The Tech-supported, Contactless ‘New Normal’ For Hotels, Resorts and Casinos Amid COVID-19

A Q&A with a senior hotel operations leader of one of Las Vegas’ leading hotels on COVID-19’s effect on the hospitality industry

According to a recent survey of 1000 people who have visited a hotel, casino, or resort in the past 2 years, nearly 90% want a mobile app to manage their entire stay without having to interact with a person. Does this number surprise you, and do you think this is feasible? 
While this may be true for the industry overall,  for places like Las Vegas, this number seems high because of the uniqueness of our gaming customers. With digital, you have limited options to try and get a “better room,” negotiate a VIP Lounge experience, apply comps, etc.

Are you seeing a high demand for tech such as mobile check-in apps, keyless entry, and mobile concierge services?
Yes, but the trick is it has to be done right. Customers appreciate a digital experience when it works seamlessly, but if facilities roll something out too quickly, that’s not battle-tested, they may regret it. From my experience, digital concierge services are still a work-in-progress – they’re getting there. We have had a better experience testing bots, using text-based communication features rather than a standalone concierge app.

What technologies or tech-enabled services are you seeing a raised demand for in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
We are seeing increased demand for mobile ordering, mobile queuing, digital menus, property maps – and QR codes are everywhere.

Over three-quarters of the survey respondents feel the COVID-19 pandemic will bring about changes to the onsite lodging experience that will last well into the future. What are some changes you have made that you plan to keep in place – even after the COVID-19 pandemic?
Mobile ordering, mobile queuing, digital menus, property maps, and QR codes are mostly here to stay – especially because they provide our industry with a way to shed costs for menus – and they allow for dynamic pricing.

Have you seen any technology-supported changes in behavior or trends among hotel guests? 
Mobile ordering and mobile queuing are well-liked and have quickly become the new normal. Also, “Work from Anywhere” is here to stay and with that, there is a new demand, and opportunity for our industry to provide remote offices.

Almost all survey respondents say it is very or extremely important that the facility they stay at enforces COVID-19 safety policies. How can technology be leveraged to make it easier for hotel staff and guests to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines?
Amenities such as Digital Keys allow for less contact, and digital concierge apps allow us to quickly update any changes to protocols or communicate cleaning updates to guests.

What are some technologies or tech-enabled capabilities that may not yet exist, that you would like to see become possible in the near future?
Improved and more accurate digital queuing apps and systems would be welcome both by the industry and by guests. Also, beacon wayfinding where items can be precisely located within a building where GPS just doesn’t cut it would bring in a new world of efficiency with the hospitality industry.