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5 Ways Contactless Technology Can Improve the Guest Experience

Contactless experience

Sometimes convenience is more comfortable than conversation.

A guest who spent the day dealing with traffic, crowds and multiple flight delays arrives late at night, exhausted – and cranky. They walk up to their room, pull out their mobile phone and unlock the door with a virtual key. Then they slip quietly under the cool sheets, grateful they didn’t have to wait in line, hand over a credit card or talk to the front desk staff.

This is just one example of how contactless technology can improve the guest experience. While having contact with your guests is a key part of creating an excellent guest experience, so is – now, more than ever – not having contact with your guests.

“Contactless experiences are now essential for every hotel,” states the 2021 Mobility Report in Hospitality Benchmark from Oracle, a company that provides technology solutions for the hospitality industry. “Not only do they improve health safety, they’re the keys to giving guests the freedom and control they desire.”

The hotel industry was already moving toward contactless technology before the pandemic hit, but the crisis emphasized the importance of contactless options not just from a guest experience perspective, but also from a health and safety standpoint.

“The shift is simply an acceleration of trends that began before COVID-19,” according to a 2021 report on contactless hotel trends from Skift, a company that provides market research for the travel industry. In fact, the report states that 71 percent of guests agree or strongly agree with this statement: “When I return to a hotel in the future, I would be more likely to stay at a hotel offering self-service technology that minimizes physical contact with the staff.”

Here are five ways contactless technology can improve the guest experience:

  • 1. Make payment easy and safe. Taking payment in advance can help maintain distancing and hygiene by making sure a guest doesn’t have to wait in a crowded lobby, stand in line or hand over their physical credit card at check-in. This is one of the “touchpoints” where contactless technology really makes sense.
  • 2. Help guests plan their trip. A guest who has never stayed with you before may have questions about the room layouts, amenities and hotel features. They also may not want to call ahead to ask questions. Many guests, especially younger guests, may prefer to learn about the property on their own time and terms by taking a virtual 3D tour before they arrive.
  • 3. Create seamless check-in and room entry. Contactless technology can eliminate the need for a guest to stand in line, answer questions and wait for a key card to get into their room. This creates a frictionless check-in and room entry experience. In fact, keyless room entry was listed in the Skift report as one of the contactless technologies with a medium to high potential to stick around and become “cemented in the next normal” after the pandemic.
  • 4. Serve up contactless meals. Contactless technology can allow guests to use their mobile devices to browse menus, place orders and pay. They can enter dietary restrictions or personalized requests and get their food via room service or by picking it up in the hotel restaurant or another designated spot on the property. Online food and beverage ordering is another contactless technology Skift predicts has a high potential to stick around for the future.
  • 5. Fix problems during their stay. Chatbots, texting and other contactless communications allow guests to make requests and get issues resolved during their stay without having to complain or talk to a manager. This is easier, safer from a health standpoint and may appeal to younger guests who are used to communicating without face-to-face or voice communication. “Today’s contactless tools allow for far more instantaneous feedback, allowing hoteliers to make up for shortcomings while the guest is still in the hotel,” the Skift report states.

Contactless technology allows guests to get what they want and need at the right moment without face-to-face interaction, from booking to pre-check-in to check-in, as well as during their stay and through checkout and post-checkout. In its benchmark report, Oracle recommends integrating contactless options across all these phases of a booking and stay: “Exceed expectations and feature contactless across the guest journey.”