Contactless stays: Is this the end of personalised service in the hospitality industry?

  • Clinton Moodley (IOL)

The next time you check into a hotel, your experience will be different. Staff will wear masks, and you may no longer be able to see that warm smile that they flash when they welcome guests to their establishment. Everything will be electronic, with self-check-in counters and the use of cell phone apps to lock and unlock the hotel room door. Besides the ‘good day sir/ma’am’, staff will keep a safe distance away. Post-Covid-19 travel could spell the end for personalised welcomes, room service, or turndown services.

The hotel

Hotel guests thrive on personalised service, so accommodation establishments need to come up with innovative ways to ensure that their guests don’t feel unwelcomed before, during and after their stay. I’ve been to hotels pre-Covid-19 that I vowed to never visit again. The staff was unfriendly, they didn’t check in on me during the duration of my stay, and the food and beverage services were appalling. Contactless stays doesn’t mean establishments need to drop the ball on guest services and experiences. A personalised note, a sweet treat to commemorate a special event or calls to check in on the guests are small ways to ensure that the guest doesn’t feel neglected. As establishments are competing for business, travellers not only want affordable prices but a place that offers a unique experience. In an age of technology, one bad review on social media could harm the business.

The guest

Guests also need to play their role in ensuring that they adhere to rules set by the accommodation establishment. Guests should not criticise an establishment as many are trying their best to adapt to the new normal. If there is a problem, address it with the general manager before posting the experience on social media. Mutual respect between the hotel guest and the staff is what will ensure the success of post-Covid-19 travel.