As the coronavirus continues to accelerate hospitality’s digital transformation, it’s becoming more and more clear that many operations still rely on traditional offline, and in many cases paper processes. Not only are things like manual forms and authorizations antiquated, but now we’re finding that they’re unsanitary and, in some cases, illegal.
You hear about it constantly: The hotel industry is notoriously behind the times when it comes to technology adoption. Now, as COVID-19 shines the blacklight on all of the manual processes and physical exchanges between staff and guests, hoteliers have the opportunity to make quick and cost-efficient changes.
Look to the healthcare industry as an example. About a decade ago when visiting a physician, you were handed a clipboard with paperwork to fill out while you waited. That information was stuck in a file folder, and then stored on overflowing shelves and in filing cabinets. Highly sensitive data was vulnerable to any passerby, and requests to transfer information took time as copies needed to be made and mailed or scanned and sent to other doctors. Now, more than 80% of physicians use electronic health records in their operations, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It begs the question: If an entire industry can adopt and normalize a digital solution, why are hoteliers still relying on manual paper processes in their operations? Digital systems provide benefits that will improve your operations—and your bottom line. Read on for five reasons why it’s time to throw out the paper.
1. A Contactless Experience
Mobile check-in was gaining steam before the pandemic and has accelerated due to its ability to provide a contactless experience. However, many hotels are not equipped to overhaul their check-in process completely to implement a bypass-the-desk solution with mobile key.
There are plenty of options for operators that don’t have upgraded door locks on each guestroom door throughout the property. Hotels can start by eliminating any physical contact between the front-desk agent and the guest, and one option is to use a mobile solution through text message or e-mail.
2. Digital Equals Efficiency
Submitting RFPs, credit card authorizations, or amenity requests via paper forms is time-consuming—on all fronts. Your customers need to print the form, fill it out by hand, scan in the form, and then fax or email it back to you. Then, when the form is in your hands, it’s time to either print, countersign and send back, manually enter information into data fields, or print and file away into a place physically located on property.
Automating the process improves workflows and frees up your employees to spend their time strategizing and doing the tasks they were truly hired for. What’s more, because the information is all stored in one digital place, you are able to easily find the data you need at the time you need it. No more time is wasted searching through files to make sure you acquired all the required signatures.
3. Secure Operations
Take the physical documents out of the old filing cabinet and digitize them to a system that is password protected with multi-factor authentication security, backed by a PCI compliant technology partner. Because a digital system is password protected, you can ensure only the people who should be privy to sensitive information have access. Now, your data is secure and you are at less of a risk of facing fines and headaches due to a breach or a coronavirus-related outbreak.
4. Increased Client Satisfaction
Let’s face it, we live in a world where people want instant gratification. They don’t want to spend their time printing and scanning documents just so that they can authorize a credit card or purchase a bottle of champagne for their friend’s anniversary stay at your hotel. They want to be able to finish the task with a few clicks in a safe and sanitary environment — a feat that’s only possible with a digital system. A user-friendly process, in turn, leads to increased opportunities to capture additional revenue.
5. Raise the Revenue
If your clients or guests have to put too much work into the signing or purchasing process, there’s a higher chance they will jump ship. Consider this: 23% of shoppers abandon their cart during online purchases because the checkout process is too long or complicated, according to the Baymard Institute. If that many customers are leaving e-commerce purchases to languish, imagine how many of your guests will abandon the long, complicated process of printing, signing, and sending back paper forms. That means you’ll be leaving mega money on the table.
6. Future-Proofed Operations
While hoteliers might encounter some pain points moving from paper to digital, doing so will set hotel operations for future success. Now is the perfect time to put these strategies in place as we prepare to ramp up demand. Technology will only continue to evolve, and those hoteliers who resist embracing new systems will always be two steps behind the competition that is either in step with or on the cutting edge of tech. Once hotels go digital, operations are set up to be more agile in the future as things change and more features are introduced. It’s time to get on board so that you can be at the forefront and can hit the ground running as tech changes.
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