How Hotels are Going Contactless, Post-Pandemic

By Published On: April 29, 20214.8 min read

Hotels have seen a huge drop in guests since 2020 and, to assure safety, are implementing contactless check in, breakfast and check out. Marriott is first on it. Is this the death of the hotel lobby?

According to a recent report published by the Travel Technology Association, roughly 65% of travelers will need hospitality accommodations to use the latest technology to feel safe on a trip.

Among the top ways hotels are using contactless travel, Marriott Hotels are rolling out a contactless pilot program as part of their ‘Commitment to Clean’ initiative.

Be ready to download a ton of apps. App firms like GettinLocal are partnering with hotels that are using their cloud-based and geofence technologies to communicate with guests in the simplest ways possible. By scanning a QR code, guests can join a hotel’s loyalty program or make an appointment to visit a hotel’s spa or restaurant.

Stay at a Marriott hotel in the future, and you’ll likely have mobile check-in and check-out, mobile key and mobile dining. Mobile requests, including special requests for service and amenities through real-time messaging, can be accessed through the Marriott Bonvoy app.
Marriott did a social media analysis and found social media posts — including the phrase, “self-service” — increased by 170% year-over-year from 2019 to 2020.

In a statement, Marriott International President Stephanie Linnartz said, “The pandemic has accelerated the demand for contactless services, and we continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of our guests. The new offerings are an added benefit to the personalized hospitality we are known for, and we look forward to enhancing our customer experience by blending contactless services with dedicated in-person interactions.”

Among the Marriott hotels already on it are the Moxy NYC Times Square and the Courtyard New York in Midtown East, which have smart arrival kiosks allowing for contactless check in. Each iPad-like touch screen is powered by UV light aimed to kill bacteria on contact (meaning it isn’t entirely contactless, but close enough).

Mariott hotels contactless check in kiosks

Contactless check-in kiosks

For brunch, guests can take advantage of the Grab-and-Go kiosk, a wall of vending machines for hot and cold drinks, snacks and meals (one of the first was the Fairfield Inn & Suites Frederick in Maryland). At a breakfast vending machine, there’s yogurt, cereal and fresh fruit served daily, and guests can eat in the lobby, in their room or take it to go.

grab and go kiosk

Grab and Go Kiosks

There’s no doubt that technology will play a major role to revive the renaissance of the hospitality industry. The pandemic has clearly changed the preferences of travelers, shifting them towards a mobile-centric and automated experience. Many hotels are investing in machine learning and artificial intelligence unlike ever before, as many luxury hotels are redesigning their products for contactless travel.

Digital keys are about to become the norm in the hotel business. The new Novotel Convention & Spa Antananarivo Hotel in Madagascar is one example test driving the concept by using VingCard Essence door locks for contactless check in and out.

Design Hotels has partnered with StayNTouch, a cloud software company that manages the hotel’s project management system. Their guest kiosk allows guests to check in and out while skipping the lobby lineup. By incorporating a touch screen device, credit card reader and door key encoder, the process is meant to be flexible, intuitive and streamlined.

The breakfast buffet is being phased out at the Chablé Hotels in Mexico, too, with increased hygiene and sanitation measures throughout all their properties, promoting enhanced cleanliness with food preparation and personal safety. Their resorts can only cater to 150 people at maximum occupancy, and still allow for extra space for social distancing and takeaway options for guests wanting to dine in their room.

At the Trisara hotel in Phuket, Thailand, guests can order their breakfast with a QR code, which will then be prepared in the kitchen. No cash is accepted at the hotel, making all transactions contactless. Their outdoor restaurant tables are spaced out on the patio and are lit by UV lamps that emit ultraviolet-C radiation to disinfect, also known as “germicidal” lamps. The menus and wine lists are provided through a QR code, where guests can scan the code and receive the menu directly to their phone. Payment is fully contactless with their newly upgraded contactless card machines, too.

waiter serving a guest at the Trisara Hotel in Thailand

Outdoor dining at Trisara Hotel.

The Auberge Saint-Antoine in Quebec City has stepped up their cleaning, allowing each room to remain vacant for 48 hours before the next guest arrives, with an in-depth inspection. The hotel has also removed minibars in their hotel rooms and will deliver cocktails to hotel rooms. They have a new “Health Concierge” that meets incoming guests, explaining the new service rules, which include breakfast in bed.

champagne and strawberries on a table in a hotel room

The Auberge Saint-Antoine in Quebec City. Mini bars have been removed. Rather, drinks and refreshments are brought up to the guests.

Hotel buffets will be long gone, replaced with contactless experiences. The Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco on the French Riviera is serving a “floating breakfast” on a floating tray in the nearby lagoon, for guests who take a summer swim, among other heightened awareness of extra space for their guests for social distancing and personal safety.

“The change will be in inventing new services, helping them more than ever with the check in and check outs, travel flexibility and additional services,” said Frederic Darnet, the general manager of Monte-Carlo Bay. “We need to communicate with our clients more than ever to give them all the information they need, reassure them and help them change their mind.”

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