Integrating Guest Touchpoints: Investing in Cloud Technology and Open APIs in the Post-COVID Era
Even though the recovery phase is well underway for some hotels, the hospitality industry in large still faces a number of novel and overlapping challenges emanating from the pandemic. These include maintaining enhanced sanitation and social distancing standards, reassuring travelers who are increasingly worried about their health and safety, and earning revenue during periods of reduced occupancy, and promoting a seamless and personalized guest journey with limited staff and financial resources.
Cultivating a technology strategy focused on scalability, flexibility, and accessibility is paramount in the post-COVID era, since novel problems require novel solutions. Fortunately, hoteliers can leverage cloud technology to build a well integrated, highly efficient, and best of breed technology stack that enables enhanced connectivity and allows them to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic “new normal.” At the core, this includes a cloud mobile PMS that connects to best-of-breed cloud solutions from revenue management systems to CRMs to mobile POS systems to digital keys to mobile guest messaging and staff communication, and beyond to streamline operational processes, generate incremental revenue, and enable a contactless and enhanced guest experience. New technological solutions are emerging every day, and your PMS should be able to capitalize on these solutions as they arise.
An Open API is Good, but API-First is Better…
That’s why it’s critical to invest in a mobile PMS that is scalable and can easily integrate with third-party solutions. At base, your PMS should feature an open-API ecosystem that allows your data to be shared across platforms, but ideally, it should embrace an API-first approach that allows for completely seamless communication between programs at the individual API-level. Similarly, you should invest in technology vendors that have a track record of cultivating long-term strategic relationships with their clients and their technology partners. Technology partnerships must go deeper than just narrow one-off transactions, and vendors must provide ongoing support and updates, as well as demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of technological and industry trends.
When Presented with a Thousand Choices, it Helps to Have a Strategy
Hotels are also faced with a myriad of choices when considering whether to invest in potential third-party integrations, and choosing the right tech stack among literally thousands of options can be daunting. That is why brands should take time to consider the unique characteristics of their property, their market, their COVID risk profile, and their business goals before making a major technology purchase. A busy urban hotel chain that caters to business travelers will have entirely different opportunities and challenges than an independant rural resort focused on providing luxury and leisure. Before making a purchase, hoteliers should think: “how will this platform help to increase my revenue, streamline my operations, reduce my property’s exposure to COVID-19, and enhance my guests’ experience?”
An Integration for Every Guest Touchpoint…
There are a number of types of platforms that can aid hotels attempting to thrive in the post-COVID new normal:
- Guest-Facing Contactless Check-In/Check-Out: A mobile-PMS offers guests a choice when checking-in: They can either enjoy a convenient and contactless check-in through their mobile device, check-in at a guest-facing smart kiosk strategically placed throughout the hotel’s lobby, or check-in with a friendly staff member at a safe distance, aided by a mobile tablet. For a completely contactless experience, hoteliers should consider investing in a contactless payment system, as well as a system for mobile keyless entry.
- Mobile Guest Messaging: There are many reasons for a hotel to invest in mobile guest messaging: First and foremost, it offers a safe and hygienic way to personalize the guest journey without risking unnecessary physical contact between guests and staff. It also dramatically increases the efficiency of limited staff resources, because it enables a single staff member to assist multiple guests at one time. Finally, mobile guest messaging can help increase your online reputation and brand loyalty, by enabling you to address any potential questions or issues before they become negative online reviews.
- Mobile Automation and Staff Communication: A mobile PMS can greatly increase the efficiency of your back-of-the-house operations. Your housekeeping team will benefit from instant room status updates, while your frontline staff will benefit from streamlined communications. In fact, the right mobile PMS has the potential to create a 20% increase in housekeeping efficiency, while eliminating 80% of calls to the front desk — with no awkward and potentially unhygienic early-morning knockings! Integrating your PMS with platforms specifically designed for hospitality teams can increase their efficiency even more, while ensuring that every room is cleaned according to rigorous post-COVID hygiene standards.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Even though the world is starting to reopen from the pandemic, hotels are still facing reduced revenues stemming from depressed occupancy. A mobile PMS can help alleviate some of these revenue concerns by sending targeted messages for room upgrades, amenities, and monetized early check-in/ late check-out, directly to a guest’s mobile device. A CRM can aid these efforts by analyzing a hotel’s vast stores of customer data, giving hoteliers actionable insights into their guest’s preferences and behaviors and sending out automated and personalized email messages to guests to promote guest loyalty. By creating personalized customer profiles, hotels can craft more relevant messaging and offers, thereby encouraging more customer engagement and loyalty.
Of course, this list is hardly exhaustive. In the near future, increased adoption of artificial intelligence, voice assisted technology (think Alexia and Siri), and the Internet-of-Things, will enable a completely personalized and contactless in-room experience. Some hotels are even experimenting with robots as a contactless alternative to many operational functions. Regardless of where future technology takes us, however, hoteliers need a flexible and scalable PMS to capitalize on the myriad of third-party solutions. With the right technology, hoteliers can streamline their operations, increase revenue, enhance the guest experience, and most importantly, keep their customers safe and healthy.
Learn more about StayNTouch’s mobile hotel PMS and see how a cloud PMS with open APIs paired with contactless guest check-in can help future-proof your property, streamline your business, and enhance your guest experience.