With the lodging industry facing increasing competition, a rapid pace of technological change, and externalities beyond our control, such as the COVID-19 crisis, operators may overlook essential capabilities in their point of sale (POS) system, that allows them to understand their business better and maintain revenue. Here are some guiding principles for mitigating disruptions without compromising your guest experience and positioning for the future.
Plan for Success with Flexible Hospitality Technology
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on hospitality has shown the need for organizations to have an agile platform to support timely shifts in operations. Room service, take-out or delivery, staycation, and long-term stay offerings, contactless dining, and expanded loyalty programs are rapidly being added or enhanced in almost every segment of the industry. Ensuring your customers can engage via these channels requires the capability to be present in your hotel point of sale software and property management systems.
A flexible hotel POS system provides a platform for developing new technologies and service capabilities, easy restructuring of priorities and workflows, inventory and forecasting controls, supports various revenue centers core to the business, and does so without significant additional effort or cost.
Proprietors should look to work with vendors who:
- possess a proven hospitality platform that is flexible and scalable for hotel environments
- value relationships and challenge the status quo
- maintain an established network of partners in the hospitality space
- offer technical integration capabilities with online ordering, loyalty programs, legacy and innovative payment methods, and guest behavior insights
Most of the technical capabilities and integrations mentioned above are especially relevant in responding to the new market realities during and post COVID-19.
The right hotel POS will also effectively manage scale in future operations, thus facilitating longer-term requirements of the organization, while balancing the need to act quickly to unforeseen changes in operations.
Remember the Guest Experience Promise
While the short-term response to the COVID-19 disruption focusses on ensuring the business can operate and maintain revenue, it is crucial to prioritize your guests—and consider how offering new services or delivering existing products differently may impact their expectations and experience, as well as your brand.
For hotels looking to stay competitive during the COVID crisis, it may make sense to change products and services altogether rather than compromise the brand promise. The following are a few ways by which hotels can do so in a creative way:
- Swap standard room service dining options and shift to daily features, with the added option for guests to place meal orders in advance
- offer pre-mixed cocktails and bar bites
- expand in-room entertainment options, to include a variety of streaming services, educational and fitness content. This could be coupled with special snack boxes or movie-night menus
- provide transparent communications on your hotel’s food-service cleanliness protocol
Tailoring menus, entertainment and leisure options, and room service offerings with a focus on minimizing contact and prioritizing health and safety will ensure that even in a different model, guests are receiving the quality of product and service they’ve come to expect.
Lastly, keep in mind the lessons learned from disruptions when planning for the future. For instance, in the aftermath of COVID-19, there will be a shift in consumer behavior and expectations with many guests potentially preferring contactless ordering (digital menus, contactless room phones and billfolds, single-use napkins, and packaged utensils, for example).
The payment landscape was changing rapidly even before the COVID-19 outbreak and is accelerating now. Guest preference has been shifting to new contactless payment methods such as Mobile or NFC for some time. With online ordering being a significant source of revenue, online payment is an obvious model. Some guests, however, will still need to pay at the point of pickup, and in those cases having the capability to accept payment in the most secure and sanitary fashion is required. Tap to pay mobile devices and support for NFC payment are quickly becoming mandatory as the older swipe and sign payment process is not well suited to off-premise service.
Ensuring those capabilities are in place and well understood by the business can be done now with an eye to what that means for service in the future.
It’s an unprecedented time for this imperative industry, and most organizations are looking for ways to meet the challenges in both the short and the long term. Having a strong technology ecosystem, with your hotel POS at the center, the approach outlined here will hopefully assist in discovering where opportunities are also to be found.
Our experienced hospitality consultants have helped numerous hotels, and others in the hospitality industry navigate operational challenges and find custom solutions. Find out how they might be able to support your business today.