Hoteliers are prioritising investment in contactless technology and digital marketing solutions as they look forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A poll of hotel operators in the UK and Ireland by hospitality software specialist Guestline has underlined the importance of digital and contact-free guest operations and management.
Guestline says implementing effective digital marketing strategies alongside contactless and online solutions, for both staff and guests, “are set to play key roles in re-opening plans in the weeks and months ahead”.
Of hoteliers surveyed among Guestline’s customer base, when asked what their priority is in terms of technology and operations for the year ahead, over a quarter (27%) stated it was digital marketing (including enhancing the website and social media presence).
A fifth (20%) stated it was overseeing and managing a contact-free guest experience including a more digital approach to guest communications, upselling, utilising feedback and check-in and check-out.
A further fifth (20%) of those surveyed said contactless payments was the technology that saw their biggest investment in 2020, followed by contactless check-in and check-out (18%) and a cloud-based property management system (18%).
Over a third (38%) stated investment in technology in 2021 would be in contactless payments, whilst 18% said they are planning to invest further in online check-in and check-out software.
Outside of technology, the other main areas that hoteliers will be focusing their budget on in 2021, are refurbishments and upgrades of leisure facilities, rooms and their F&B areas (36%) and property maintenance (26%).
Hoteliers were also asked what data they didn’t have available which would have proved beneficial during the pandemic. Cancellations data (18%), competitor data (13%) and business performance data (13%) were the top three.
The survey also revealed guests have responded positively to advances in technology across the industry.
The technologies that saw the greatest adoption by guests were found to be free Wi-Fi and TV streaming services available in-room (40%), followed by contactless payments (20%) and online check-in and check-out (18%).
Over half (56%) of hoteliers revealed guests have responded positively to the wider implementation of technology, while over two-thirds (68%) stated staff have had a positive response.
When asked how guest relations will change post-COVID, nearly half (42%) said they expected there will be an equal balance between technology and human interaction whilse over a third (38%) expected to see greater shift towards the use of contactless and low-touch technology.
Andrew Metcalfe, Chief Technical Officer at Guestline comments: “The last 12 months have necessitated the need for smarter and safer guest experiences.
“One of the lasting legacies of the pandemic will no doubt be the development of new technologies and platforms to achieve this, which are set to pave the way for recovery as hoteliers finally prepare to re-open and welcome guests back.
“Certainly the contactless experience, whether that be check-in, check-out or payments has been one of the defining developments of the past year.
“It is encouraging to see that both hoteliers and their guests recognise the benefits that this technology offers and have been keen to adopt it.
“Likewise, delivering a positive guest experience is at the heart of any decision for a hotelier in terms of operations, service and functions.
“Contactless software has been, and will continue to be, critical to achieving that as we now look forward. Ensuring we are delivering both a positive guest and hotelier experience was critical in the thinking and development of GuestStay.
“Guests can benefit from more time devoted to enjoying their stay rather than its administration, whilst hoteliers can enjoy the benefit of more time to devote to guests, the guest experience and building revenues, all important factors for what we sincerely hope are brighter days ahead.”
Guestline has announced an upgrade to its online check-in solution GuestStay to include check-out and payments (May 17).