The hotel experience is changing in a post pandemic world as the major accommodation brands look to adapt to new consumer behaviour and lower their operating costs as they begin their recovery.
All the added costs associated with keeping hotels germ free combined with a slump in bookings during the pandemic means the hotel industry will be looking for a higher-margin business model coming out of the pandemic. Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta summed it up in a recent investor call.
“The work we’re doing right now in every one of our brands is about making them higher-margin businesses and creating more labor efficiencies, particularly in the areas of housekeeping, food and beverage, and other areas,” he said.
“When we get out of the crisis, those businesses will be higher margin and require less labor than they did pre-Covid.”
In keeping with the new trend, Marriott International has debuted a pilot program for contactless arrival kiosks at several select-service hotels in North America, as well as the launch of contactless grab-and-go marketplaces at two Fairfield by Marriott hotels.
The contactless arrival kiosks allow guests to skip the traditional check-in altogether and complete an easy three-step process at the kiosk to check in for a single reservation, with room keys created on the spot.
The kiosks employ antimicrobial technology baked into the touchscreen glass, powered by UV light to kill bacteria and viruses. Before departure, guests can use the kiosks for contactless check-out or enrol in the Marriott Bonvoy travel program at any time.
Marriott’s contactless experience continues to evolve, further enhancing features such as mobile check-in and checkout, mobile key, mobile dining, and mobile requests – which enable members to make special requests for service and amenities through real-time messaging – all available through the Marriott Bonvoy app when members book direct.
“We are excited to unveil innovative new technologies to support our guests as travel continues to return,” said Stephanie Linnartz, President of Marriott International.
“The pandemic has accelerated the demand for contactless services and we continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of our guests.
“The new offerings are an added benefit to the personalized hospitality we are known for, and we look forward to enhancing our customer experience by blending contactless services with dedicated in-person interactions.”
Accor is also looking to a new hotel experience in a post pandemic world, opening its first fully digital hotel in Northern Europe.
The Ibis Styles London Gloucester Road offers online and mobile check-in, in-hotel payment, digital guestroom keys, digital F&B services and guest relations via WhatsApp throughout the stay.
Accor aims to replicate the digital experience across at least 50 per cent of hotels across all brand segments in North and Central America in the next five years.
“This is not about robots or faceless technology; this is about the smart integration of innovative, customer-facing technology at pace and at scale,” said Carla Milovanov, Accor’s SVP customer technology services.
“Technology is part of our daily lives and is now fully part of our hotel experience, and with this important step, we give our guests the opportunity to adapt their hotel stay according to their preferences.”