own.
Providing contactless services doesn’t mean taking the human contact out of hospitality. On the contrary, it will allow hotel staff to service and support guests safely and efficiently, while allowing more time and space to enhance the guest experience in new and improved ways. In addition, hotels will be able to eliminate the use of paper in core areas such as the Front Office, by digitizing guest folios, collateral and invoices. This will not only make their operations greener, but will help to reduce cost, which in the COVID-19 aftermath will undoubtedly be warmly welcomed.
Speaking of costs, capital investment and operational expenditure will be under strict scrutiny with hotels having incurred significant losses, leaving hoteliers in search of technology solutions that are cost effective and quick to market in order to prepare their operations for the return in travel demand. Having access to technology solutions that feature AWS Cost Explorer and AWS CodeDeploy services means cost won’t have to be a barrier for re-entry.
Secure access and high-availability architecture are also critical considerations when it comes to adopting new technology. To give hoteliers peace of mind in dealing with sensitive data, they should look for technology providers that use AWS WAF and Amazon S3 backup storage. Speed to market is another key consideration to allow hotels to bounce back quickly once COVID-19 measures are lifted. Having multi-tenancy and micro services available that provide free basic plug-and-play hotel app features, will give hoteliers the opportunity to switch on their hotel’s digital and contactless self-services almost instantly. Premium features such as online check-in and check-out, QR code and mobile room keys, room controls, restaurant & spa bookings and guest requests can then be activated on a need basis through a pay-as-you-go, flexible and tiered pricing, with the opportunity to add more features whenever required. This allows hoteliers to be quick to market with extra care solutions in the post COVID-19 era and at highly affordable cost requiring no capital investment.
Even when borders reopen, airlines take off again and hotels resume operations, the reality is that travel and hospitality will be different and that travelers will have new needs and expectations when it comes to their travel partners and providers. We look forward to seeing the industry bounce back as it adjusts to the new normal.
Neorcha is a SaaS (Software as a Service) Company providing hotels with fully integrated digital solutions with an utmost engaging customer journey. In a growing digital world, our goal is to provide a complete digital guest journey, allowing hoteliers to communicate with their guests ‘pre-, during- and post-stay’, offer incentives through mobile, and increase loyalty and direct bookings.
About the Author
Roger El Khoury – Founder and Managing Director of Neorcha. With over 20 years international experience in hospitality technology and revenue management gained in the Middle East and Europe, Roger El Khoury started Neorcha in 2015 with the vision of creating one of the leading mobile applications companies in the world. Inspired by data, Roger combines his mobile expertise with a commitment to understanding customer needs and then making opportune connections, which help Neorcha’s clients thrive and grow in today’s ever-changing technological world. Roger offers unparalleled insights into customer needs and priorities, and how to integrate these into collaborative and interactive mobile applications that turn a company’s passive customers into active customers.