What to expect from hotel tech in 2021

To say that COVID has shown itself to be the biggest disruptor to all industries, especially hospitality, would be an understatement. Pivoting plans and learning how to model day‐to‐day life within the constraints of social distancing requirements, without losing the human connection has proven to be a balancing act.

Despite all this, one area that has seen more growth and adaptability than almost anything else is how technology has met current virtual living needs. Communication platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, etc., have all become part of our society’s everyday vernacular.

The question then becomes: Is there a way to fit our new mode of connecting into the hotel guest experience? The answer overwhelmingly is yes. Technology will be one of the biggest tools at the hospitality industry’s disposal to enhance health and safety standards upon reopening and gaining the trust of travelers in 2021.

Two key factors that will grow in significance in the months ahead include hoteliers’ commitment to continuing the development of a contactless stay as well as the use of tech platforms to assist hotels that haven’t been able to bring back a full staff upon reopening.

The endless capabilities of contactless

In response to the new travel and hospitality environment, hoteliers can expect to see a shift in tech partners’ focus from solely providing staff efficiency to speaking more to the consumer user experience.

In the past, platforms developed and implemented across the hotel industry have centered around capabilities for staff. The next several months will see an uptick in adhering to guest convenience. Solutions will not lose the ease of use for hotel staff but rather put more of an added emphasis on how it can personalize each stay for guests.

Current technology translates guest services within a hotel to allow for personalization and convenience while simultaneously removing the need for face‐to‐face discussions between staff and guests. Front desk and concierge services can be adapted and moved to a hotel app to allow for mobile check‐in, keyless entry and beyond, putting more services and amenities at a guests’ fingertips.

Contactless communication gives hotels the power to adhere to both the socially distanced travel landscape while offering unique individual touches that are synonymous with an unforgettable hotel stay.

A digital extension of the team

With many hotels unable to bring back a full team upon reopening, staff shortages have placed a strain on properties around the globe. Workloads have significantly increased for individual employees across various departments within a hotel on top of the fact that everyone is working to ensure new health and safety protocols are consistently followed. This is where the right tech platform comes into play to work as a digital organization and task management assistant.

Hospitality‐focused systems hold the potential to help information flow in real‐time and keep entire teams up to date with the latest regulations, work order needs, etc. The right technology partner creates a way for hotel management to assign to‐dos to multiple employees at once, ensuring the task is completed as quickly as possible. Real‐time alerts on the frequency of cleanings, tracking the progress of tasks and more from one centralized platform helps to establish accountability and empower a smaller team to manage the day‐to‐day.

Hoteliers who weave guest‐focused technology into their daily operations in 2021 will see the advantages in back-of-house operations and front-of-house connections with guests. Identifying the right tech platform to partner with now will help alleviate inefficiencies due to staff shortages and speak to both the contactless and personalization benefits, which will ultimately drive bookings.

There are still many unknowns within the travel industry in the months ahead. However, properties that begin to adapt and work existing technology into their day‐to‐day will find themselves ahead of the curve.

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