“When we reduced contact… we noted 98% fewer cases” – CDC
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that hotels operate. Understandably, guests want to reduce human contact as much as possible – and successful hotel operators need to focus on delivering just that.
There are a lot of things that can be done to achieve contactless daily operators or at least reduce the amount of contact as much as possible. Your goal should be to minimize the risk of infection for the safety of your employees as well as your guests.
Your current processes may be not only a risk for infection but also outdated and inefficient. Are you still using physical registration cards? Are guests required to fill out a significant amount of details at check-in instead of providing it to you in advance during the booking process?
Using a PMS (Property Management System) can be an important tech investment that will provide you with an array of benefits and help you through COVID-19 and beyond.
Digitize the Check-in process
When you’re using a paper check-in process, there are several issues:
- It requires the guest and staff to stay in close contact for longer
- It’s inefficient
- It increases the possibilities of errors
- It’s time-consuming
- It requires contact from both parties
As such, you have to look at how contactless tech can be used to digitize the check-in process. Cloud-based hotel PMS with digital registration card technology allows you to eliminate physical registration cards. protel’s digital registration card integration preloads all the guest information onto the tablet, this allows guests to simply check their information is correct and sign to check-in. They can confirm their profile information and everything goes into your system in real-time.
Additionally, the hotel should also take the necessary precautions to clean the tablet screen after each use. It provides guests with peace of mind that you’re doing what you can to eliminate the possibility of a contagion on the screen.
Reduce the Amount of Data Entry from Staff
Take a look at what processes you currently perform – even with the help of your hotel PMS – that you are still using manual procedures or paper for. Look to reduce these. There may be quite a few errors in the data, too, because of being unable to read handwriting and because of everyday user errors like filling in the wrong fields, etc. Think about how much time this uses up on a regular basis. If you were to digitize the check-in process it becomes not only more accurate but also more efficient in terms of time-saving. Your employees can focus more on keeping guests happy rather than unwittingly extending the check-in process.
Your staff can also be freed up to do other things, such as:
- Discuss ideas with guests on how to spend their time
- Sanitize various surfaces
- Walk the common areas to ensure guest needs are being met
Provide Sanitizer Stations Everywhere
Your guests will want to have access to sanitizer everywhere they go. By seeing stations, they’ll see your commitment to cleanliness. It will also provide them with the opportunity to sanitize their hands in order to avoid spreading germs. The stations should be located conveniently near public areas, including the front desk, elevators/stairs, and food/coffee areas.
It’s not just about sanitizer, either. There are plenty of other hygiene measures that you can put into place. You may want to have someone from the janitorial/housekeeping team visible in the high-traffic areas whose sole job is to disinfect. You can also create an “official room seal” to indicate a room has not been accessed after receiving a deep clean, similar to what the Hilton brand is putting into motion. Also, this is not an obstacle but rather an opportunity, customized, branded self-adhesive labels and tape are really very easy to source and provide a great opportunity to grow your brand.
Remodel Breakfast, Happy Hour, and Other Social Gatherings
Your hotel may have grown accustomed to offering various incentives that help to entice guests to book their stay at your property. This could be a free continental breakfast, a breakfast buffet, snacks throughout the day, happy hour, or even an appetizer buffet. Whatever your incentive may be has to be reimagined as a contactless experience.
Guests don’t want to stand in line and touch tongs and other items that have just been touched by other guests. However, that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate these offerings. You simply have to take a different approach to how it will be offered.
Instead of self-service buffets, ensure that they are being served by hotel employees on the other side of the counter. Offer individual, pre-packed items so that there’s less contact on each product. These can be items you prepare and package inhouse, or items that are already purchased packaged for the guest.
Your guests will appreciate the thought that you have put into a contactless social gathering so that they can still enjoy the value your hotel is offering.
As for getting ideas and feedback, consider adding a survey that goes out to your guests upon checkout. Find out if they enjoyed what you provided and ask them what they would like to see in the future. Guests already know how they want to see everything go contactless, so it’s often best to go right to the source. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they felt uneasy about any aspect of your hotel’s ability to provide a sanitized environment. This feedback is incredibly valuable.
Provide Digital Guides to Minimize Paper in the Rooms
There may be a lot of paper inside of the rooms. This includes everything from takeout menus to local directories. The paper is touched by each and every guest that stays there. Typically, it sits on a table or is inside of a drawer. It’s not part of the routine items that are cleaned by housekeeping. As such, it could well be filled with countless germs since who knows how many guests have used those same papers?
Digital guides can be used inside the rooms. You can choose to provide every room with a wall-mounted tablet. You can also update the TV guide with the information that was traditionally printed on paper. Additionally, you can provide an email to guests with all of the information, as well as providing this via your branded website or guest-facing app.
This is your chance to get creative with how you are going to eliminate the paper inside the rooms. Even the complete removal of pens and paper pads should be considered during this time as it is just another thing that can be touched from guest to guest. If people do want stationery, have it available at the front desk, in a sealed pouch, so that it can be given out upon request.
Allow Guests to Check Out Digitally
Just as the check-in process needs to be transferred to a digital outlet, so does the check-out process. The guest experience is going to be very different. However, it doesn’t mean that it has to be worse. The average guest wants to leave the hotel once they’re ready to go. They don’t want to stand in line at the front desk in order to check out.
There are a few things that you can do to help digitize the checkout process:
- Email the hotel bill to the guest as opposed to printing out a paper copy
- Allow guests to check out using an app or your website
- Have guests leave room keys in the room upon checkout (or use digital keys)
- When guests don’t have to stop anywhere on their way out, it’s more convenient. Additionally, it can free up your employees to focus on other things that can enhance the guest experience even more.
Get Creative & Embrace Digital Solutions
Contactless daily operations are likely going to be the way of the future. Although it’s necessary throughout the pandemic, the global outbreak of COVID-19 has forever impacted the hotel industry. It’s important to adapt in order to maintain a successful business while also easing the insecurities of hotel guests. There are various things that you can do in order to reduce the spread of germs.
Part of it involves getting creative. Make a list of everything that involves contact. Now, reimagine a way to do things that doesn’t involve contact. Survey past hotel guests. Ask questions on social media. Take inspiration from your peers. Get your guests involved in the decisions and let them feel that they are contributing an important part towards the changes.
Embrace the various tech solutions that can be used. Use passport scanners to simplify the check-in process so that you’re not taking someone’s ID, placing it in a copier, and handing it back to them. Encourage the use of mobile apps so that people can complete the check-in (and check-out) process using their own device. Use mobile access control (so-called keyless entry) for hotel rooms instead of the plastic cards that are used over and over again. The advanced software that allows you to go contactless in every way is already out there – you simply have to decide which technology options will actually enhance your current workflow, guest, and staff wellbeing.
Learn more about the protel PMS by requesting your demo today. We can show you contactless processes by using protel Air’s Passport Scanner, Digital Registration Card, and more. It can be one of the best ways for you to move to a post-pandemic way of operating. One that your future guests will feel comfortable using, and be happy to safely book and rebook time and again.