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Technology


Cleanliness has always been important to hotels, but Covid-19 has turned it from an inconspicuous issue into a powerful marketing tool.


enough, staff needed to be trained to handle people who were not keen to have their temperature taken and, crucially, respond appropriately if an unfavourable result was delivered. Less contact but more engagement was the name of the game. Communication was the panacea – isn’t that true of almost everything in life? Maintaining trust and creating new loyalties were paramount. Minimising the number of things that guests physically touched kept everyone happy. Technology had to be an enabler and an effective yet subtle support tool – nothing new there, perhaps, but never has the focus been so acute.


New routines had to be put in place everywhere, from crude one-way systems to socially distanced queuing options. Again, the reasons were twofold: not only to protect the safety of guests, visitors and staff, but also to reassure them that everyone cared.


Switched on


There is a whole other article to be written from the viewpoint of housekeepers about various sprays and their effectiveness, air quality and circulation – but we are concerned with enhanced digital engagement as a result of the pandemic. At HOSPA’s annual conference last year, delegates were asked if they had relied more heavily on technology during the pandemic. A staggering 80% said they had, and the vast majority cited automating what had previously been a manual process as the main advantage of this.


to open the appropriate page. These quick wins enabled hotel managers to remain agile and rapidly meet new guest demands.


More difficult decisions were those that involved larger amounts of expenditure – especially at a time when income was already typically not meeting outgoings. Investment in technology always has to add value, but the spotlight shone brighter than usual during the pandemic.


everywhere... Not only to protect the safety of guests, visitors and staff, but also to reassure them that everyone cared.”


80%


HOSPA delegates that said they relied more heavily on technology during the pandemic.


HOSPA 48


Easy and cost-effective options like QR codes made a massive comeback when hotels reopened after the initial lockdown period, and this is only likely to continue. I believe there were two reasons for this. First, the more obvious benefit of reducing touchpoints and allowing guests to use their own device – often as simple as their mobile phone – to read guest directories, view menus, place orders and make payments, among others. The second reason for the comeback was the simplicity of reading a QR code.


When they were first introduced, users needed special apps to read the code, but now smartphones allow users to move the camera over the QR code


While shrewd IT directors were able to make snap decisions to accelerate some plans that were already in place, others were not so lucky. Online check-in and check-out became vital, and fortunately many hotels already had these systems up and running for some time. The same goes for digital key cards – and if these innovations were in the planning stage, it was really a no-brainer to hasten their delivery. However, not all decisions were as simple, and some pressing short-term needs had to be met in order for hotels to reopen. In many cases, management teams were forced to make quick decisions while not losing sight of commercial wisdom. During lockdown periods, owners and operators with multiple hotels in close proximity to each other were able to consolidate all their demand into fewer properties, thereby only opening a reduced number of locations and maximising efficiency by limiting the number of staff at work. The sharing of guest data across multiple properties had never been so important, and for some this


Hotel Management International / www.hmi-online.com


Friends Stock/Shutterstock.com


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