Industry trends

How to design the contactless hotel guest experience right using technology

Petra Hancz

Petra Hancz

Contactless guest journey

Today, technology is so pervasive that in many areas of our lives we are spoilt for choice. Just look at the consumer market, where there are hundreds of smartphones, tablets and laptops on offer featuring tens of thousands of apps to make our lives easier. 

However, when it comes to the hotel guest experience, all too often we know what we want but we can’t seem to find the right solution that does everything we need. 

Investment in hospitality technology remains strong, with 78% of hoteliers looking to spend more in this area over the next three years. Yet, 54% of operators say that what’s on the market tech-wise is not advanced enough to cover their needs.

One-size-fits-all property management systems (PMS) no longer suffice. The need for personalisation, fast communication, contactless solutions and digital concierge services makes it hard for operators to keep up with rising expectations.

Many legacy systems have limited customisation options and will charge clients for integrations. This is the core reason ADAPT Apartments chose to switch to Apaleo’s open property management platform, which has hundreds of integrations available in the Apaleo Store

What contactless elements can enhance the guest experience?

Travellers want high-tech, low-touch hotel stays, with nearly three-quarters (71%) of guests happy to use their mobile phone to manage their hotel experience, including checking in and checking out, paying, and ordering food.

But contactless does not need to mean humanless.

In fact, quite the opposite. Investment in technology frees staff up to provide a better guest experience, while also driving operational efficiencies. Reducing labour costs should never be the primary concern, or the guest experience will soon suffer. 

Stay KooooK is leading the way when it comes to doing it right, and providing guests with a completely digital guest journey. With fully-automated processes and services, guests aren’t reliant on a front desk, and the company has a uniquely-intuitive customer service platform for its employees to use too. The hotel now has just one member of staff on site, liberated to act as a true customer-facing host, while saving time on redundant check-in, check-out and admin tasks.

The rising popularity of invisible payments, where there is no visible interaction between the customer and the payment system, makes the guest experience even smoother. A fast, contactless experience could also include having voice assisted technology, omni-channel messaging, ID verification and a web application for self-service check-in, where the guest doesn’t need to download a dedicated app.

It is important to remember, however, that not all guests have the same expectations. Gen Z and millennials, for example, are spearheading the ‘bleisure’ trend, where a trip is undertaken primarily for a business purpose but with the addition of leisure activities. The chance to explore new destinations and cultures appeals hugely to these generations, which is why they’re more likely to value digital concierge services, helping them to explore what’s on offer and make reservations.

This is where a cloud PMS and API-first solution shines. While traditional systems make personalisation extremely difficult to facilitate with their constrained and limited features, these modern platforms allow operators to ‘plug in and play’. They can choose from a wide range of integrations with the freedom to swap applications in and out as they please. This flexibility also means hotels can better keep up with consumer trends, without the worry of having to pay for custom integrations or development.

Among this collection of apps are industry-agnostic tools that can be added to a hotel’s tech stack to provide solutions to wider issues. ADAPT Apartments found staff privacy was being compromised because their original guest interface was exposing their personal contact details to customers. The operator was able to find a specific browser-based telephone solution which it integrated into the Apaleo platform, which quickly resolved the problem.

Hospitality technology will empower guests to ‘stay their way’

Hotels that rely on an all-in-one PMS will miss out on the best and latest guest experience innovations, which means they’ll struggle to maintain a unique offering in the marketplace, eroding their ability to compete

Whatever the tech stack looks like – and it’s likely to be different from hotel to hotel – guests want to be empowered through personalisation and choice. In fact, personalisation is valued so much that almost half those questioned in a survey of travellers (47%) said they’re willing to give an accommodation provider more personal information if it means they receive a personalised service.

The experience during a contactless stay should be effortless and stress-free. Guests should not have to think or do too much. If there is something they are required to do – such as provide ID verification, or payment – the steps involved should be clear and minimal.

An API-first platform lets operators choose and change every single touchpoint in a guest’s journey. This gives guests more options to enjoy a bespoke experience, from the method of payment that aligns with their preferences and security concerns to the opportunity to purchase an early check-in or check-out. The ability to select any add-ons, such as hiring a car, shuttle bus, or reserving a table at a local restaurant can take customisation to the next level.

Taking this approach, which recognises that one-size-fits-all doesn’t give guests any control over their stay, can significantly enhance their overall satisfaction, and encourage them to leave a positive review or book another stay.

If you’re interested in learning more about how hotel groups and alternative accommodations strike a balance between technology and the irreplaceable human touch, watch our latest webinar on Redefining human touch: How to craft a contactless guest journey.

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