Prof. Vanessa Borkmann is a scientist at Fraunhofer IAO, head of the FutureHotel innovation network, and the author of the study. In it she explains: “A smart and resilient hotel is one that exhibits a high degree of digitalization and is thus in a position to survive stressful, threatening (life) situations without lasting impairment to their operations.” To support hotel owners in implementing their own digitalization strategies, the study provides specific help in four strategic action areas that allow for physical distancing between guests and hotel staff: smart services, new work, digital business, and smart building.
For example, the study showcases smart services that can help avoid physical contact, such as autonomous check-in and check-out using a smartphone or terminal, digital payment options, and needs-based housekeeping. The other potential solutions described include a website that offers guest 360°-views of the building – this can also reduce the time guests spend looking for things in the hotel and prevent them from encountering other guests on arrival. Among other things, hotel employees should be given the option of performing tasks from home that do not require their presence in the hotel. Service robots, driverless transportation systems, and state-of-the-art audio- and video-conferencing systems are all part of a smart, connected hotel ecosystem, in which direct human contact can be reduced to a minimum without sacrificing the level of service provided to guests.
Non-contact services already in use in a Vienna hotel
Hotel Schani in Vienna began putting the findings from the research project into practice as early as April 2015. Since then, the hotel has deployed smart technologies that allow guests to check in or open the door to their hotel room using a smartphone. Guests can use an app to quickly access their room keys, update their reservation data at any time, or call up a host of useful information for their trip. “These services were developed in collaboration with Fraunhofer IAO and required a lot of time and effort. But now, at the very latest, the advantages they offer are there for all to see. Research pays off,” underscores Benedikt Komarek, CEO and owner of Hotel Schani.