Will 2021 be the summer of love for innovative living? From serviced apartments and coliving to aparthotels and extended stay, there is widespread hope across the innovative living industry that a year of cabin fever will morph into a year of booking fever, that the roll-out of vaccines will lead to a roll-out of guests and that stringent restrictions will become bountiful reservations.
As restrictions are lifted, youth and leisure demand are expected to bounce back first, while business travel may take a more gradual approach with Bob Rauch, CEO of RAR Hospitality, estimating that “Q2 will see an uptick, Q3 will be all about pent-up leisure demand and Q4 will see a strong return of business travel.”
To take full advantage of guests’ eventual return, operators should be looking to differentiate by delivering a seamless guest experience from booking to post-stay. Here’s how.
- ‘Erase’ check-in
What do you think of when you hear ‘check-in’? Baggage-related arguments at the airport? Lengthy forms at the concierge? Awkward meet & greets? Check-in plays a vital role in gathering guest information and ensuring legal compliance, but thanks to tech advancements, it can also enhance guest experience too.
Now, operators can use tech platforms to automate the entire check-in process from booking to check-out. From signing rental contracts and providing ID verification to watching a virtual property tour and obtaining remote property access, guests can control the ‘check-in’ process from their phone and head straight to their apartment at their leisure. It’s a win-win - less hassle and more control for guests, less costs and more data for operators.
- Roll-out keyless access
Covid has accelerated the keyless access trend from ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘must-have’. More environmentally-friendly, more secure and more convenient, enabling guests to open their apartments with their phone is more than about not having a key. Guests can arrive and leave at a time that suits. Guests don’t have to worry about lost keys or late-night locksmiths. Guests appreciate the trust of the operator and can avoid heavy-touch surfaces.
Smart lock solutions have developed to the point where the hardware is invisible, but the impact is clear. For operators, key codes can easily be reset and sent to service personnel for specific time slots, while also minimising lost key costs and providing a full history of comings and goings. It’s a win-win (spot the theme yet?).
- Provide a guest app
From seamless 'check-in' to seamless 'get-in' to seamless 'within', operators can enhance guests' in-apartment experience with a guest app. Thanks to wider tech trends such as Alexa, Amazon Prime and Netflix, control and instancy is the new form of guest luxury. Yes, fast wifi is vitally important, but that is now a minimum requirement and to stand out from the crowd, operators should empower guests to personalise their in-apartment experience. That’s using your phone to set the room temperature in advance. That’s controlling the curtains with a touch of a button. That’s logging maintenance issues, communicating directly with service personnel and choosing housekeeping preferences via an app.
In addition, a guest app allows operators to use one dashboard to keep track of all housekeeping and maintenance requests, so yes it’s a...you’ve guessed it...win-win.
Experience is the great differentiator
After a year of no travel, guests’ brand loyalties have been reset. They are willing to try new companies, new areas and new ways of living, so innovative living operators need to differentiate themselves to take advantage. Delivering frictionless end-to-end automation from booking to check-out is that differentiator. Not only does it enhance guest experience and cut operator costs, but it also helps properties comply with social distancing and hygiene measures. It’s a...ahem.