Testing New Technology

By Dennis Nessler | April 7, 2021

It’s certainly no secret that the ongoing pandemic is likely to profoundly accelerate the use of technology in many aspects of daily life going forward, including hospitality. Technology was front and center for the lodging industry this week as a couple major brands have begun beta testing some innovative new solutions designed to help guests navigate the ‘new normal.’

First, Marriott unveiled the debut of a pilot program for contactless arrival kiosks as well as a contactless grab-and-go marketplace, which are being rolled out to a handful of select-service hotels. As part of the first initiative, guests can skip the traditional check-in and complete a three-step process at the arrival kiosk to check in with room keys are created on the spot. According to the company, the kiosks employ antimicrobial technology within the touchscreen glass, powered by UV light to kill bacteria and viruses. Prior to departure, guests can use the kiosks for contactless check-out as well and to view their folio.

Certainly bypassing the front desk is nothing new for the industry as many hotels and brands have been offering mobile check-in for quite some time, but this represents an interesting alternative.

The company also introduced wall-to-wall kiosks that offer a centralized marketplace for guests to purchase select snacks, beverages, lite bites, and sundries. With breakfast buffets a thing of the past, the kiosk actually includes a selection of hot breakfast sandwiches, sweet indulgences, yogurt, cereal, and fruit every morning, according to Marriott. Specialty coffee and expanded a-la-carte items will also be available for purchase at the kiosks with contact-free Bluetooth payment.

Meanwhile, vaccination passports continue to gain momentum as more of a necessity going forward in order for people to travel. To underscore the emergence of these types of technology solutions, according to a recently released study, commissioned by Amadeus and delivered by Censuswide, some 91 percent of travelers surveyed said that they would be comfortable using a digital health passport for future trips.

In accordance with those figures, Hyatt Hotels Corporation is targeting group business as it announced plans to explore VeriFLY + Stay, a mobile health passport for the hospitality industry. The VeriFLY app provides verification of COVID-19 credentials and travel guidelines. This mobile app allows meeting attendees and colleagues to directly receive and present COVID-19 test results, according to the company.

As part of the company’s exploration efforts, Hyatt will work closely with meeting planners to identify criteria for meeting attendees, which could include presenting a recent negative COVID-19 test. The criteria can then be communicated to attendees in the VeriFLY mobile app prior to arrival so they can fulfill their requirements and complete all necessary forms. Meeting attendees who satisfy a meeting’s requirements will be able to use the app to display a green checkmark for entry into the meeting or event.

While it may be a while before the industry sees widespread usage of these technology solutions, the potential impact of these solutions is undeniable.


Dennis Nessler

Dennis Nessler brings more than 28 years of editorial experience, including some 17 years in the hospitality industry. He covers the industry editorially but moderates various high-level panel sessions at hospitality events and frequently conducts one-on-one interviews with C-level executives.

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