It’s clear that consumers are looking for contactless, mobile-first travel experiences, but is there even room in tight 2021 hotel budgets to invest in technology?
It’s difficult in any year to predict what a successful hotel budget looks like. But cliched phrases like “no one knows what the future holds” have frankly never been more true. At least in a normal year, hoteliers are able to forecast their potential revenue and needs based on patterns from previous years. This year? Good luck. There’s no telling when a vaccine will be ready, how quickly countries will be able to vaccinate their population, and what risks will carry through to next year and beyond.
Now, the process will rely heavily on educated guesses as the world continues to go through rapid change. Yet hoteliers shouldn’t feel hopeless when it comes to their budget. Several critical attributes of the new normal have already solidified: low contact service, cleanliness, and safety. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly clear what hoteliers should invest in to successfully navigate the next year.
Technology that reduces contact is a sure bet for increasing booking, revenue, and guest satisfaction in 2021—but as in any recession, every expenditure will undergo extra scrutiny and contactless technology has its fair share of detractors. They generally fall into one of two camps: those who feel contactless technology is an overhyped trend that will eventually fade over the next few years and those who feel it’s just too expensive for most properties.
And either way, is it worth the investment? Simply put, yes. Like any good investment, it can stand up against the criticism.
First, the habits formed during COVID won’t just fade the way other trends do. Experts predict living through the pandemic will likely have a similar effect on today’s population as The Great Depression did in the early 20th Century—meaning this will stand out as a critical period that forever shapes the way we all think and live. Even as the fear of infection subsides, a long-term affinity for cleanliness and contactless will remain.
Next, take into account that certain tools like contactless payments were already rising in popularity before the pandemic, out of convenience more than concern for cleanliness. And even when COVID becomes a distant memory, the convenience will remain. Most contactless solutions are also mobile solutions—and we live in a world where people have their phones on them 24/7. The long-term utility of mobile capabilities isn’t going anywhere.
Finally, the biggest concern: cost. Many properties believe contactless technology is cost-prohibitive, only suitable for large hotels and brands. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the large majority of contactless solutions are incredibly scalable both in function and price, built to work for any property—boutique or brand, 30 rooms or 3,000. The cost per month for most hotels isn’t in the thousands, but in the hundreds. For many, it’s often a lower monthly bill than laundry.
And beyond the low costs is real value. Dining revenue soars when guests can order from their phone and select contactless delivery. Reservations for on-property activities and amenities rise as well. Even more importantly, guest satisfaction spikes significantly when guests feel they have 24/7 access to everything they need right at their fingertips.
At this point, mobile technology that enables contactless service isn’t just a good idea—it’s becoming a standard. Guests are looking for amenities like mobile check-in and contactless dining options. The properties that can provide them will come out ahead during the pandemic, but also after. Once guests get used to mobile convenience, they’ll never give it up. To truly create a successful hotel budget for 2021, hoteliers need to create space for innovation and technology.
Want to hear more about why technology is a smart investment for 2021 and beyond? Hear from THE GEORGE Director of Operations Kerrie Hunter about the boutique hotel’s experience implementing a digital guest experience—and why she thinks contactless technology is worth every penny—in an on-demand webinar.