The hotel industry is shaking itself up to create a modern, safe and comfortable environment for guests to stay; recognizing that without confidence guests will stay away. While this shake up was unplanned and unexpected for most hoteliers, it does present several opportunities to start creating closer bonds with guests and customers, and in many cases with suppliers.
Uniguest’s Steve Keisling sees adding value for clients right now as of paramount importance, “When the pandemic began to impact our friends and clients, we took an immediate stance to help build programs, services and technologies that will help them get back on their feet, build trust and ensure the safety and wellbeing of the clients we service.
“We moved fast to bring a range of antimicrobial solutions, overlays and hardware that would allow hoteliers to continue using pre-existing technologies in their properties and build trust with their customers and staff.”
Where we’re heading
The move away from ‘shared’ facilities and equipment to personalized experience and communications will give chance for hoteliers to start creating a more active engagement with guests; their stay starts to become unique to them.
An obvious and tactical trend we’re seeing is hotels move away from ‘clutter’, anything that isn’t necessary in a room or space is being removed. This creates challenges in communicating services, menus and facilities to guests.
Traditionally print-based products would provide this service, but now that is replaceable with digital directory technology.
There are a couple of options, one of which is to use the in-room guest TV system to provide this info, the other is to adopt a mobile guest compendium, accessed via a QR code, branded for any hotel and delivering the info the guest needs on a device that feels ‘safe’ to them.
Using the TV then brings its own challenges as using a shared remote control might not sit comfortably with the guest, in this instance a virtual remote control can also be supplied, allowing guests to control their in-room TV with their personal devices; again accessed via a QR code.
While guests are using their personal device, you have another way to engage them, provide additional service and information and perhaps even unique offers and communications for them.
Beyond the guest room
Beyond the guest room there is a need to provide clear directions and instructions in public spaces, ideally without the involvement of a member of staff. In this instance digital signage becomes a key player.
Keisling sees a change in focus, “The pre-pandemic world was focused on fixed messaging at strategic points within the hotel. Meeting signage, menu boards and welcome screens are commonplace and are a pretty standard staple within the properties we service. However, the need has arisen for mobile messaging. The hotel needs the ability to move quickly and supply critical messaging beyond the standard touchpoints.
“At Uniguest, we have developed a series of mobile digital signage solutions for placement throughout the hotel designed to be used when you need them and where you need them. Mobility, wireless connection and pre-built standard templates are all part of this solution to help hoteliers get their message heard.”
As well as allowing the communication of health and safety messaging and directional information, digital signage can be integrated with people counting and occupancy management technologies to ensure your shared spaces remain under their safe capacity limit.
New solutions for a new world
Keisling continued, “With the launch of our density measurement solution, hoteliers can now strategically place small digital sign solution outside a room that will count occupants entering and leaving. This has a programmed ability to know the desired occupancy level, keep count of occupants, convey the occupancy level to a sign at the entrance and even convey alert messaging to the hotel staff when a room reaches critical levels via mobile messaging. All of this ensures guest awareness and safety, adherence to local laws and staff engagement and awareness.”
When spaces become too crowded, digital signs will trigger to issue warnings and prevent people entering the space, or asking those using the space to exit as soon as is appropriate; this can help reduce dwell time in breakfast areas for example, or make gym facilities self-managing.
People will argue with staff who ask them to leave but there is no point arguing with a TV screen; people will, in general, just accept the situation more freely.
The challenges presented by the pandemic of 2020 will be felt long after the start of the new year and it is key that investments made now are future proofed to be applicable beyond the pandemic. Keisling believes that now is the time to embrace innovation, “Restrictions on travel, closing of restaurants and bars, cancellation of meetings and events and closures of entertainment venues has left an immediate and long-lasting impact. During these shifting times innovation has become more important than ever. We all need to innovate, create and build impactful programs to build trust with our patrons and guests and show we are preparing for a safe future in every sense.”