How can hotels adapt to a post-COVID world?

The entire world bore witness to the way the COVID-19 pandemic bulldozed through not just the daily life of individuals and small businesses but also entire industries of which some started to slowly fall apart while others began to truly thrive. The hospitality industry is one that was completely changed during the pandemic, at first left devastated but now slowly getting back on its feet, and on the other hand, the technology industry has not stopped growing and achieving success since the virus hit the whole world in 2020. How does one help the other? Well, similarly to daily challenges that turn into opportunities for technological development, when the hospitality industry turns to technology, it can manage to adapt its services to the post-pandemic needs of its guests.

Key Highlights

  • Introducing technological solutions will fill the gap in genuine interaction between staff and customers that exists when there is a lack of employees needed to assist guests before, during and after their stay.
  • Implementing technological solutions can limit or even completely eliminate the need for guests to interact with hotel staff if that is something they would like to avoid as well as external surfaces on the hotel premises, ensuring guest safety.
  • Since remote work and the hybrid style of work is here to stay for many and hotels combine the comforts of working from home with the perks of going out to work, catering to remote workers will be beneficial for hotels.  
  • Instead of travelling abroad, many people are choosing to visit domestic destinations for their holidays, and hotels need to cater to them as well. 
  • Without smart parking lots, hotels are risking that their guests will begin their stay with a negative experience and a bad mood, which will then carry on to how they feel later on during their stay.
  • Hotels are situated in the types of destinations chosen for workcations, and they offer access to reliable internet and comfortable spaces to work and sleep, which makes them ideal places to stay. 
  • When a hotel digitalises its parking lot, it can share the parking spaces with regular city drivers who are looking for a place to park, giving drivers access to a mobile application using which they can access and pay for parking and hotels a simple tool to manage the parking lot. 
  • One unique way to attract people to a hotel and ensure increased exposure which then turns into increased revenue is to offer up EV charger services that are paired with a mobile application.

Lack of employees

When international travel ceased in 2020 and hotels were forced to close, hotel employees lost their jobs as the hospitality industry lost all access to revenue. Once restrictions were slowly lifted and hotels began to open their doors, a lack of employees quickly became apparent. This past tourist season saw a significant increase in hotel guests, and hotels struggled with being understaffed. The speed with which the hospitality industry began to boom once again did not help the case. Hotel employees who were let go at the beginning of the pandemic had found employment in other industries, and designating the time and efforts necessary to hire and train brand new employees proved to be a problem. 

Introducing technological solutions will fill the gap in genuine interaction between staff and customers that exists when there is a lack of employees needed to assist guests before, during and after their stay. These conversations and the ability to make a hotel guest feel comfortable and anticipate their needs is necessary for a good customer experience but this can be a challenge when queues are long due to understaffing. 

Before a guest’s stay, their room reservation and payment can be completed fully online on a booking site or directly on the hotel’s website in order to avoid active interaction with an employee, saving the hotel’s resources and giving the guest more flexibility as well as increasing accessibility when booking. Plus, adding a hotel to a popular booking site will increase the visibility of the hotel, resulting in more guests and therefore, revenue. 

When technological solutions are deployed at reception, the guests can check in and out digitally which will not only decrease the understaffing problem but also eliminate queues, improving the customer experience. With the traditional check in and check out, oftentimes there is a need for two or three receptionists to be working, especially during peak hours, which often still results in long queues, but when digital checking in and out is enabled, there is only a need for one employee to handle the reception area to welcome guests to the hotel and in case questions arise. 

The same goes for hotel parking lots. Deploying smart parking solutions enable guests to enter and exit the hotel parking lot by using their phones. Our NaviPay mobile application enables hotel guests to open the parking barrier by swiping a button in the app and offers straightforward navigation to a parking space. Thanks to this, no parking staff is needed. Technological solutions even eliminate the need for parking staff to be onsite at all times. Our web portal, offered right alongside NaviPay, makes it possible for parking administrators to manage and monitor the parking lot remotely and oversee all activity from anywhere just by going on the web. 

Keeping guests safe

The COVID-19 pandemic altered the way people perceive accessing public spaces, including hotels where extra precautions are particularly needed as guests stay overnight in the same rooms and use frequently popular areas such as the elevator, reception, restaurant and parking lot. 

