The hotel industry has been one of the hardest hit business sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a study by the U.S. Travel association, 40% of the 16.9 million jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry have been lost so far, and many businesses must wait until guests feel comfortable enough to hit the roads again.
In response to the new reality, hotel staff must implement updated sanitization and cleaning procedures to help their guests feel confident enough to return. Here are 10 COVID tech solutions intended to ease these changes and produce an adaptable environment for guests, new and old.
1. Digital concierge bots
“Touchless tech” is becoming a common phrase in the hospitality industry, as hotels improve comfort for their guests. One important issue is limiting touchpoints throughout the property in order to reduce possible germ contact.
At digital concierge stations, guests can check in, ask questions and request services that would usually be provided at a front desk. Powered by artificial intelligence to understand the guest experience, these systems do not require downloading an app but can be integrated into your phone’s settings.
2. Cleaning tracker techniques
Keeping track of completed cleaning tasks provides guests with proof of a hotel’s cleaning solutions and updated practices, to ensure health and safety throughout the pandemic.
Systems such as CleanTracker technology give guests a digital record of every cleaning task completed by hotel staff, from sanitization of touchpoints to cleanup of germs and protection against further contamination. The system also organizes a list of tasks for housekeepers or cleaning crews to accomplish, and will not let them continue without completing each item.
In an interview with Medical Daily, Einar Rosenberg, CIO of CleanTracker’s company Creating Revolutions, emphasized that fear is a main factor barring consumers from travelling again. Not only are systems such as these needed to put fears to rest, but they can also help hotels get back on their feet.
3. Hospital-grade air purifiers
FDA-approved air purifiers can quickly and efficiently destroy airborne pathogens and viruses, such as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Air purifiers maintain clean air throughout hotel or resort rooms, removing many pollutants that would have been breathed in by guests and staff.
The devices can destroy and reduce viruses and protect against bacteria. They don’t produce ozone or disturb airflow, as they maintain a healthy environment for guests and employees.
4. Self-cleaning materials
To create a new kind of clean, stick-on skins (a peel-and-stick surface) and mats were developed with special cleaning properties. The self-sanitizing system for high touchpoints such as handles, tables and other surfaces works 24/7 for up to three months.
In an interview with Medical Daily, Dennis Hackemeyer, co-founder of NanoTouch Materials, said his company’s product, NanoSeptic Self-Cleaning Surfaces, was invented to provide a visible, self-cleaning product that works for any surface.
The self-cleaning services are powered by light and therefore produce a greener clean. No toxins or chemicals are released into the air, because the nano-crystals that make up the system are bonded to the material. The services have been implemented in almost all well-known hotel chains across the U.S.
4. Robot cleaners
The use of robots in hotels is another interesting way of using artificial intelligence for daily tasks. These robots provide amenities, sanitization and updated COVID cleaning services. Not only can the robots sanitize surfaces and spaces, they can also fill guest requests, such as delivering bottled water and towels, all by using voice commands or touch-screen orders.
5. Personal system for hotel contact
Many hotels have encouraged the use of systems that can be downloaded to personal devices. These allow guests to use the messaging system of their choice (WhatsApp, SMS texts, Facebook messaging) to contact the hotel staff.
Eliminating any need for face-to-face contact, the system allows guests to stay where they feel comfortable but still have access to any help or services they need, including direct messaging requests to hotel executives.
6. Virtual reservations system
Hand-in-hand with COVID alterations, contactless virtual systems can also provide booking strategies when it comes to making reservations.
Reservations can be made for tables at on-site restaurants or bookings in the hotel itself. The management system allows for less crowded lobbies, improved social distancing policies, and ordering from tables or personal rooms using personal devices.
8. Preventative maintenance checklists
In order to effectively implement new health initiatives for COVID, systems that help hotel staff organize and assign daily tasks are helpful. Online checklists allow hotels to do just that, while receiving requests from guests without face-to-face communication.
The ALICE software program is being used in 2,500 hotels around the globe, according to marketing manager Merril Guzman. The program helps both front and back of the house operations stay organized and productive.
The technology can track and maintain tasks in their system, has mobile access and can assign tasks to individuals within the virtual system.
9. Mobile key system
Online key systems allow guests to access their rooms using their own mobile devices. Besides personalizing information, keyless rooms reduce contamination and touchpoints that normal key systems would have.
Locks can also be updated without having to be changed. Guests can have as many keys as desired, and they receive information from the hotel on their mobile device.
10. Resource guide for COVID practices
According to a news release from Revinate, which provides online reputation management for hotels, 70% of hotel executives are looking for a centralized location for COVID resources. Executives need a place to understand market conditions and strategies so they can get back on their feet, often with limited information. Revinate can provide one central location for coronavirus updates, best practices for guest and staff communication, coronavirus guest surveys, news from across the hospitality industry, and opportunities for networking.
Lara Becker is a Medical Daily intern and a senior at The College of New Jersey studying Journalism/ Professional Writing and Communication Studies.