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Technology 600 Hyatt


Number of Hyatt hotels where digital keys are available via the company’s mobile app.


Not only do these high-functioning digital solutions enhance safety, but they also precipitate interaction between staff and guests. When ordinary administrative tasks are automated, there is more time for meaningful personal interactions. “This allows us to automate the ordinary and give more time for personalisation,” Milovanov says. “On the other hand, the rise of paperless solutions to communicate with guests – whether you’re using apps, the internet or screens – helps us to pass powerful messages both to teams and customers on how to behave and how to be respectful of others’ health in real time.”


She touches on the biggest challenge in terms of technology implementation – complexity. As hi-tech solutions can impact so many aspects of hotel operation, the big question for Milovanov and Accor was where to focus its power first. Fortunately, the answer was straightforward. The first priority for Accor, and other hotel chains, was to implement technologies that would protect their guests from infection. “Ultimately, we wish there were a silver bullet we could roll out, but that is not the case,” says Arielle Quick, chief continent lodging services officer at Marriott. “Technology is an ecosystem, a suite of solutions with many potential applications, but hygiene and cleanliness are the top priority.”


“Technology is an ecosystem, a suite of solutions with many potential applications, but hygiene and cleanliness are the top priority.”


Safety in separation


For Marriott, the launch of the Global Cleanliness Council was the platform for a multi-pronged approach to the industry’s health and safety challenges. New technologies invariably became a vital resource in tackling the pandemic at the hotel level.


“In April 2020, one of the first things we did in EMEA was to find the best minds, both internally and externally, which led to the launch of the Global Cleanliness Council in order to reach the next level of cleanliness standards,” Quick explains. “We already had a robust hygiene protocol and it works well, but we adapted it to deal with the unique demands of Covid-19 and rolled it out immediately.” Looking closely at how to counter the spread of the virus, Marriott began using electrostatic sprayers with the highest class of disinfectants permitted by the CDC and WHO in all public spaces from the lobby to the gym, as well as using UV technology to sanitise not only room keys, but also any device that is shared by the employees working in the hotel.


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The sprayers can rapidly clean and disinfect large areas, including guest rooms and lobbies, with hospital- grade disinfectants, and the frequency of cleaning processes has increased. Meanwhile, UV technology has since become commonplace across the industry. Hyatt announced its Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment in April 2020. The commitment seeks to enhance cleanliness protocols and operational practice and focuses on operational health and hygiene procedures, technology and even the design of spaces within the hotel. “We are prioritising technologies and digital solutions that make a difference for our guests and give them more control and flexibility over their experiences,” explains Julia Vander Ploeg, Hyatt’s global head of digital and technology. “For example, our digital team has worked quickly to ensure our hotels can seamlessly adopt QR code technology, making it easy for F&B teams to support mobile menus and payment for restaurant order pick-up or knock-and-go room service.” For Accor, the development of its Allsafe label was a key part of its first response to the need for higher standards of hygiene. Allsafe represents some of the most stringent cleaning standards and operational protocols in the hospitality sector, and it has had a marked impact on operational procedures. This has enabled hotels to rapidly implement the latest health and safety recommendations for guest areas, the back office and catering spaces.


A fundamental part of these recommendations was, and still is, social distancing. Limiting close personal contact is the cornerstone of the response to a highly infectious virus – an end goal that is seemingly difficult to achieve in a hospitality setting. Once again, technology has been vital here, helping to rework the guest journey and the delivery of hotel services to limit person-to-person contact. “We launched a suite of mobile services, starting with our mobile key,” says Quick. “While this application is not new, it has accelerated quickly. Guests can now have their key on a mobile app, which also allows them to check in, check out, chat with staff and request services.” Through Marriott’s Bonvoy mobile app, guests can gain access to their room and any public area, including the parking garage. They can also request anything from extra blankets and pillows to housekeeping and luggage assistance, as well as ordering food and beverages with the mobile dining function. Hyatt has also made its digital key available at more than 600 properties worldwide through its World of Hyatt mobile app. “We have done a lot around F&B and food safety, which are critical,” Quick continues. “In some markets, hotel restaurants have remained open, so


Hotel Management International / www.hmi-online.com


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