4 opportunities for touchless tech in a post-COVID world

With touch taboo amid COVID-19, travel accommodation providers are realising they can set themselves apart with a zero-contact stay. Here are four ways they’re using touchless technology to do it.

The contactless check-in

Even before COVID, the concept of contactless check-in was attracting attention across serviced accommodation providers as a way to make arrival for guests both more flexible and efficient. Now, with travellers keen to minimise physical interaction wherever possible, it looks set to become the norm.

Using an app or mobile registration process guests can simply upload their details or documents ahead of time, these are remotely approved by an operator and a digital key provided. Often using geo-location software, these digital keys activate once the user is in range of a property, with a Bluetooth shared between the device and the door lock, unlocking it automatically once they’re outside. This same app can be used by an operator to share additional room or property details, such as Wi-Fi codes or how to use the heating.

The property owner saves time, and the traveller feels safe and secure.

The mobile concierge

As much as there’s no longer a need for a physical meet-and-greet at a property, there’s also little need for an in-person concierge service.

From housekeeping requests to ordering food and in-room services, a new swathe of mobile apps are emerging that allow property operators to handle it all, without ever needing to enter a property.

Only in April, a new integrated concierge app called Jenny launched that allows guests to request everything from the rubbish to be taken out (and at what time) to extra bed linen to be delivered and even query bookings for cabs, restaurants or trips to the theatre.

Everything, in other words, that an in-person concierge would deliver, but all at a safe distance.

The remote-controlled room

Want to turn the TV off? Switch on mood lighting for dinner? Or put on your favourite soundtrack in the morning? Well, tech means we can do all those things without touching anything beyond our smartphone.

A remote-controlled room doesn’t require huge expense or effort. With just an Amazon Echo and an inexpensive piece of hardware, guests can Ask Alexa to control lights, play music and adjust volume. Or with an additional hub installed, they can use a hotel or property operator’s existing mobile app to heat up the water before they head home from a long day or turn on the central heating.

As well as providing extra convenience, these small additions can help minimise contact in a post-COVID climate, removing the need for multiple people fiddling with the same thermostat or remote control.

The cleaning robots

Housekeeping is an integral part of the service provided by both hotels and serviced accommodation providers. But it also requires allowing additional people into a room or property, something that travellers may simply feel uncomfortable with amid ongoing concerns around COVID.

Using a property’s mobile app is one way providers are mitigating this, by giving guests the option to schedule housekeeping services for when they’re out or at less regular intervals if they prefer.

But we could also see the adoption of more automated cleaning robots in the coming months, as a way to keep facilities sparkling clean while minimising physical contact. Already these robots are being used by some providers, often using ultra-violet light to quickly and safely sanitise each and every surface in a property. There are even portable versions being launched and targeted at travellers themselves, such as the CleanseBot which claims to disinfect beds, electronic devices and more, all while fitting in your suitcase.

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