The hotel industry is now in recovery mode as hotels are slowly beginning to re-open for what is usually the busy summer season. Hotel management will most likely plan a more friction-less and touch-free world resulting in the entire guest experience looking and feeling very different.
Hotels may forever change the way they operate and shape the new future of the hotel industry. Here are some of the new things we may expect to see:
New Cleaning Standards
The largest hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt, have now shared details about their new, revamped housekeeping procedures. As per their press release, Hilton announced a new partnership with RB, the makers of Lysol and Dettol to create a new cleaning procedure. We expect guests to be more conscious about cleaning protocols and they will be looking for hotels that are transparent about their practices. Marriott is even looking at implementing electrostatic sprayers and using ultra-violet technology to sanitize keys or any shared devices.
New Appearance and Increased Presence of Housekeeping Staff: One change that more and more guests may start getting used to seeing as the “new normal” is hotel staff standing behind plexiglass at reception or concierge desks with masks and gloves. The presence of housekeeping staff may also be more visible especially in public areas or high traffic areas disinfecting high touch points such as elevator buttons, house phones, and door handles. These initiatives can also help ease the minds of guests making them feel safer knowing that proper health and hygiene protocols are being maintained regularly.
Hotel Rooms and Housekeeping Service: Guest rooms may have a more minimalist appearance as unnecessary items that are more difficult to disinfect may be removed room such as decorative pillows and bedding, magazines, or even minibar items. Even glassware in the room for example may be replaced with single-use disposable options or additional amenities may be available upon request. In regard to housekeeping service times, it may take longer for room attendants to provide daily service as additional sanitation procedures may need to be implemented. Many hotels may even opt to reduce regular servicing of rooms altogether for guests staying multiple nights or long-term.
Valet Parking and Bellman Services: Many hotels may look at reducing service touch points wherever possible, beginning with suspending valet services, and opting for guests to park their vehicle by themselves. If hotels do plan to continue offering valet services, they may be required to sanitize each vehicle before and after parking or retrieving a guest vehicle. In addition, Bellman may no longer offer services to assist guests with carrying their bags to their room, requiring guests to do this themselves.
New Hotel Entry Protocols: When entering a hotel lobby, there may be additional security measures guests may be required to adhere to such as temperature checks, face mask requirements, and visually marked physical distancing policies. All guests may also be required to use hand sanitizer before entering or may see hand sanitation stations situated throughout different areas of the hotel starting at the front door, by the elevator, or at the reception desk.
Use of Technology
Businesses are looking at new ways to become contact-less, which can be challenging for hotels since we thrive on personalized service. Technological changes can be expensive but may now be deemed necessary as we see hotels switching to virtual check-ins and digital keys for guest room entry. Guests could be able to check in on their phones and use the same device to unlock their doors. Rooms will be equipped with one device, such as a tablet, that will control multiple functions like “Do Not Disturb” notifications, controlling lights and curtains, temperature, the television and much more.
Mobile Registration and Self Check-In: There is a good chance that checking in with the front desk reception may be a thing of the past, especially with many hotels quickly adapting to mobile options for guest registration, self check-in, and digital keys. RoomKeyPMS currently interfaces with OpenKey which does just that, it allows guests to check-in via their mobile device and issues a virtual key directly on their mobile device, essentially eliminating the need to interact with hotel staff.
For hotels that still opt to continue with the traditional check-in method most guests are accustomed to, RoomKeyPMS also interfaces with Orion Systems which offer eSignature capabilities so hotel management can still practice physical distancing between guests and hotel staff while still providing personalized service to guests.
RoomKeyPMS has also launched it’s Mobile Platform which includes a contact-less check-in feature. Highlights of this platform include the ability to speed up the arrival process ahead of time by confirming personal information and provide the hotel with critical information through it’s customized mobile platform that syncs seamlessly to the PMS.
Many organizations have predicted that physical distancing will become the new norm, forcing hotels to redesign their guest spaces, both indoors and outdoors. You will see less furniture in lobbies (or none at all), deterring guests from gathering in crowds. Newly built hotels may be advised to have additional elevators as well as make the room layout more spacious so it may accommodate more activities such as exercising and dining. It will become common to see protective covering in highly exposed areas as well as floor markers to guide distance and flow.
The food service industry is one that will see the biggest change with the same goal in mind: exemplary service while maintaining hygiene standards and social distancing rules. Many restaurants will reduce the number of guests they can seat, and staff will be required to wear masks at all times. Technology will play a big role here as well, as guests may be able to order and pay on their own devices. Some establishments will have to reconsider the definition of fine dining and reduce the amount of cutlery and glassware in their table set up, whereas others may decide to use disposable tableware only. Room service will regain popularity, given that the hotel as upheld its standards in the above-mentioned points, i.e., cleanliness, ordering, and space.
We are yet to fully comprehend how things will unfold when the economy starts to re-open, as people re-evaluate their vacation plans, potential destinations, and need for safety. What we know for sure is that the Tourism and Hospitality industry has been deeply affected and must evolve in order to remain relevant. Guests will remember the hotels that are stepping up their game by supporting their local communities and colleagues, and those hotels that are continuing to engage their clients by sharing their new protocols. Now more than ever it is important for hotels to share ideas and grow so that we can all be ready once the crisis is over.