Advancing Hospitality in the Post-COVID Economy

    Hotel restaurants, in particular, could have an opportunity ahead.

    Outside Insights | September 27, 2022 | Ali Knapp
    Taco Bell poolside

    Taco Bell

    Overall technology is creating a better experience for hotel guests and diners, and hospitality operators should embrace the change.

    Tech has been at the forefront at advancing the customer experience for shoppers, foodies and those looking for their next destination. Despite technology advancing alongside us for a generation, the exponential growth over the past two years has been massive. The pandemic reshaped how customer-oriented businesses adopt new products to meet changing customer attitudes—and the function of hospitality.

     As consumer demands shift in the post-COVID economy, novel technologies bridge the gap while simultaneously advancing businesses’ ability to operate more productively. Tech benefits the hospitality industry by introducing tools that create a seamless experience for customers, simplify the work for employees and give learning a more significant role in day-to-day operations. These technologies, such as learning management systems (LMS) and learning experience platforms (LXP), allow businesses to focus on reducing expenses, maximizing revenue streams, managing employees, meeting business objectives, creating personalized customer experiences and preventing human error.

    Hospitality tech

    Customers regularly use their smartphones to do things like book flights, schedule a dinner reservation or make exciting plans in a new town by only a tap and finger swipe. These technologies collect profile information and assist companies in creating personalized ads for each customer. A web of physical devices with hardware and software creates the Internet of Things (IoT), which allows users to accomplish practically everything from their smart device such as placing food orders or opening their hotel door.

    Unknown to the public, the hospitality industry relies on LMS and LXP technologies to fuel their employees' learning, training and development. LMSs have streamlined learning and development programs by providing management with an all-encompassing platform for hosting training, employee performance tracking and most importantly cultivating cohesion across teams and employees.

    Dining and lodging establishments, both equally impacted by the pandemic, are experimenting with new technologies to meet government measures, navigate pandemic-related perils and continue to serve their clientele as best as possible.

    What’s in store for restaurant tech?

    Preceding the pandemic, diners and food establishments were already migrating to technology to improve their services and reach deliverables quicker. Entrepreneurs in these spaces found themselves short-staffed and turned to automated alternatives powered by artificial intelligence (AI) like self-serve kiosks or robots.  

    At the height of the pandemic, only about 20 percent of guests responded feeling comfortable dining in at a restaurant. That number has now returned to 80 percent confidence but restaurateurs should not neglect the benefits of contactless service. 

    Contactless orders and payments have become a staple in the hospitality industry as they are virtually ubiquitous options across all US restaurants. Food delivery apps like GrubHub and DoorDash experienced a boon in business as in-person stores faced shutdowns, and their convenience continues to satisfy customers as business reopens.  

    In moments of high volatility and ever-changing government mandates during the pandemic, many restaurants realized the utility of an LMS in communicating updated cleaning guidelines and employee quarantine protocols. This allowed food service industries to pivot towards sustainable and safe practices while maintaining the interests of their customers as best as possible.

    After having the experience, about half of adults responded they would like restaurants to offer more convenient take-out/delivery options according to a National Restaurant Association survey. Drive-thrus similarly experienced a boost in use during the pandemic and continue to be widely utilized. Taking note of this, fast food restaurants like Chick-fil-A have invested heavily in optimizing their drive-thru food delivery system.

    What’s in store for hotel tech?

    To sustain a viable business during the industry-wide interruption caused by the global pandemic, hotels had to launch a suite of tech solutions to improve their guest’s experience and shore up their bottom line. Guests are impressed with more tech-oriented comforts, like automated bellhop assistants, ultraviolet room sanitization, digital keys, online room booking and check-in. Furthermore, the rise in remote work has led hotels to offer more accommodations and conveniences to those who travel with their work. Rooms are now decorated with the consideration in mind that occupants may want their lodging to double as a workspace. By providing reliable internet connection, access to conference and meeting rooms, hotels shift with the changing nature of work. 

    More recently, travelers have been motivated by the need for self-care after months of being cooped up indoors has left them feeling fatigued. Hotel managers can capitalize on the trend and mutually benefit by offering immersive experiences focused on wellness and health, nutrition and fitness to attract new clientele. Through an LMS, managers can efficiently design and share new client engagement training for employees and inform them about new hotel experiences to stay up-to-date on the latest guest offers.

    Overall technology is creating a better experience for hotel guests and diners, and hospitality operators should embrace the change. The pandemic accelerated the tech trend within the hospitality industry, and now is the perfect opportunity to incorporate those long-stalled projects that might otherwise have disrupted business. People are eager to plan their next vacation, and a refresh to the experiences they know and enjoy will be a great welcome to the new normal of hospitality. 

    Ali Knapp is the president at WisetailAli is a foundational force in leading and growing Wisetail’s diverse client base. Originally from Michigan, Ali earned a degree in Packaging Engineering at Michigan State and has worked for companies including Bausch & Lomb and Hewlett-Packard. After initially leading Wisetail’s CX team, Ali took the reins of the sales team before being named President.