Hotels Turn to Tech To Compete in the New Normal

June 24, 2020

As the industry recovers from the effects of COVID-19, the challenges independent owners and operators face have been exacerbated.

Coronavirus has ushered in a new “contactless” guest experience, including arrival, check-in and room access. Because new processes and technologies can often open up new vulnerabilities, there is a heightened sensitivity around keeping guests’ Personally Identifiable Information out of the wrong hands.

But independent hotels that don’t have access to brand resources – such as loyalty programs, mobile apps and other guest-facing technology – must find alternative ways to compete with their branded brethren in the new normal of guest-facing operations. 

Stacy Warner, Eat.Sleep.Drink

To get some property-level perspective, we recently spoke with Stacy Warner, director of sales and marketing at Eat.Drink.Sleep, an ownership and management company with a portfolio of seven high-design, F&B-driven independent hotels in California and Arizona. 

Q: How were the Eat.Drink.Sleep hotels affected by coronavirus, and are they recovering?

Warner: A handful of our hotels stayed open for the essential travelers, but business was abysmal. Thankfully, they’re all open now with San Diego leadership recently permitting us to welcome leisure business again.

We did have to decrease our staff size, but we made the decision early on to keep a significant amount of staff on property. They were there to answer calls and provide as much information as they could. We didn’t want someone who booked a wedding to not be able to talk to someone on property for two months. Now that we’re opening back up, we’re really glad we made that investment and we are in a much better place. We were able to avoid a lot of messes.

Q: Who oversees technology decisions at the organization?

Warner: We’re pretty fluid with how things happen. A lot of the technology decisions stem from me, but sometimes we get owners who come to us and suggest applications that they’ve used elsewhere. That was the case with Canary, but it can go in both directions.

Q: What led you to respond to COVID with more modern technology solutions?

Warner: From the get go, we wanted guests to know that we’re taking this seriously, so we were looking at pretty much all the technology and other ways to keep them safe, from electromagnetic sprayers to foggers in the rooms.

But, just as importantly, we also wanted to show our staff how seriously we’re taking COVID-19 because they’re on the frontlines, and if we’re going to ask them to learn new ways to safely take care of our guests, it’s on us to give them all the possible tools.

Q: What specific tools have you implemented?

Warner: We started with moving our credit card authorizations into a more secure environment. It was pretty much a no-brainer. Email is not a compliant way to communicate guest information, so we were getting it over fax, which was even wonkier. We felt this dual pressure to keep our guests’ information safe as it was communicated to us, as well as keep it in a secure place in case we need to access it later.

At the front desk, we put the plexiglass up for guests who wanted that option, but now we’re using Contactless Check-in. We looked at a lot of solutions, and we were not in a situation where we could launch a mobile key and ask our owners to make that kind of investment. Most brands accomplish that through their app, but for an independent it’s tough to ask guests to download an app at each hotel they stay at. Contactless Check-in is not a very complicated product, it just lays on top of what you already have, and it works really well. 

Q. As you open back up, how quickly were you able to get Contactless Check-in from Canary up and running?

We talked about it on Wednesday, and we were rolling it out on Monday. I was asking myself, “Is this real?” They were very flexible with terms and you appreciate that when you’re a small company.

Interested in learning more?

How To Improve the Hotel Guest Experience

In the hospitality industry, a hotel guest’s experience is the single most important factor in determining whether or not they will become a repeat customer. 

Read More

The Technology Solutions Luxury Hotels Should Embrace To Augment the Guest Experience

Luxury hotels have lagged behind the technology curve for too long. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. The past few years have seen a constant stream of technology innovations that have made it easier than ever for hotels to operate in the digital age.

Read More

How To Create a Hotel Guest Policy That Works for You & Your Guests

While the hotel guest policy is a dry subject, it’s important, nonetheless. ‍The good thing is that doing it properly once means you don’t have to worry about it until you significantly change something about your services. 

Read More

10 Popular Upselling Examples for Hotels

The types of amenities and services a hotel operator chooses to upsell can depend on a variety of factors, but there are some near universal upsell options for hoteliers looking to boost ancillary revenue.

Read More

8 Smart Hotel Technology Solutions That Improve the Guest Experience

With consumers more reliant on and comfortable with digital environments and tools than ever, it’s high time that the hospitality industry fully embrace smart hotel technology to improve the guest experience from pre-arrival through post-checkout. 

Read More
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.

Privacy Preference Center

By using this website, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.