UK: Research from Guestline shows that digital marketing strategies alongside contactless and online solutions are among the top priorities for hoteliers across the Guestline customer base in the UK and Ireland.
Of those hoteliers surveyed, 27 per cent stated that digital marketing (including enhancing the hotel’s website and social media presence) is among the top priorities for the year ahead. 20 per cent stated it was overseeing and managing a contact-free guest experience (including guest communication, upsetting, feedback and check in/out).
Looking at ways in which technology has been adopted, 20 per cent agreed that contactless payments saw the biggest investment throughout 2020, followed by contactless check in/out and cloud-based PMS (both 18 per cent).
Over one third said they plan to invest in contactless payments in 2021, whilst 18 per cent are planning to invest further in online check in/out software.
In terms of guest adoption of technology, free WiFi and TV streaming services in-room ranked as the most popular at 40 per cent.
Nearly 42 per cent said that they expected an equal balance between technology and face-to-face interaction, whilst 38 per cent expected a greater shift towards the use of contactless and low-touch technology.
Andrew Metcalfe, chief technical officer at Guestline, said: “The last 12 months have necessitated the need for smarter and safer guest experiences. One of the lasting legacies of the pandemic will no doubt be the development of new technologies and platforms to achieve this, which are set to pave the way for recovery as hoteliers finally prepare to re-open and welcome guests back.”
Guestline has since announced an upgrade to its online check in solution GuestStay. From 17 May, GuestStay will include check out and payments, where guests can review their itemised balance for room service, drinks and spa treatments, with the option to pay their bill ahead of departure.
Other features include car registration, passport number, estimated time of arrival, and any particular preferences.
Metcalfe added: “Certainly the contactless experience, whether that be check in, check out or payments has been one of the defining developments of the past year. It is encouraging to see that both hoteliers and their guests recognise the benefits that this technology offers and have been keen to adopt it. Likewise, delivering a positive guest experience is at the heart of any decision for a hotelier in terms of operations, service and functions. Contactless software has been, and will continue to be, critical to achieving that as we now look forward.
“Ensuring we are delivering both a positive guest and hotelier experience was critical in the thinking and development of GuestStay. Guests can benefit from more time devoted to enjoying their stay rather than its administration, whilst hoteliers can enjoy the benefit of more time to devote to guests, the guest experience and building revenues – all important factors for what we sincerely hope are brighter days ahead.”
The other main areas that hoteliers confirmed in the survey they would be focusing their budget on in 2021 is refurbishments and upgrades of leisure facilities, rooms and F&B areas (36 per cent) and property maintenance (26 per cent).
Taking a retrospective view, hoteliers were also asked what data they wished had been available during the pandemic. Cancellation data (18 per cent), competitor data (13 per cent) and business performance data (13 per cent) ranked the top three areas.
Guestline provides property management, guest engagement and distribution software to the hospitality industry. It serves independent hotels and hotel groups across 25 countries in five continents.