Contactless experiences will be key to hospitality success in 2021

contactless experiences

People are anxious to get traveling as soon as they can. Contactless experiences will help give them the confidence to do so.

As we charge enthusiastically into 2021, global travelers are eager to get globetrotting when coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions are lifted. And one thing that will help them to feel more confident in doing so is technology. Leaders and decision makers would do well to embrace the technology options available to them in order to aid recovery of the travel sector.

Recent surveys by various parties sought to gain insight into how the travel and hospitality industries can recover from the challenges faced in 2020. Key findings include that 95% of Americans are missing travel and that they are eager to embrace contactless and mobile experiences.

Americans are excited to get traveling

In response to a survey by Hilton nine in 10 US respondents said that travel memories are among their fondest, winning out over special occasions and personal achievements. And travel is credited with creating people’s most frequently recalled happy memories with the majority of respondents also stating that creating these memories is a primary motivation for taking trips.

More than half said travel memories are more important than their favorite piece of jewelry (54%), and their smartphone (53%). That’s some serious love of travel. And, since so many people have been grounded for extended periods of time, it’s no surprise that we’re eager to take off. A massive 94% of respondents who travel, plan to do so once pandemic-related restrictions and limitations are lifted. Two thirds plan to make travel a priority and to take the bucket list trip of their dreams. Almost all (91%) travelers agree that hotels help to make a trip memorable, most notably when guests can wake up next to a view.

Contactless experiences will play an important role

While this is all very exciting for both the hospitality sector and travelers themselves, there remain concerns on both sides about safety, comfort levels, and more. Contactless and touchless experiences will be key. A survey of more than 2,000 travelers found that the desire for contactless experiences is high. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they would prefer to check in and out through a hotel app, 30% would prefer to check in and out online, and only eight percent would prefer to check in and out at a public kiosk. Hospitality companies will need to offer these options.

How technology can ease fears and create a safer environment

A report from  travel technology company Amadeus confirms that technology will play a crucial role in supporting recovery of the industry. Travel and tourism jobs in areas like hospitality, airlines, cruises, travel agencies, car rentals, events, and attractions accounted for one in 10 jobs in the world pre-COVID. Amadeus commissioned the research to learn how the industry and governments can work to rebuild traveler confidence and stimulate recovery of the sector. A survey of more than 6,000 travelers across France, Germany, India, Singapore, UK, and the US, was designed to unearth traveler’s top concerns and learn how technology can help ease them.  

Highlights of the findings include: 

  • 84% of travelers said technology would increase their confidence to travel in the next year by addressing concerns around crowds, social distancing and physical touchpoints.
  • 42% of respondents say contactless and mobile payment options are key to reducing physical contact.
  • 42% say mobile applications that provide notifications about localized COVID-19 outbreaks and changes to government guidelines would make them feel better about traveling.
  • 34% of travelers who have concerns about traveling say biometrics like facial or voice recognition that enable check-in, pass-through security, and boarding without the need for physical checks would make them more likely to travel.

The top five things travelers want out of travel-related technology are:

  • Reduced lines and congestion in public spaces (38%)
  • Minimizing of face-to-face or physical contact with others (31%)
  • Protection of financial data and personal information (31%)
  • Advance notice of delays (29%)
  • Accurate and effective national test, track, and trace programs (28%)

For stakeholders, the survey results show that the top five ways to build traveler confidence include: 

  • Providing access to flexible change, cancellations policies, and payment terms (39%)
  • Limiting the number of passengers on a plane (38%)
  • Making it possible for travelers to socially or physically distance throughout the journey (36%)
  • Having visibility to and assurance of sanitization, hygiene, and safety measures in hotels and accommodations (36%)
  • Having effective test, track and trace programs in place (34%)

“This research provides a source of optimism for the industry as many of the travelers’ concerns can be addressed by technology available now, at every stage of a traveler’s experience. Whether it is new mobile applications, biometrics or contactless solutions, we need to explore together as an industry and with governments how best to accelerate adoption if we are to encourage global travel, which is a major driver of global prosperity,” Christophe Bousquet, Chief Technology Officer, Amadeus, is quoted as saying.



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