11 min read
Aug 17, 2020
Hotel management

How to Create a Safe Stay for Your Hotel Guests During a Pandemic

Learn about the hotel management system features you need to minimize contact, communicate with guests, and still satisfy unique guest experiences.

A.K.
Amanda KennedySenior Content Writer

It’s no secret that, thanks to COVID-19, we’ve crossed into another frontier of travel. In our “new normal,” guests want to feel safe when they stay in hotels. 

This means providing as many contactless options as possible, from contactless check-in to digital room keys and contactless payment options for restaurants and excursions. And even pre-COVID-19, 66% of guests were willing to pay more for technology services they consider important, according to a 2018 study by Hospitality Technology.

Many of these hotel management system features come standard, or can be integrated into your hotel management or property management system (PMS). If you run a smaller hotel, you may not want to make new investments during an economic downturn, but these integrations are worth considering for future upgrades. In fact, in GetApp’s June 2020 survey of 577 business owners, we found that 71% of businesses are adding or have already added COVID-related surcharges to their pricing. (You can find our survey methodology at the bottom of the page.) These types of charges may be worth considering to help you finance future upgrades.

To help illustrate what this new experience looks like for your guests, let us take you on an imaginary staycation where we’ll walk you through the tech features you need to make your guest's stay more comfortable.

So grab your passport, suitcase, and sunglasses, and follow me on our tech-enabled staycation...

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

The staycation experience starts before your guest even arrives

The COVID-19 hotel experience begins with booking. With all the other pandemic-related anxieties going on for guests, they’re really craving convenience and simplicity. They may be price sensitive due to the economic downturn. They also want to know right off the bat what your cancellation policy is, in case they need to make any changes to their reservation if COVID-19 cases skyrocket or their family is sick. 

They also want to be able to book via mobile—easily selecting their dates on a calendar, seeing photographs of available rooms with clear pricing, and safely entering their personal information without running into any bugs or snafus.

How to use hotel software to make guests feel safe:

Even prior to COVID-19, many customers chose to book directly rather than going through a third party because it makes rescheduling and cancellations easier. COVID-19 has only accelerated that. Ensure your hotel management system booking engine enables an easy booking experience for customers.

Some PMS systems offer revenue management add-ons so your room rates can be dynamically adjusted due to changes in demand. With COVID-19, prices are fluctuating more than usual. For instance, you might want to lower prices to help incentivize guests to book, but you also don’t want to go too much lower than your competitors. This revenue management functionality could help ensure your prices are in sync across direct booking and third-party sites, and could encourage price-sensitive guests to book with you.

screenshot of Frontdesk Anywhere hotel management software

User-friendly direct-booking features include photos of the rooms with pricing information and a three-step process navigation bar on any device, such as this example from Frontdesk Anywhere

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

Guest services may look a bit different

Now that your guest has their room reservation, they want to know what the “new normal” is for your hotel. 

For instance:

  • Is the hotel using enhanced cleaning and disinfecting measures?

  • Are masks required for both guests and hotel staff?

  • Are there any special hospitality packages such as free masks and sanitizer?

  • What will be different about the front desk experience? 

  • What will their hotel room look like? (For example, no paper menus, decorative cushions, stationery, or pens.) 

  • How will you handle routine services like housekeeping? 

How to use hotel software to make guests feel safe:

Pre-arrival communication is key to helping your guests feel confident about your COVID-related procedures. Many hotel PMS platforms let you send text messages to keep guests updated about their reservation and keep track of conversations. Outline your new protocol ahead of time so guests know what to expect.

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

The new front desk is in your guest’s hands

Your guest has just pulled up to the hotel and vacation mode has truly set in. They’re used to making that first stop at the front desk, and hotels have been designed around this welcome experience. These days, however, your guest wants to limit in-person interaction as much as possible. They prefer checking in on their mobile device. And as much as they lived by the "treat yo’self" motto in the before times, now they’re probably going to forgo valet or any help with their bags. 

After checking in, your guest receives a digital room key on their personal device that allows them to enter their room, bypassing the front desk completely.

How to use hotel software to make guests feel safe:

Make sure your hotel software allows for mobile check-in, as well as filling out pre-arrival forms and credit card authorizations. 

Keyless entry is another feature that could give your hotel an advantage during the pandemic, but this is typically an extra add-on to your PMS. You’d also need to install new locks on all the doors, so this may be something to keep in mind for any future upgrades or remodels. Right now, the main players in implementing keyless entry are larger chains such as Starwood, Hilton, and Virgin, but smaller hotels may soon follow suit.

screenshot of Hotelist hotel management software

Confirming guest information using an online form in Hotelist hotel software

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

Encourage guests not to mask their personal preferences

Now that your guest has opened their door, they find a welcome pack that includes a reusable mask and hand sanitizer featuring the hotel’s logo. They requested (and pre-paid for) packaged snacks, so a charcuterie board with a bottle of wine awaits them. They decide to have an aperitif on their balcony before dinner.

How to use hotel software to make guests feel safe:

Make sure your property management software allows for personalization options and purchase add-on options during booking so that guests can customize their experience and make special requests.

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

Food for thought: Each guest has different dining comfort levels 

When it’s time for dinner, things may look much different than pre-COVID, as many guests may not feel comfortable dining in. Guests now plan stays around hotels that offer al fresco dining, have excellent room service, or have outdoor spaces where they can picnic. 

How to use hotel software to make guests feel safe:

Many hotel restaurants are turning their paper menus digital. Some hotel property management systems like HotelFriend also offer the ability for restaurant guests to scan their meal choice using a QR code and then customize it to their preference, allowing for a contactless ordering experience. 

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

Physically distant, yet socially connected

During the pandemic, guests may choose a hotel based on its proximity to outdoor activities. Bonus points if the hotel offers fun packages that allow guests to be physically distant from staff and other visitors, such as hikes, horseback riding, goat yoga, outdoor cooking classes, or an outdoor movie.

How to use hotel software to make guests feel safe:

Similar to using QR codes for food menus, you can also let guests choose excursions or activities through a contactless option by scanning a QR code to make their selection.

screenshot of HotelFriend hospitality management software

QR code menu in HotelFriend hospitality management software (Source)

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

Ask your guests to pay it forward

Now that your guest has thoroughly enjoyed their staycation, they’re ready to head back to their car with as few encounters as possible. After they check out on their mobile device, they see a popup asking them to complete a survey about their stay. 

How to use hotel software to make guests feel safe:

Your future guests want to know what you’re doing to help make things more comfortable during COVID-19. Ask your current guests to complete surveys and provide feedback, as well as rate you on review platforms such as Yelp or Google if they had a good experience. Many PMS platforms offer survey and feedback options so you can hear from guests.

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

Technology gives your hotel an advantage

Guests will have a distinctly different hotel stay experience due to the pandemic. Each guest will have varying levels of comfort and preferences. In order to minimize contact and still satisfy unique guest experiences, you need a hotel management software solution with excellent integration functionality so you can add features such as revenue management and keyless entry, and collect feedback from guests.

Even if you're an independent hotel owner, these hotel property management system upgrades may be worth considering as they could soon become the new normal for hotel guests.

Group 3@1x Created with Sketch.

Next steps

Methodology and Disclaimer

Methodology: The business model survey referenced in this article was conducted by GetApp between June 18 and June 23, 2020 among 577 respondents who reported executive leadership roles at small businesses with 500 or fewer employees. 

Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.

Back to top