Looking back on how the past year has affected hospitality technology, many industry leaders have reached one of two conclusions: either the pandemic completely changed the trajectory or future of hospitality tech, or it simply accelerated the innovation and adoption that we were already expecting. To be honest, it’s a little of both.
Some technologies, particularly mobile technology such as mobile check-in and mobile key, had already been developed but had not yet been widely adopted by hoteliers, making them ideal candidates for an explosive year in 2020. And, over the year, those of us developing the technology simply prioritized the updates we already had planned, removing friction and providing convenient contactless experiences. After all, mobile was always going to be the standard—it just took a year to become the standard, not five.
However, the trajectory of hospitality technology has shifted significantly in other areas, evolving slowly but steadily over the last year to create a second wave of pandemic innovation poised to transform hospitality. Dining is the place where this will have the most of an impact. A new world of opportunities is now available for hoteliers to transform F&B from a loss leader to a reliable revenue stream. Here’s how to do it:
Contactless Ordering and Deliveries
During the pandemic, the use of delivery apps in the United States more than doubled. Consumers enthusiastically embraced mobile ordering and contactless deliveries, and as they return to travel, they expect a similar experience from hotels.
Regardless of their vaccination status or safety concerns, there is a new standard of ordering convenience that guests expect hoteliers to meet. Hotel technology has progressed to provide a seamless mobile ordering process that mimics the ordering process of delivery apps, eliminating the need for any face-to-face interaction.
For example, KFC used Facebook to drive customer safety and contactless delivery messages. With the outbreak of COVID-19, KFC realized it had to act quickly to reassure employees and customers of their safety. It introduced a new contactless delivery service to cater to emerging social distancing practices and to ensure consumers felt at ease when ordering in.
Taking mobile payments is the most important aspect of mobile and contactless ordering. In 2019, mobile payments had only just begun to gain power in the United States. Last year, 92.3 million U.S. customers used mobile payments, and experts predict that number will grow by at least another 10 million this year. Before the pandemic, hotel technology provided a mobile ordering process but no way for customers to avoid a payment exchange.
Now, hotel technology has finally evolved to provide options for hoteliers to add charges to a guest’s folio during mobile ordering, and will soon add fully mobile payments for the frictionless mobile experience that guests crave. According to e-marketer, nearly 40% of fast food or fast-casual meal purchases were made using an app or digital wallet. These types of contactless payments are becoming more popular in the periods of COVID-19, as customer awareness of safety precautions grows.
Pick-Up and Takeout Options
The next stage in the evolution of hotel F&B will be to provide more and more of the convenience of a traditional restaurant. This includes expanding your offerings beyond your guests to attract consistent, repeat business from locals in your area. Pick-up and takeout options that allow anyone to place an order through your property’s app can provide you with a whole new business and extra revenue you wouldn’t have otherwise.
This also resulted in the emergence of cloud kitchens, which can scale up – and down – as needed, but with a technology-based operating model. The $35 billion food delivery economy is expected to rise tenfold by 2030, reaching $365 billion.
F&B has been in the periphery for hoteliers but cheers to new technology, it’s finding the spotlight and becoming a focal point—especially as travel returns in the wake of widespread vaccine availability in many countries. This summer, increase your property’s revenue perspective by offering guests the dining experiences and mobile convenience they’ve come to expect during the pandemic.
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