How Hotels Can Adapt to a Post-COVID World
Last month, TransPerfect’s Vice President of Travel and Digital Solutions, Joel Brandon-Bravo, was on the panel for WTM’s webinar, focusing on technology opportunities for travel and tourism in a post-viral world. As the world begins its recovery from COVID-19, we’re all aware that we will be returning to a new normal, particularly when it comes to the travel industry. Joel joined Jean Noel Lau Keng Lun, Vice President Product Management at Accor, and Robert Gray, Chief Technology Officer at Topflight Travel Group, to discuss how the travel industry can utilize certain technologies to aid their recovery and future-proof their businesses. Some of the key takeaways from the webinar were surrounding the physical and digital technology that hotels can employ in a post-COVID world.
Hotels are a prime example of a physical business, with three main revenue streams: business travel, personal travel, and meetings/events. While it’s not quite the right time for business travel and meetings/events to return to normal, people have started thinking about where they want to go, and where they can go, for a summer holiday. People are worried about leaving the safety of their home and trusting someone else with everything they’ve previously been in control of, so it’s important that hotels can prove to potential customer’s that they have everything covered and make sure this is communicated effectively.
When you think about a hotel, almost everything involves multiple physical touchpoints; people queuing at the reception, multiple people in the lobby, giving the receptionist your passport, having to give them your credit card, taking the room key, a bell boy taking bags to a room, unlocking the door, and turning on the lights on in your room. From a hotelier’s perspective, they have a duty of care to look after both staff and guests, but they can’t run a hotel that looks like a clinic, the physicality of the building is the selling point so it’s important to adapt the business in a way that stays on brand.
There are a number of ways to prove to customers that they’re safe within a property without compromising on brand and alienating loyal customers:
1. Health and Safety Certifications:
By having certifications displayed around the property that are easy to read and understand, it shows the property has been audited by a third party, confirming that the health and safety standards are being met. These messages should be translated into the main languages your guests speak. Not sure what languages you need? TransPerfect can analyze your website traffic and advise what languages would be best for you to localize your content into.
2. Create an App:
To maintain social distancing in the lobby, and ensure that guests aren’t gathering, the entire check in process can be moved onto an app. Everyone has a smart phone nowadays, an app can be used as a platform to collect information directly from a customer’s phone via a link pre-trip. ID can be photographed and uploaded as well as a digital signature to negate the need for a receptionist to complete these tasks on arrival at the hotel. To ensure you don’t alienate guests, localize your app into core languages. TransPerfect’s Applanga solution can help with translating content and it enables automatic content localization when new content is released—making sure that no guests are behind on the latest updates.
3. Move Paper to Digital:
Since this frees up space in the lobby, staff will be available to chat with guests (at an appropriate distance!) to continue providing the expected levels of personalization and human customer service. As opposed to signing physical bills for room service or other hotel amenities, all of these expenses can be logged and paid for on the app—minimizing physical contact for staff and guest.
4. Switch Physical Actions to Digital:
Another phone-related technology is used for opening doors and operating room lights. We have the ability to store digital key cards on our phone, which can be used to open locks and turn on lights and appliances. When travelling, we often don’t want to carry bags. And now, we don’t want to have someone carry them for us. Using technology similar to the side-follow robot suitcases, guests could be given a token, and once bags are placed on a wheeled platform, it will follow them to their rooms!
All of this is possible to pull off, both physically and locally. But if you start looking globally, this is where centralized digital technology can help you scale quickly. Whether you have an existing app that needs translating, or help creating and translating content, TransPerfect can help your organization prepare for reopening to the world!
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