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Guest-Facing Technology: Visioning a Post-Covid Era

Thursday 08 October 2020


Access Control Technology Will Help Open the Doors

HospitalityNet asked 10 leading guest-facing tech providers to share their views and thoughts on how guest-facing tech will change in the post-COVID era.

SALTO NA Director of Marketing Steve Burk is featured in this segment.

It goes without saying but bears repeating, things will never be the same again. We've been through a lot this year, now the world is slowly emerging from the pandemic and the global crisis it precipitated. As restrictions ease, hospitality industry leaders are faced with the unprecedented challenge of deciding how to resume operations and how they create new levels of health, safety, and hygiene within their properties.

As the industry welcomes travelers back, I believe the entire guest experience must be reimagined and reengineered to emphasize and safeguard the health and safety of guests. The way we, as an industry, choose to reopen will not only physically reshape our properties and transform the guest experience, but will redefine the future of travel itself.

Among the biggest challenges to overcome now is the guests' reluctance to travel as a direct result of the perceived health risks. While travel and tourism have always involved some amount of risk, virus exposure and general health risk are the main concerns most business travelers and tourists alike have when considering travel today.

Hospitality industry technologies were already transforming hotel and resort operations before the pandemic but are now becoming critical components to the industry's recovery. Many of these technology upgrades and enhancements were previously slow to be adopted and considered as "nice to haves". What has changed in the era of COVID-19 is that there is now an extreme sense of urgency devoted to on-boarding new solutions that enhance safety through technology. Today, these solutions may hold the key to safely reopening and easing guests' concerns about exposure when visiting a hotel, 

resort or other destination property.

Automated Self Check-in

Likely the leading example of a process that was already undergoing transformation and will now be widely adopted across the industry is self-service check-in. Prior to the pandemic, some hotels had already begun to implement mobile solutions to enable remote check-ins, now it's time for the rest of the industry to follow. Contactless mobile self-service check-in options were already a desire of many savvy travelers and will now become the expectation of most guests. This will be one of the most visible and obvious signs to arriving guests that a property, or chain, is evolving in order to protect their health and well-being.

SALTO has created an extensive technology ecosystem with partners like Roomatik, Hotel Bird, Myra, Nonius, Ariane, and StayNtouch all offering remote check-in solutions that are fully compatible and integrated with SALTO's hospitality platform, ProAccess SPACE management software. The SALTO platform can be easily connected to almost all existing PMSs. Remote mobile or smart kiosk check-ins are compatible with any SALTO installation and any existing room key technology.

Contactless with Mobile Credentials

The logical next step following mobile self-service check-in is to deliver contactless digital room keys or credentials to the guest's mobile device. Using a smartphone, the guest can request the hotel room key prior to arrival. The guest is checked-in via PMS integration and a secure digital key is delivered directly to their smartphone.

Using a mobile key app like SALTO's JustIN, the guest is able to access their digital key and can choose to go straight to their room upon arrival, or, if they prefer, can ask for assistance at the reception area or even request a physical smart key. This enables the guest to make their own decisions regarding how they want to physically interact with the hotel environment.

Contactless technology obviously reduces the amount of human interaction and eliminates the need for touching keys or key cards, but it offers much more. Mobile credentials or digital keys managed through the JustIN app give visitors the power to manage their guest experience from their smartphone. The mobile key can be programmed to automatically activate elevators without touching buttons, access main entrance and exit doors, garages, meeting rooms, gym, spa, pools, locker rooms, and the credentials can even be used to make purchases at retail, restaurant, rental and other POS locations throughout the property.

Digital Contact Tracing

Digital contact tracing will likely be a powerful tool in successfully reopening the hospitality sector. Contact tracing has been credited with stopping both SARS and Ebola outbreaks in the past. Digital contact tracing takes this process and introduces the power of location technology and the data trails left behind as guests and staff move through buildings and hotel facilities.

The entries and exits to a hotel or resort and the variety of access points within them (guest rooms, conference rooms, elevators, pools, spa, lockers, restrooms, etc.) are arguably the single most valuable location data collection points a property will have. With modern access control solutions, like those provided by SALTO Systems, properties already have real-time data being collected from every user moving about within their space and a data-rich audit trail to analyze potential virus exposure points and hotspots.

SALTO's proprietary data-on-card technology delivers an enhanced level of data collection that no other access control manufacturer can offer. Our system allows locks and credentials (that could be cards, fobs or mobile devices) to communicate via SVN (SALTO Virtual Network). This is a true read & write solution, meaning that the credential is actively collecting data from every interaction with the lock and then sharing that data with the network. This allows both the credential and a stand-alone lock to upload, store and download the latest access information of every guest and staff member authorized to access any area of the property.

With this type of real-time access data coming from a SALTO access control solution, digital contact tracing can pinpoint exposure time and location and help prevent additional infections.

Antimicrobial surfaces

During the pandemic, the potential for the spread of microbes by touching various surfaces has become a significant and frequent concern. As we are all now aware, it's essential to reduce either touchpoints or the contamination of touchpoints, not just in hospitals or healthcare facilities, but in all shared spaces including hotels and resorts.

Antimicrobial additives provide one means of minimizing touchpoint contamination and the possible spread of various diseases. Antimicrobial additives that contain silver ions can be incorporated into almost any material during the manufacturing process to minimize the spread of human disease.

Physical access control systems, by their nature, require users to touch a variety of surfaces, which can increase the risk of transferring microbes, especially in high-traffic areas. Incorporating a silver ion additive during the manufacturing process of access control hardware provides antimicrobial properties that can minimize the growth and spread of disease on that surface.

SALTO Systems offers BioCote® antimicrobial technology to address hygiene concerns and limit the spread of diseases. We offer this finish on the handles and levers of our smart electronic locking products, electronic cylinders, locker locks, and supporting devices like wall readers. The addition of antimicrobial technology helps reduce microbes on these product's surfaces, improves hygienic safety, and ultimately creates a cleaner environment for both guests and staff.

The Path Forward

There is nothing we all want more than to welcome back guests and delight them with exceptional travel experiences. Continuous R&D and a relentless devotion to developing new access control technology that advances the health, safety and security of everyone that interacts with it is one way we advocate for the survival and recovery of the hospitality industry. This new reality taking shape is certainly made up of complexity and uncertainty, but also of opportunities and new beginnings. To adapt and thrive, the hospitality industry must accelerate technology adoption, become resilient and agile. And, just as our software and hardware have combined to unlock millions of hotel doors prior to the pandemic, we want to work together with you now to unlock new possibilities as we move towards a post-COVID world.

https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4100927.html