Pandemic fast-tracks technology adoption among hotels

The Covid-19 pandemic has awoken many hotel players to the importance of digital solutions, and this new openness to innovation may reshape the entire hospitality experience in the post-Covid world.

Joseph Ling, founder and CEO of digital concierge operator Vouch SG, said: “Before Covid-19, the hotel industry as a whole was relatively resistant to technology disruptions, and lagged behind in digital transformation. But through this crisis, hotels have become more open to exploring contactless and bring-your-own-device solutions.”

More hotels are adopting new technologies to cater to changing demands in the post-Covid world; The Pavilions Phuket provides in-room customised smartphones (above) operated by Portier Technologies

Vouch SG – which counts Andaz Singapore, Capri by Fraser and Pan Pacific Singapore among its clients – has developed a standalone F&B takeaway and delivery ordering system geared towards hotels, as well as a temperature recording and health monitoring feature on its digital concierge platform.

As more hotels open up to digital innovations, interest in other solutions have come to the fore. Ling shared that one rising solution with high adoption rates is contactless ordering for dine-in customers. He said: “As customers return to dining in, they are going to have greater sensitivity to hygiene. Physical menus are surfaces constantly touched by customers and staff, and are therefore becoming less desirable. We foresee that customers will increasingly prefer to order from their own mobile phones to minimise unnecessary contact.”

He opined that when travel resumes, hotels should also challenge and review “outdated features of the modern hotel room”, such as in-room telephones and room service menus, which are common culprits of cross-contamination among guests.

Another tool that hotels are now “increasingly keen” on is mobile self check-in, of which there is still a lack as many are seeded in a hotel or brand app, a condition that introduces “high friction” to guest adoption.

Deniz Tekerek, CEO of Portier Technologies, concurred. He expressed: “The key focus when investing in technology is to determine its actual impact and ability to engage. Having technology that does many things is useless if guests fail to use (it). In that respect, I’d say that applications, for example, have no real place in the hotel industry, as they deliver undesirable engagement levels.”

An alternative would be the use of web-based services that guests can easily access on their phones, or a dedicated concierge device altogether.

Tekerek shared that the pandemic is serving “as an accelerator” for the adoption of such solutions with a “strong focus on reducing touchpoints, digitally educating guests about new measures, keeping guests safe when they explore the destination, and more”.

Portier Technologies operates a browser-based chat portal and customised smartphones, which are currently placed in Accor, Banyan Tree, Hyatt, and Marriott properties, as well as The Siam in Bangkok and Swiss Luxury Apartments in Geneva.

“The hottest topic in our sector is contactless engagement. The general sense for hotels seems to be the need to find different ways of staying engaged with guests, given that physical proximity might be a no-go, at least initially,” said Tekerek.

He revealed that the company is currently speaking with more than 300 hotels and resorts about the adoption of Portier Technologies solutions.

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