Vibhu Gaind, Chief Information Officer at RBH, looks at the acceleration of cashless transactions during the pandemic
The events of the last two years have taken the hospitality industry on a very varied journey – changing how we interact with our guests, provide services, and have meaningful contact while leaning on the technology support available.
Being mindful of COVID-transmission from a business perspective largely relies on technology to enable contactless options wherever possible throughout the customer journey. As such, traditional cash payment methods need to have equally simple and convenient alternatives. Cash payments hit an all-time low in 2020 with ukfinance.org reporting cash transactions making up only 17% of all transactions.
From initial decision and booking, operators must be discoverable online and have a slick and attractive website offering. Mobile apps are a great way to hook in repeat business opportunities and to enable marketing direct to customers. Once customers arrive at the hotel, our systems will enable them to interact with and order services via mobile. Integrated POS systems with digital ordering and integrated payments allow customers to pay at the point of purchase or pay at the table before leaving. These help to mitigate contact between staff and customers while keeping the business process smooth and easy. Integrated payment solutions alleviate the staff requirements to collect payment and reduce back-office admin.
In addition to this, smart tools, such as remote service request tech allow meeting delegates to request services, and staff to deliver them, without having to have contact and without having to interrupt or leave a meeting, promoting safe social distancing.
In the meeting space, the addition of offering hybrid meeting options allows the business to continue to operate and sell meeting space, whilst reducing the number of social contact points or coming against local or national restrictions.
Self-check in solutions via mobile or self-service pods allow customers to limit interaction with front desk whilst speeding up the check in and checkout process. That being said, the personal touch will also be more essential than ever and has to be kept alive. Technology will reduce the number of events requiring personal interaction and help combat staff shortages, but enhancing the quality of interactions will be key – the wow factor on arrival at the hotel or in the guest room/meeting space, knowing the personal taste of our guests and systems to allow bespoke interaction will further bridge the gap of customer service.
Within the RBH portfolio, ibis budget London Heathrow T5 has been implementing a cashless operation across the hotel. Commenting on the success of the transition, Icynth Ferrão, the hotel’s General Manager said: “Going cashless has really benefitted the team as it removes the issues of balancing or cash shortages, leading to impeccable accuracy on the accounts. It has also drastically reduced damages that were being caused in the rooms, which have now decreased by almost 90%.
“Our menus are digital, so all orders are taken and paid for through a QR code. Overall, this has proved very popular with customers. A guest can sit in their room and place a room service order without having to speak to anyone or leave their room. It is all done seamlessly and the technology has helped the team to concentrate more on guest experience.”