There’s no doubt the hospitality industry faces a long road to recovery post-2020. The guest experience was already changing prior to the pandemic — and even more so during the pandemic. Those businesses that use technology to improve the guest experience will be well positioned to overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities emerging in this ever-changing environment.
In a webinar (now available on-demand) on Hospitality Trends That Matter in a Post Pandemic World — part of our CONNECT webinar series — Allstream’s Don Thorsen hosts a panel of IT experts in the hospitality industry, including:
- Ashley Williams, Hospitality Specialist, Mitel
- Chad Collins, Vice-President of Sales, Vtech Hospitality
- Dave Burtnik, Account Executive, Allstream
The trend toward personalization
Before COVID, we were already seeing a trend toward personalization in the hospitality industry, with the rise of boutique hotels and specialized experiences, even from major hotel brands. That trend isn’t going away any time soon, but it does come with some challenges.
The proliferation of boutique brands pre-pandemic has identified a need in the market, says Burtnik. “If the mainstream hotels don’t recognize that need for improved personalized service, their market share is going to be reduced by the boutique hotels. So every type of hotel out there, whether it’s boutique or mainstream or limited-service, [they] still have to keep in mind that customer service aspect.”
But, “personalization is kind of a tricky one because not everybody wants to have their stay personalized,” says Collins. “These properties and brands are already collecting a staggering amount of data on guests. But I think the personal touch aspect of amalgamating … all of that data in a meaningful way still leaves a lot to be desired.”
And with touchless technology and self-service kiosks, “it’s really hard to continue to provide that personalized, customized experience through a robot,” adds Williams. Hotels have to balance different types of guest personas — those who want more personalization and those who want more privacy.
The right communication platform can help them adapt to those different types of guests personas. For example, perhaps a guest is frustrated with the bot behind the customer engagement platform and wants to revert back to a human interaction. “When you’re applying these additional applications on top to personalize a guest stay, you still have that framework there to fall back on,” says Williams.
Thanks to COVID, there have been significant cutbacks throughout the hospitality industry. So coming out of the pandemic, many hotels will try to keep doing more with less. “One of the ways you’ll be able to do more with less is have better technology to service your guests — and not have your guest service suffer,” says Collins. “In fact, your guest service can improve.”
But you can’t provide a personalized guest experience without the tools to integrate different applications. “The staff needs the tools in place to integrate those applications in order to stay focused on that guest experience,” says Williams.
Some hotels may share an ownership group or even a general manager, so they need to make sure they have the ability to seamlessly transfer calls back and forth to their different sites, says Burtnik. Portable phones are important, especially if staff members are running around between various locations.
“You might even get to the point where you have one phone system, delivering the functionality for multiple hotels,” he says. But, to do more with less, hotels need to have the right technology — and right integrations — in place.
Moving to cloud communications
The hospitality industry has been slower than most in moving their communication systems to the cloud, but the pandemic has shone a spotlight on many of those benefits.
“There could be different versions of moving to the cloud. Quite often you’re going to have analog phones still in the rooms, so that’s going to require some equipment onsite to support those analog devices,” says Burtnik. “Of course, you can go fully cloud where you have almost everything in the cloud, and only have SIP or IP devices onsite.”
But, in the current market, he sees a hybrid approach as being the most prevalent. “The security of a cloud solution is going to be far superior to any kind of on-prem system,” says Burtnik, “so if security is your concern, you definitely want to have things in the cloud.”
It’s also important to be able to scale when needed. Because in a post-pandemic world, people will want to hit the road, go see the world and have some fun. As Thorsen puts it: “I think the hospitality industry is going to explode when this is over.”
View the on-demand webinar or download our free guides:
- Positioning your hospitality business for the next disruption
- From premise to cloud: Where is your hotel on your technology journey?
- Six advantages cloud communications bring to hospitality
- Five steps you can take today to prepare for the next disruption
- Infographic: Hospitality trends that matter in a post-pandemic world