Whether we like or not, the Coronavirus pandemic will have lasting effects on the hospitality industry as a whole. While no one could predict that this would happen, many hotels were left vulnerable and unprepared in the wake of this crisis. From antiquated technology systems to outdated business practices, hoteliers have been forced to take a hard look at their properties and examine areas of improvement. Although we don’t know what awaits the hospitality industry in the post-coronavirus world, hoteliers can still focus on preparing their hotels for success once things do turn around. One of those areas in particular that will likely have a big impact on the future of hotels is technology, and more specifically, property management software.
While most hotels won’t be able to transform their front desks into touchless, AI-enabled smart kiosks overnight, whether they can afford to or not, there will likely be questions about the viability of these solutions once the dust has settled. Is reducing human contact and interaction necessary for hotels to succeed going forward? Can hotels continue to afford to operate with the same technology and business processes? Will there be a hesitancy for guests to stay at hotels that haven’t adjusted their properties to fit the new realities facing the world? While we don’t have definitive answers to these questions, all indications suggest that things will change, and whether these changes are short-lived or here for the long haul, is still yet to be determined. With that being said, hoteliers should start to examine what areas of their business they will need update, if they haven’t done so already.
The Importance of Property Management Software in the Post-Coronavirus World
While the days of on-premise software solutions may have already been numbered, this crisis may have pushed things over the edge. As many hoteliers adapted to working from home, those using outdated software solutions likely experienced a variety of challenges. The inability to access their property management software remotely, not allowing them to adjust rates, view reports, access the reservation database, and more, assuredly left many hoteliers in a bind. While the importance of cloud-based property-management software has been visualized during this pandemic, the reality is that this type of modern technology will become even more important when hotels re-open and business starts to resume.
In a world where higher-standards of hygiene, reduced human interaction, and social distancing will be the norm, at least for a certain period of time, having a cloud-based PMS solution that is mobile integrated will become essential going forward. With the intuitive nature of cloud-based solutions, not only does the property management system itself offer greater capabilities, but it also allows for greater connectivity to interface with other applications. In regard to hygiene, the ability to check in and out remotely via a hotel specific mobile app effectively minimizes the need to interact with the front desk staff, allowing guests to do more directly from their mobile device. With less people standing around the lobby waiting to be served, especially during busy periods, social distancing will be easier to adhere to while helping to reduce crowding at a hotel. Cloud property management software with added integrated mobile functionality, such as Chorum PMS, allows for guests to be able to order additional services such as towels or pillows from their tablet or mobile device, reducing the need to visit the front desk or even use the phone in their room. This will help to mitigate any potential risk from unclean surfaces or screens, which in turn, will ease the mind of guests and help them have a more comfortable stay. Property management software that integrates with keyless entry solutions will also be highly in demand, which will help promote enhanced cleanliness overall.
Technology to Improve Staff Safety and Satisfaction
With the focus on guests and how to best ensure they are comfortable, and their needs are being met once hotels begin to start receiving reservations, there is also the safety of hotel staff to take into consideration. While cleanliness will be extremely important going forward, the fact of the matter is that hotel staff such as front desk agents and housekeepers will still be putting themselves at risk.
A more modern cloud-based solution with mobile housekeeping for example, will help reduce the exposure for housekeepers in particular. Leveraging a mobile app, housekeepers are able to prioritize cleaning rooms based on estimated time of arrival, ensuring that only the rooms that need cleaning immediately will be completed first. In addition, with the ability to see what rooms need to be cleaned, housekeeping staff can avoid interactions with guests, which helps protect staff, but also reduces the chances of any guest dissatisfaction from unwanted interactions with hotel staff. Once rooms are cleaned using any updated housekeeping standards in the post-coronavirus world, housekeepers can simply mark the room as operational on their mobile device, which eliminates any guesswork for the front desk agent and ensures all staff members are on the same page. This also reduces the need for housekeeping staff to share paper checklists, which in the past would have increased human interaction amongst staff. For front desk agents, with guests being able to check in remotely and the ability to send guests messages to their mobile device, the risk would be greatly reduced as well.
Investing in Technology After the Coronavirus
While mobile capable, cloud-based property management software has existed for years now, many hotels have still opted to use their current on-premise systems, as the need to upgrade has never really existed. This pandemic will change that in the future. Although hotels still may opt to focus on improving hygiene and enhancing cleanliness standards, and these are definitely essential aspects of winning guests back, the reality is that staff and guest interaction will need to be limited to achieve the levels of success seen before this crisis. As mentioned earlier in this article, the vast majority of hotels won’t be to afford investing in artificial intelligence and touchless kiosks. However, by upgrading to a more modern, cloud-based property management software, hoteliers can set themselves up for success in both the near and long-term. By leveraging all of the benefits outlined in this article, hotels can quickly transform their property to meet the needs of the post-coronavirus guest, while helping to protect staff and keep them safe as well. Additionally, in many cases, cloud property management software is actually more cost effective than traditional on-premise systems, which will help ease the financial burden for hotels during this transition period as well. If there was ever a time to make the switch, now seems like a better time than ever.
For additional resources during this time, we have put together a list of Hospitality Industry Resources from a variety of publications that you might find helpful. From everyone at Jonas Chorum, we wish you all the best as we work towards a successful rebound.