The hospitality industry will be challenged to reinvent itself as we emerge from the global health crisis.
No one could have foreseen at the beginning of 2020 that this year we would experience one of the most serious global health crises of all time. The pandemic has spread around the world, bringing business and industry to an unprecedented halt.
Among the industries most affected is hospitality. With planes grounded and hotels and restaurants closed around the world, the pillars of the hospitality business have been shattered as the industry is challenged with an unfathomable climb back to ‘normal’.
However, even in this time of adversity the hospitality sector has proven to be dynamic and adaptable. Many hoteliers have done an enormous amount of work to secure the trust of communities during the worst of the health crisis by opening their premises as alternative residences for people directly affected by the pandemic. Some hotels have been re-aligned to provide medical services for elderly people and for patients with less severe symptoms, while other facilities have accommodated government security personnel and healthcare workers, as well as homeless people.
Even as the pandemic eases some of its effects will inevitably remain with us. The very nature of the health crisis has imposed strict hygiene and social distancing rules which will remain, even as they contradict our traditional concept of travelling, staying in hotels, dining in restaurants and attending events and crowded places. The adaptability of the hospitality industry will be put to the test as we emerge into a new post-pandemic world.
Normal in a post-pandemic world
What seems certain is that when the containment measures are lifted people will want to get back to their lives, and return to their business and leisure activities. The challenge for the hospitality industry will be to enforce high standards of hygiene and social distancing, and do it without sacrificing a comfortable and personalized customer experience.
One of the keys to achieving this renewed customer experience is technology to enable security, mobility and self-service solutions. Technology vendors stand ready to help the hospitality industry face the new world reality.
If we think specifically about hotels we need to consider how hotels will provide a superior guest experience and at the same time limit face-to-face interactions with the hotel staff. We also need to address how they will guarantee social distancing and adhere to health regulations without interfering with the comfort of their guests.
Back in 2019 we identified smart hospitality as a major industry trend. In 2020, with this unexpected crisis, this trend is more relevant than ever. Based on this new reality, hotels will need to be more contactless, more mobile and smarter, as guests and staff rely on devices and applications for everyday actions and operations. In short, the health crisis has not created a new trend; rather, it has accelerated the adoption of an existing one.
An intelligent network is the main component that brings everything together, providing seamless and secure connectivity between guests, staff, devices and applications. At Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, we see three main elements where the network plays an essential role as the underlying technology in the smooth implementation of new hospitality standards and requirements.
1. Improving security to create a safe environment. New complex security systems, devices and applications will need to be deployed and managed. The network must provide the automation, security and networking standards necessary to connect new devices and support services, and prevent cybersecurity breaches, with the best performance and minimum effort.
2. Redesigning the guest journey. The well-known “before, during and after the stay” paradigm will require more thought. Technology will replace much of the face-to-face contact between guests and staff. To ensure guest satisfaction and comfort, as well as a superior quality of experience, the network must provide pervasive and high-speed connectivity for smooth integration with guest services and devices.
3. Mobilizing back-of-the-house (BOH) operations. While teleworking has been widely adopted to ensure business continuity during the health care crisis, even in the most reluctant industries, it is unfortunately not a real option for the hospitality industry. However, consider the concept of ‘remote work’ based on mobility and the cloud. BOH mobile applications can be a solution to minimize face-to-face interactions within staff, and between staff and guests. Hotel operations can rely more on cloud-based management solutions, which can be accessed anytime and anywhere, require no on-site hardware and maintenance, and are based on flexible Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription models. The network must be ready to provide high levels of mobility, quality of service and security for the hotel operations to run smoothly and seamlessly around the clock.
The solution to these three challenges is Alcatel-Lucent Digital Age Networking. Stay tuned for the next blog in this series where we will explore each of these challenges in greater depth.
Recommended read: Technology Is Vital To The Hospitality Industry Revival, by Xavier Mongin, Global Director, Hospitality at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise