Moving to a Contactless World
The following is an excerpt on contactless technology in the cruise industry, from The Future of Cruise Dining, the recent whitepaper from Cruise Conversations.
In the recovery period from COVID-19, hotels are looking towards technology solutions that ‘not only inspire guest confidence during their stay, but also address staff safety.’ Industry magazine Hotel Management explains that it is for this reason that contactless solutions have become a priority within the hospitality industry. Moving beyond the front desk of a hotel lobby, staff can use tablets or kiosks to service tech-savvy guests, reducing the need for person-to-person contact points, with the dual effect of reducing queues. In more than four thousand global Hilton hotels, digital check-in is available through the Hilton Honors app. Hilton says the app allows a customer to check-in, choose their room, and use their phone as a key to enter the room, as well as completely bypass the front desk. These technologies can be adapted for use in restaurants, shops, and more.
In the dining setting, contactless ordering and payment can help to keep reduced contact between staff and customers. Australian contactless ordering company Me&u expect a contactless economy on the other side of coronavirus restrictions. In a survey conducted with >500 Australians in April, the company found that 94% of customers don’t want to touch cash, and 64% said they don’t want to touch a menu, even if it’s disposable. This is where Me&u’s technology comes into play. The system, along with many other similar technologies such as Creventa, Presto, and Tayble, uses the guests’ own smartphone to facilitate ordering. By utilising readily available, everyday technologies, contactless ordering apps reduce the need for multi-use or disposable menus and staff-to-customer contact, while retaining the smooth experience expected from dining out.
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This can be translated to a cruise setting. For those lines catering to younger markets, where smartphone usage is high, a contactless ordering and payment system can be implemented quickly. In fact, many contactless wearable technologies are already in place on board, including Princess Cruises’ Medallion, and Virgin Voyages’ The Band. While these wearables are mostly used to facilitate easing of onboarding and navigation, the possibility for adaptation is there. VP of Modernization & Newbuilding at ALMACO and Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo Advisory Board member Erik Schobesberger believes that COVID-19 is a technology accelerator:
By this measure, with the catalyst of COVID-19, we are likely to see a mass expansion of contactless (and likely wearable) technologies in cruise in the coming years.
MSC Cruises, which resumed sailing mid-August, has made all restaurant and bar menus available to guests through scanning a QR code on their personal smart device.
For older demographics, where smartphone usage is still relatively low (19% of UK over-65s are smartphone users, compared to 95% of 16-24s, as of 2019), alternative contact-reducing efforts such as these wearables can be considered.
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