For the past
few years, one of the biggest buzzwords in travel has been “seamless,” envisioned
as a utopian experience in which every moment of a journey - before, during and
after a trip - happens effortlessly and
yet is customized to the needs and interests of the traveler.
COVID-19 – upending the travel industry, the way business is conducted and the
expectations of consumers.
of course still nice, but seemingly overnight, “contactless” has become even
more valuable. Now that the coronavirus has made the world aware of the potential invisible
risks associated with physical touch points, the goal of a hands-free
experience has become paramount for both travelers and brands.
toward contactless technology solutions has been developing for years, with
hotels around the world offering digital check-in and digital room keys and
in-room voice devices for some time.
has accelerated this trend, creating new demand as hoteliers look for ways to
eliminate any element of the experience that could create a risk for either
guests or staff.
keeping suppliers of travel-focused contactless technologies very busy.
happening really, really fast and that causes a lot of panic among the hospitality
industry to make quick decisions, to bring on a partner that can operate really
fast,” says Joseph Ling, CEO of Singapore-based Vouch, a startup that creates digital
concierge bots for hotels.
Ling says he
is “hiring aggressively,” because his current team of 16 people in Singapore
and Indonesia is not able to keep up with demand since the start of the COVID-19
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COVID hit, our sales cycle was six months to a year for hotels and hotel
groups. Now two weeks is enough time for us to go all the way up to the CEO and
present and get endorsement.”
digital concierge system enables hotels to receive and respond to any sort of question
or request from guests – from needing more towels, to ordering room service or
making spa bookings – without the need for the guest to pick up a room phone or
stand in line in the lobby. Guests access the bot using their personal mobile
device and either scanning a QR code or putting the phone near an NFC tag,
which Vouch creates to blend in with the property’s branding.
can be updated as needed: When the COVID-19 crisis created the need to monitor
the health of guests at the 790-room Pan Pacific Singapore, the luxury hotel added
a self-reporting “health declaration” to its bot so it could keep track of
guests who were not feeling well without having to deploy a member of its
already reduced staff.
The issue of
health screenings for both hotel guests and staff – something that was unheard
of just a few months ago – is now a priority as occupancies begin to increase
around the world. That was the impetus for the development of a new contactless
temperature-check kiosk known as Janus that launched in May from IntraEdge.
can be set up in a lobby for guests and in an office for staff and provides a temperature
reading within a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit accuracy in three to five seconds.
The user then receives a "yes" or "no" as to whether they can proceed – in the
case of a hotel, the property could determine next steps for guests. And the
kiosk does not store the temperature data or transmit it to the host company.
Janus kiosks are developed as a privacy-first solution to sense temperature and
verify identity with maximum convenience and safety,” says Dan Clarke,
president of IntraEdge.
will be 'normal' about our 'new normal,' but we firmly believe Janus will make
a positive difference in the lives and environments of businesses' re-opening
through our contactless and secure solution while addressing any privacy
concerns." The company is currently in talks with hospitality brands about
using the new kiosk.
product in development is from Guestline, which provides tools including a property
management system, channel manager, booking engine and payment solution for
is now developing a digital guest registration system.
“What we are working on currently is enabling guests to
complete their details prior to arrival ... and for that information to be
directly updated within the property management system, so when a guest arrives all they may need to do
is pick up their key and walk directly to room,” says Hamzah Hafesji, senior product
manager at Guestline.
The company also recently created an interface between its
point-of-sale product, EPoS, and Deliverect, which connects to food delivery
services such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo. Hotels that use Guestline’s EPoS can
now digitally manage restaurant and in-room dining and also drive business to
customers outside of the property.
there are technology products that have been built COVID-ready long before the
virus came onto the industry’s radar. One such example is Beachy, winner of the
Summit People’s Choice Award and runner-up in the Award for Travel Innovation
(Emerging Category) at The Phocuswright Conference 2019.
platform combines mapping technology and a reservation and payment system so
hotel guests can reserve things like a lounge chair, umbrella or cabana at the
pool or beach, all completely contactless.
Things are happening really, really fast and that causes a lot of panic among the hospitality industry to make quick decisions, to bring on a partner that can operate really fast.
Joseph Ling - Vouch
“Out of the
box, our product was built for no lines and for contactless payment,” says David
Stange, CEO of Beachy.
“The point-of-sale systems and property management systems are the last things in
hospitality to evolve. Some PMS comes out with its latest point-of-sale system
but it still requires paper receipts, or it is Wi-Fi only and doesn’t work
outside. That’s our niche - outside, at the pool, on the beach - everything we
do is made to work on the sand, so being cellular-enabled for us is super
enabling reservations, hotels can better control capacity and social distancing
at their pools and beaches. Stange says in the last month he has had hundreds
of inquiries from Europe and many more than that from around the United States.
And at a
time when hotels are struggling with record low RevPAR, he says the platform
can also help them drive additional revenue.
“What we are
seeing is they are taking a section of their pool deck and monetizing it,”
them the data of what chairs are booked most often ... so properties are able to
say these are $40 a day versus these are $20 a day because they have a firm
understanding of what consumers are wanting as far as placement.” He says some
clients are also adding upsell products such as better towels or dedicated food
and beverage service bundled with certain chairs.
solutions to create contactless experiences for guests, hotels are also seeking
technology to protect staff by eliminating touch points in their internal operations.
Nuvola released two new tools as part of its StayClean initiative, and both are
available free through the end of 2020.
is a digital tool hotels can use to manage their recurring safety and cleaning
procedures, for example to ensure hotel staff know which cleaning solutions to
use on specific surface areas and how often high touch points should be cleaned.
Nuvola Checkpoints is a QR code solution that allows hotel management to track
and schedule when high-touch surfaces and locations with high foot traffic were
cleaned and who cleaned them.
“We understand that our industry partners are working through a lot of
new processes to get their properties back up and running,” says Juan Carlos
Abello, founder and CEO of Nuvola.
“Checklists and Checkpoints is a quick
and efficient way hoteliers can ensure they provide a safe and clean
environment for their staff and guests.”
what technology solutions to adopt, maybe one of the biggest questions facing
hoteliers in a post-COVID world will be how much technology to adopt – both from
a budgeting standpoint and as it relates to the impact it will have on the
“For a lot
of hotels their objective post-COVID is to survive. They are looking to manage
their cash flow and manage debt,” Hafesji says.
“And we are
seeing a trend in hotels saying traditionally this is something we wouldn’t
take up, but now we realize guest experience will change. But we don’t want it
to be completely contactless.
contact-free become the norm? Protecting the brand promise and guest experience
is so important. I suspect many hotels will make conscious decisions on what
technology they decide to procure and what technology they may wait on to see
how quickly we recover globally and as an industry.”
PhocusWire's Touchless Tech series is brought to you by Medallia
Technology is helping hotels transform up to 80% of guest experiences into contactless interactions. Learn more from the leader in customer experience...