While providing guests with rooms and public spaces that are carefully and frequently cleaned and sanitised is key to ensuring their safety, so is implementing technological solutions that limit or even completely eliminate the need for guests to interact with hotel staff if that is something they would like to avoid as well as external surfaces on the hotel premises. All the above-mentioned solutions such as online room booking, digital check in and out at the reception and accessing parking facilities with the sole use of a smartphone do just that. 

For example, by digitalising a parking lot, the hotel guest will not need to even get out of their vehicle to enter the parking lot. Using a mobile application, they will find an available parking space, open the parking barrier, be provided with navigation to their space. Exiting the parking lot can be done completely with the application as well. Therefore, there is no need for a guest to interact with the staff, open the car windows and press buttons to open the barrier or use ticket machines that have been used by a multitude of people before them. 

Although the pandemic is slowly coming to an end and things are beginning to get back to how they were, the anxiety caused by the pandemic will stay with many. In order to ease the worries of their guests, hotels should continue taking safety precautions in the efforts of bringing maximum comfort to their guests even after the pandemic is long behind us. This is the new normal brought around by the pandemic. 

Remote work

One of the biggest changes brought about by the pandemic is the surge of remote work happening worldwide. After being forced to work from home as offices shut down in 2020, people got used to the convenience of working from home and even now as offices have reopened, many prefer remote work or at least a hybrid style of working with the option to choose when to work from the office and when to work from home. Companies are adjusting their offices to fit this new style of working, and there are more and more opportunities for remote work available around the world. 

Even with the preference of many to work remotely, there often exists a need to change the environment in which one works, at least once in a while. After all, working and living in the same space, especially when small, can be tiresome and may cause difficulties focusing on work. That is why many take their laptops and work in coffee shops, restaurants and open-work spaces to carry out their tasks and then get back home when the workday is over. 

Another option for an altered environment is a hotel. Hotels combine the comforts of working from home with the perks of going out to work. While coffee shops, restaurants and open workspaces are filled with people, a hotel room can serve as a private office when one can focus fully on their task without the distractions of other people around them. However, a hotel still offers attractive interiors, a restaurant and a stable internet connection necessary to comfortably work. When hotels provide the perfect environment for remote work, they can attract guests who are eager to use their hotel space. 

One important thing for hotels to remember when catering to remote workers in their cities is that many travel by car. Providing guests with uncomplicated parking options that take the stress away from parking in the city will bring an increased level of convenience that will make guests want to keep coming back to the hotel. Offering parking solutions that are based on the use of a mobile application make parking entry and exit quick and easy. Additionally, smart parking solutions will make working from a hotel even more appealing than in coffee shops, restaurants and open workspaces as those places often don’t offer parking spaces to their customers, especially those in popular city areas. 

The rise of domestic travel

Travel has become complicated due to the pandemic, particularly international travel. With endless queues at airports due to extra security, expensive COVID-19 tests necessary before departure and the uncertainty of whether new restrictions will be put in place during the stay abroad, international travel, although longed for, has become quite a difficult endeavour. 

However, the need for travel has not disappeared but rather increased after months and months of lockdowns and rigorous restrictions. This past tourist season many people got their chance to get away, and so they did. They packed their bags and alongside their families, friends or as solo travellers left their homes to go on holiday, but a lot of them didn’t go far. Instead of travelling abroad, many people are choosing to visit holiday destinations in their own countries. 

Catering to guests from their own country will be incredibly beneficial for hotels and increase the revenue that they’ve been missing during the pandemic. Part of catering to this type of a guest is offering them a safe and convenient place to store their car as a lot of guests who aren’t going abroad will choose to travel by car instead of taking public transport such as trains. Travelling in a personal vehicle compared to travelling on a train is much more comfortable and offers more flexibility to the journey as well as more space to store luggage and personal belongings. This comfort can continue up until the end of the journey thanks to a hotel with a digital parking lot. Seamless and quick entry to the parking lot along with the guarantee of available parking and navigation to a parking space will ensure the guest’s experience at the hotel begins on a high note. 

Without smart parking lots, hotels are risking that their guests will begin their stay with a negative experience and a bad mood, which will then carry on to how they feel later on during their stay. To learn about the inconvenience brought by staying at hotels with traditional parking lots, read about our CMO Karolina’s negative experience with it here: https://blog.naviparking.com/2021/10/07/parking-pains-in-the-big-city-a-true-story/

Workcations

Workcations, sometimes called staycations, are exactly what they sound like. That is extended vacations during which regular work is carried out and completed. They combine two trends brought around by the pandemic: remote work and domestic travel. Although workcations existed prior to the pandemic, it was really during this time that they became a global trend. 

