How Tech Can Power The Hospitality Industry Post-COVID 

Of all the sectors of the economy that have been detrimentally impacted by the coronavirus crisis – in other words, practically all of them – it is hospitality that might have seen the most profound damage, and therefore the stiffest challenges to overcome. 

Hospitality businesses such as hotels, restaurants and coffee shops have long used technology to bolster their competitiveness and resilience. However, there is also little doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest tests such firms have faced in living memory.


There are both technological and non-technological answers to the coronavirus 

Of course, not all measures that have been put in place to aid hospitality businesses in surviving and thriving in the wake of the coronavirus have been technological ones. This is evidenced by the social distancing markers, Perspex screens and hand sanitising stations that have become a common sight across such businesses’ premises. 

But as these firms adjust themselves for the longer-term post-COVID landscape, the role of technology is becoming almost inescapable. 

The requirements imposed by lockdowns and other coronavirus health measures have led to the acceleration of existing tech-related trends in hospitality – such as the ever-greater sophistication of firms’ digital presences and online ordering systems – but also some slightly more surprising developments. 



Hospitality can still be ‘hospitable’, even with technology 

One of the big worries among some observers about the ever-increasing use of technology in the hospitality sector, is that it could detract from much of the whole ‘point’ of services like restaurant dining and hotel stays – the opportunities they provide for direct human contact. 

However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the ‘personal touch’ will be lost as a result of technology becoming more prominent. Technology can help provide the data, for instance, that better informs the typical restaurant, hotel or other hospitality business about the demographics or habits of their customers. This, in turn, could assist them in delivering even more suitably personalised and memorable customer experiences, including in person. 

In any case, technology has hardly only just become a part of how hospitality firms operate with the onset of the COVID-19 situation. Long before terms like “social distancing” or “lockdown restrictions” were common parlance, customers were accustomed to performing quick Google searches on their smartphones to find the nearest café, or reading online reviews for that takeaway they may have long been curious about. 

We have also seen artificial intelligence (AI) more prominently used by hospitality firms in recent times – such as the chatbots used on hotel websites to answer any questions someone interested in staying there may have. With a solution like this potentially saving the customer from even having to turn up in the given hotel’s reception to ask the same question, and fewer team members needing to be available to answer such a query, one can quickly appreciate the relevance of this tech in a world after COVID-19. 

The most successful tech interventions by hospitality firms in the post-COVID era are likely to build on many of the same principles that helped make the above developments so commonplace and successful – ranging from convenience for the customer, to greater agility for the businesses themselves. 




How has the typical hospitality firm responded to the crisis? 

The most urgent priority for restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic has naturally been to help protect their bottom lines by reassuring the customer that they can continue using their services safely. Tech has already played a strong role in ensuring this, and is likely to continue doing so. 

Digital technology providers like Slerp, for example, can provide solutions like the complete online ordering system for restaurants. Technology like this enables eateries to give customers the option of placing an order via the web, instead of having to turn up to a physical customer service counter. 

Such technological solutions help reassure prospective customers, by giving them the ability to minimise their time spent in close physical proximity to other human beings, with the risk this could bring of spreading infection. This enables them to feel more confident in taking advantage of the cuisine or other products or services to which they may have long been accustomed from the given hospitality business before COVID-19. 

In turn, solutions like this also bring direct benefit to the business itself, by enabling it to offer a sophisticated, seamless and efficient service to the customer. The Slerp online ordering system, for example, allows the restaurant or similar business to provide an intuitive and quick customer checkout process, along with many options such as Click + Collect, Order At Table, and local and nationwide delivery. 


With or without future pandemics, tech in hospitality is inevitable 

Ultimately, customers are likely to have a wide range of preferences and expectations from hospitality businesses in the years to come, and the right technological solutions can assist firms in meeting all of those requirements. 

Some customers will expect the complete ‘old-school’ hospitality experience, such as the opportunity to dine with friends at one table, while benefitting from a professional, receptive and tailored service. Others may be particularly conscious about hygiene and health and safety, in which case, they are likely to appreciate technologies such as self-sanitising door handles and facial recognition for contactless check-ins, which – as a result – could also support many a hospitality firm’s growth.

The two aforementioned ‘categories’ of customer are not completely apart from each other, with much overlap in terms of the concerns your hospitality business’s future customers are likely to have. What’s more, there are many technologies that will bring convenience and reassurance to would-be customers in both ‘groups’. 

Giving visitors to your business’s website the option to take a ‘virtual tour’ of your premises, for instance, could allow them to check that the space allows for responsible social distancing, while also giving them a more accurate impression of what your brick-and-mortar site is generally like. 

Over the generations, the hospitality sector has consistently demonstrated its ability to reinvent itself in response to events and changing preferences – and in the post-COVID age, technology will almost certainly be a key part of many such businesses’ armoury. 

That will likely be the case whether the customer is on their smartphone and simply wishes to request immediate doughnut delivery in London from a firm like Crosstown, or organising an ambitious trip that will see them in contact with many different hotels and restaurants in different countries across the globe.