Lee Hayhurst speaks to Julie White, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts vice president commercial for EMEA, about the impact COVID-19 has had on its ongoing plan for digital transformation
The adoption of mobile and contactless technology by hotel guests has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.
Speaking to Travolution in a latest webcast, Julie White, EMEA vice president commercial, said the hotel operator rolled out its new app last year at the right time.
She said the enhanced features in the app, like contactless check-in, the ‘lightening book’ speedy booking functionality and in-stay services met emerging customer demand.
During the pandemic Wyndham launched in-app menus, and spa and restaurant bookings via QR codes and a wearable wristband for contactless payments across properties.
Further developments include a mobile room key pilot that will be tested before eventually being rolled across its hotels.
Wyndham operates 9,000 properties worldwide and 500 in EMEA which have endured varying levels of closure during the pandemic as lockdowns were imposed and relaxed.
White said: “COVID accelerated some trends we already saw in progress particularly focussed on contactless solutions and mobile features.
“Our new app could not have come at a better time. It highlighted a lot of great features applicable to the new style of traveller.”
Wyndham is focussing on the sectors of travel likely to come back first with domestic drive-up properties likely to benefit from an immediate return.
White said while the technologies Wyndham is developing as part of digital transformation efforts will change the nature of hospitality it will not replace human interaction.
“Hospitality and guest relations is always going to be a part of what we do – our ‘count on me’ culture,” she said.
“Our teams are adapting to a combination of guests who want to interact wholly digitally and those who want to interact face to face.
“They key is that there is choice. The personal touch is always going to be there for them.”
In the webcast White also explained how Wyndham has invested in technology to host hybrid virtual and in-person business events and conferences.
And she talks about how the COVID-19 will impact on the distribution partnerships the operator has with trade partners.