By Zain Jaffer
Progress is relative. This history of changes in the travel and hospitality industry has been marked by great technological advances and the consequences of advances made through the lives of consumers. Take a quick look at the launch of the iPhone in 2007. While it’s not a specific development for the hospitality industry, it changed everything related to the way people want to travel. Suddenly, billions of people could make pocket-sized restaurant reservations. They could leave their room and have an interactive map through a new city, with the ability to keep in touch with their family and coordinate with friends. From here you can track the appearance of contactless credit cards, mobile travel agents, taxi offices, check-in kiosks; the list goes on.
Similarly, the severity of the COVID-19 crisis and the new needs it introduced will be a turning point in the post-COVID sector. In terms of recovery work, it is incredibly advantageous for hoteliers and travel professionals to be aware of technological advances that will set higher standards for new normal hospitality. Hospitality and travel professionals do not need to incorporate all the whistles of the new market, but they would be advised to make early investments in technology-based solutions that will have significant subsequent effects. Below are some of the trends in the pandemic era that are rapidly becoming historical events.
RV and leisure travel
For many avid travelers, virtual experiences replaced the planning and anticipation of leisure travel. Travel professionals, hoteliers and holiday destination economies invest in virtual reality deals to expand their experiences beyond travel restrictions, offering travelers a temporary substitute at home. But the actual VR frequency measurement shows signs of some permanence force as post-COVID travel preferences take shape.
Virtual reality technologies are not meant to replace real experience, but many travel and hospitality professionals invest in virtual reality-based marketing to increase interest in their offerings. RV tours are offered around the world to increase interest in tourist sites and tourist destinations, which makes people want to see the places for themselves. Vendors at the travel fair are gearing up to offer immersive experiences of their offerings, hoping that a more vivid demonstration of the holiday destination will translate into tickets, reservations and conversions. And while it’s too early to understand exactly the return value of virtual reality investments, virtual reality deals have come a long way in increasing travelers ’confidence and re-engaging with a loyal clientele. Even when the issue of security recedes completely into the background, virtual reality marketing will soon emerge as the smartest strategy for connecting with consumers; high-budget business spending and other digital marketing tactics will become obsolete when any potential traveler can put on a headset and be instantly transported to the edge of a beach.
Biometric security technology: never see any other line?
One of the main barriers to travel and hospital activity was guest-staff interaction, and the market acted quickly to provide a number of solutions. Now, virtual identification checks can be integrated into backup platforms, integrated applications can grant access to digital room keys, and enhanced biometric technologies have the power to complement (or eventually replace) the traditional process of pre-flight screening.
Biometric screening (face, thumb, voice, etc.) will be a pillar of post-COVID convenience. It will reduce both consumer wait times and consumer-staff interactions, allowing professionals to reserve their time and focus on the more complex needs of guests and travelers. A reliable facial scan can cut the line in half and self-directed access control could significantly simplify guest registration. It is important to note that more biometric data has more responsibility; investments in biotechnology must be combined with cybersecurity and infrastructures that protect a guest’s identity.
Return to self-service
Throughout the pandemic, the technological response has put more power in the hands of the customer in terms of experience management. Booking a table, calling for a shared walk, and even ordering a meal no longer requires any human interaction. These human interactions were once the core of hospitality offerings, but the post-COVID guest has a new understanding of luxury: the ability to provide services for themselves. Today, guests and travelers understand quality in terms of fast response times, consistency between channels, and intuitive, self-directed use. People show preference for managing minor tasks on their own; a study by Zebra Global Hospitality showed that 70% of customers preferred a smartphone check-in for more efficiency and speed.
The hospitality service used to seem like long lines of reception and well-informed concierge services. In the post-pandemic era, progress is being made towards fewer staff interactions and more smartphone offerings. Once, airline security meant extensive processes at TSA, but consumers and professionals are quickly coming to rely on the powers of biotechnology, changing the way we think about control. Travelers and guests are still looking, in a sense, for the same things: quality of experience, efficient service and memorable stay. But they look for this service in different ways: on their phones, at their fingertips, and behind the scenes. For hospitality and travel professionals struggling for relevance in the post-COVID era, high-tech solutions are the first place to start.
Zain Jaffer is a technology entrepreneur and the founder / CEO of Zain Ventures, an investment firm with more than $ 100 million in assets under management.
This is a piece contributed to Hotel business, author of an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the underlined individual.