Is it crucial for a hotel and/or hospitality company to be online? Will the communication change its rules after COVID-19?
Absolutely. Transparency has become essential, especially in the difficult times we are now experiencing. Candor about the situation, challenges and potential solutions provides more value than spreading falsehoods and unrealistic expectations. To best inform our community, Hotels and Hospitality not only have to be online, but they need to be online with Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and live-streaming.
Although communication has certainly shifted in response to COVID-19, my mission remains the same: to serve and help people. Through my research and in typical Les Roches style, I investigate and work on how cutting-edge tech and digital trends can help us improving our problems, implementing best practices and guide Hospitality emerge in pragmatical ways from this crisis. It’s essential that we come together as a community and continue to help and support each other and our guests. This is the real spirit here at Les Roches and always has been.
People training in the COVID-19 era. How will relations between staff and guests change?
People must be willing to be honest, to be blunt, and to explain succinctly how they will insure the safety of their staff members and guests. By staying informed and upholding the highest safety standards, Hospitality professionals can also better address future concerns that will certainly be dynamic in nature. For this reason, Hospitality teams will now need to be trained to utilize robotics and additional digital support such as using remote and conferencing technology –think Zoom– to stay up-to-date with each other and guests.
Of course we will strive to strengthen the relationship between staff and guests, but in a pandemic situation, Hospitality must explore new ways to improve these connections without common physical contact. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and live-streaming provide viable and effective options for establishing and continuing contact, even remotely.
In the near future we will also see an uptick in the use of digital technology to help the service process. For this reason, staff training will also include new skills such as the operating, programming and leveraging robotics and digital tools. Robotics and other tech innovations promote higher health standards and therefore will become intrinsically important during outbreaks or pandemic situations.
Hospitality will use robots to streamline our industry, to serve guests without risk and to help us better adapt in crisis situations. Robots such as MIT’s Planning with Uncertain Specifications (PUnS) system robots, have the capability to learn complex tasks on the job and likely do not pass on contagions. Paying attention and planning how to use these new types of technology has become essential for staff and guest safety. For this reason, hotel staff will also need to be trained to administer, delegate and supervise robots and other new types of technology with the common goal of improving the guest experience. Although there will be many changes, I am confident that these improvements will help our Industry to emerge stronger from this crisis.
Artificial intelligence, technologies and hotels. What will be the changes? How will the technology impact the hospitality industry?
Despite the gravity of our current situation, I believe that there are exciting changes in store for the Industry that will uplift the Hospitality as a whole. Current technology trends focus on the senses, especially using Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and olfactory devices to enhance the overall customer experience — no matter where they are. Through VR and AR tech guests can spirit themselves away and take virtual voyages at anytime and anywhere.
Without a doubt, technology enhances the customer journey. Guests can experience the latest exhibits, art installations and performances without waiting in lines. As an example, celebrated artist Kari Kola recently transformed a segment of the Irish Connemara mountain range into the breathtaking artwork “Savage Beauty.” Despite the quarantine, global viewers actively participated, sharing photos of the ethereal light installation via their social media networks. It’s easy for guests to upload apps such as Acute Art and enjoy “EXPANDED HOLIDAY, ” a virtual art installation from artist Brian Donnelly, a.k.a. KAWS. Virtual edutainment such as MasterClass and Instagram live-streaming were gaining popularity even before the pandemic and should be considered as realizable opportunities for Hospitality to connect with guests.
In addition, Hospitality can engage and entertain the entire family by utilizing enabling technology such as NASA’s NeMO-Net to chart coral reefs or ride rollercoasters in Canada’s Wonderland amusement park. Hotels can contact future guests remotely by sharing virtual safaris and stargazing through live-steaming cameras such as Explore LiveCams as a prelude to a real experience. The goal could be that guests observe Aurora Borealis virtually and then book with The North Pole Igloos.
During another quarantine or outbreak, VR and VA tech can enable hotels to offer virtual stay-cations which whet customer interest to book actual vacations. Booking virtual trips can become a reality where rather than getting an actual hotel room, customers would get a VR headset that is “pre-programmed with personalized experiences with real-time updating capabilities. VR and AR links could be sent to guests who need to reschedule their vacations due to an outbreak to show support and establish an ongoing relationship. With a VR Oculus Quest headset and apps, users can have immediate access to gyms with expert coaching from real-world trainers playing popular music within beautiful photorealistic landscapes whenever and wherever they wish.
Furthermore, as research shows that olfactory sensations contribute to the majority of sensory input relating to customer’s experience and enjoyment of eating and drinking, I’ve also been examining how streamlined tech such as the LEVO Oil Infuser can further enhance the kitchen and hotel experience. One thing is for sure: it’s clear that all of this new technology helps solve common problems in our Industry today and will continue to provide solutions in our Industry tomorrow. We are only limited by our ingenuity and creativity; in Hospitality, both abound.
Ecology, reduction of energy consumption, environmental impact of the hotel business. What to do?
Sustainability has always been a key issue and will remain central as we move forward. What will change is now can make impactful decisions as an Industry by utilizing new participative technologies and innovations to directly impact the way customers act. Whether it’s employing the AI and IoT-enabled interactive receptacle TetraBIN to encourage positive behavior toward recycling and proper waste disposal, or utilizing the Arebo One- Touch Body Dryer to decrease wasteful towel usage at pools, spas, and gyms, ecological conservation proves vital to our Industry’s success. In this way Hospitality can show eco-leadership by taking calculated risks and adapting innovative tech solutions to promote sustainability and environmental awareness.