Despite the benefits of working remotely, working from home can get tiresome after some time. Since remote work can be done from anywhere in the world as long as there is a good internet connection, packing up a laptop and going to some beautiful place is a great opportunity that has come around during these times. Working from a beach, a house with a view of mountains or a little cottage in the middle of nowhere can seem like a dream, but a lot of people are making this dream a reality. Weekdays are spent in front of a laptop until 5 pm, but evenings and weekends are there to enjoy the vacation part of the stay. Workcations offer the escape without the necessity of taking time off. 

One of the best things about workcations is that they can last for as long as one wants them to. Some people are choosing to be on a workcation for multiple months, and this offers a great opportunity for hotels. Hotels are situated in the types of destinations chosen for workcations, and they offer access to reliable internet and comfortable spaces to work and sleep. And since many workcations are domestic trips, access to a smart, simple and stress-free parking experience is necessary to ensure comfort to guests. 

Unused parking spaces

Although hotels are getting their guests back now during tourist season, due to current hotel restrictions which might increase during winter months, hotel parking lots can be found to be partially empty. Many hotels don’t know what to do with these empty spaces that can go unused for months

Well, what if we told you there is a simple and convenient way to monetise those unused parking spaces and increase overall hotel revenue? This is possible with smart parking solutions which increase the luxury of a hotel parking lot and are affordable for the hotel itself. 

When a hotel digitalises its parking lot, it can share the parking spaces with regular city drivers who are looking for a place to park, something many drivers struggle with which makes them eager to use parking lots in convenient locations, especially ones that offer a safe and seamless parking experience. The best thing about monetising a parking lot is that city drivers can access it and pay for their stay entirely in a mobile application, making it simple for them and for the parking lot staff as they don’t need to take care of the drivers and manually operate the parking lot entry/exit but can instead remotely monitor the entire parking lot through the web as part of the parking digitalisation packet. Another great thing about smart parking solutions is that they are flexible to the needs of the hotel. The hotel can share as many parking spaces as they would like and can change that number depending on increasing or decreasing demand. 

To learn more about parking lot monetisation visit https://naviparking.com/services/shared-parking 

EV chargers

Something that hotels often don’t realise is that there is a growing need for EV chargers, particularly in cities that are pioneers in the smart city sector such as Dubai where more and more electric vehicles can be seen being driven on the roads. 

One unique way to attract people to a hotel and ensure increased exposure which then turns into increased revenue is to offer up EV charger services that are paired with a mobile application. This will put a hotel parking lot on the map of places to visit for drivers of electric vehicles and when accessing and paying for the charger will be simple and convenient, turning them into frequent users. This will also turn the hotel into a leader in smart mobility services and make it stand out from its competitors. 

To turn its parking lot into a smart hub, a hotel can digitalise the entire parking facility, including non-parking services offered such as EV chargers. By offering parking lot users the ability to download an app that is paired with their parking lot and use that app for all services, not just parking their vehicle but also locating EV charging stations and paying for this in the app as well using the same account they pay for parking, the hotel will offer the customer an incredible level of convenience and simplicity that the customer will come to associate with the hotel. 

 

As can be seen, digitalisation is the key to success in the post-covid world. There are many tools available for hotels that are accessible and improve the customer experience simultaneously making hotel management easier. By implementing digital tools at a hotel, processes such as checking in and out and parking entry/exit will be simplified and quicker, increasing the comfort of the guest as well as of the hotel staff, who will have increased efficiency in their tasks and carry out their responsibilities in a calmer environment which will allow them to focus on the guests and their interactions with them. 

Despite all the benefits of digitalisation, the implementation of these solutions is quite simple, affordable and flexible to the needs of a particular hotel. To learn more about digitalisation we offer visit: https://naviparking.com/services/digital-parking 

Klaudia Żychowska

Klaudia Żychowska is a Polish native who grew up in Chicago. After completing a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a double concentration in Creative Writing and Professional Writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she decided to move back to Poland to reconnect with her roots. She is fascinated by smart cities and innovative technologies and is responsible for content strategy at NaviParking.

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