The hospitality sector has overcome a fair share of crises over the past decades. But nothing has shaken this industry quite like the COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdown restrictions shutting down businesses across the globe, hotels and restaurants were forced to suddenly re-examine fundamental strategies.
Now, with the re-opening date for restaurants, pubs, and hotels fast approaching, the question is –
How will the hospitality industry adjust?
Hoteliers and restaurant owners are considering different ways to reopen after Coronavirus, and a great amount of thought is being put into what will happen when they do. As it stands, it seems that technology is every business’s saving grace. Knowing this, the hospitality sector is making the re-evaluation of technology strategies a top priority.
If you’ve found that you’re in a similar boat and need to lean on technology for a helping (or guiding) hand, then this article is for you.
Let’s take a look at:
The 5 Trending Technology Tools You Can Use to Safely and Successfully Reopen After Lockdown
1. Cashless and Contactless Payments
Cashless and contactless payments have one very clear benefit in a post lockdown business: reducing the need to handle cards and cash.
Did you know that money can carry more germs than a household toilet?.
Using technology, such as the Square Reader, means that businesses can accept payment via contactless cards – anywhere.
The benefits are threefold and this innovative system:
- Enables faster payments (so you can reduce queuing time)
- Boosts the confidence of patrons who are wary of handling cash
- Keeps staff members safe by removing the need to handle money
At this point, you may be wondering – “how do cashless payments work, exactly”?
Currently, there are a few options to choose from. We’ll highlight the two most popular choices.
- Mobile apps that connect to a customer’s card/s. To complete a transaction, one would use a smartphone to enter payment information or scan a code.
- Plug-in credit card readers. Here, you’ll be supplied with a tiny swiping device that plugs into a smartphone. It syncs with an app to keep track of payments and allows patrons to pay without having to handle dirty keypads. This is the perfect tool for those who will be delivering food and beverages to homes and offices.
As for security, you’ll be encouraged to know that most cashless applications encrypt credit card information the moment a swipe is made.
2. Ordering and Delivery Tools
COVID-19 has certainly led to an influx of food ordering and delivery software, and for good reason. Trying times have forced consumers to stay at home as much as possible and restaurants will host fewer patrons for many months post-COVID-19. Social distancing laws, as well as some customer’s desire to reduce the risk of exposure, have created a new preference for ordering meals to be delivered.
With this in mind, businesses should opt for software that’s going to best integrate with their current systems. Tools that have proved to work seamlessly and include added perks will also have the advantage.
Best to browse the internet to see what type of ordering and delivery tools are available in your region. Most applications do come with free trials and we encourage you to make use of these opportunities before subscribing to a service.
3. Touchless Digital Menu Systems
Touchless digital menu systems were invented before the COVID pandemic but their need is now imperative.
How do they work?
Whether you use your own website or decide to use third-party software – the concept remains the same. Essentially, you will provide a link to an online version of your menu that patrons can access with their smartphones. This eliminates the need for handling actual menus that would need to be constantly sanitised or printing screeds of single-use, disposable menus. It will save a fortune on printing costs!
However, typing out a web address on a small device can be tedious and mistakes are easily made. As a suggestion, you can save your customers from frustration by using scannable QR Codes. This means that your guests can simply open the cameras on their phones, scan the code, and then have immediate access to your menu.
Additionally, some technology tools allow users to order meals through a digitised menu on their mobile devices. You simply select what you want to eat, and the order is sent straight through to the kitchen.
4. Contactless Check-In/Check-Out and Keyless Room Entry
Contactless technology may be the new normal – so, embrace it now! For example, contactless check-in/check-out tools allow guests to check-in, check out, and unlock rooms using their mobile devices. This encourages social distancing and eliminates the need to handle room keys.
Two great contactless check-in/check-out and keyless mobile apps available to the hotel industry are:
- Fuel – an awesome app that can be customised with your own colour palette and logo, and;
- OpenKey – which can be added to your own branded app.
Both of these apps are subscription-based. They’re similar in price and work effectively to reduce time spent in the hotel lobby where handling social distancing may be tricky.
5. Communication Tools
Communication with customers has always been a key factor in a good relationship. But now, more than ever, you need to communicate with people so that they know that you are making every effort to guarantee their safety while proving your efficiency.
You can use traditional methods of social media marketing to convey your messages, you can invest in a Wi-Fi marketing tool that connects you to customers, or you can take on another growing technology trend that uses chatbots.
Chatbots are the equivalent to a modern-day concierge. They provide a constant flow of well-timed communication to encourage a flawless customer experience.
For example, they can be used to check guests in and out, to make reservations, and they can even give local restaurant recommendations, etc.
Five current chatbot tools to research include:
* Once again, remember to take advantage of free trials so that you can select a ChatBot that will integrate well with your current systems and communicate effectively with your type of audiences.
On an end note:
Stay calm and remain flexible.
- Hospitality.Net – The Importance Of Technology In Post COVID-19 Hotel Operations