Your next hotel stay set to change! Gear up for digital menus, robot services, boxed meals and more

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Updated: October 15, 2020 2:26 PM

Your next leisurely stay at a hotel is set for a big change right from the time you check in till your final check out.

Not all stakeholders are convinced that guests will venture out to hotels and dining in restaurants though the lockdown has lifted and hotels are now rolling out special offers and initiatives. (Representative image)

While travel may take time to pick up, luxury hotels in Delhi and Noida are ready to welcome guests. For Indian travellers, road trips are likely to gain momentum. With the festive period setting in, several families are mulling the idea of short trips to locations they can easily drive down to. Meanwhile, India’s hospitality sector has now turned to embrace digital methodologies to ensure safety of guests. Mindful of safety protocols, premium hotels are adhering to minimal contact from check-ins to check-outs.

From switching to digital menus that have been rejigged to prioritize healthy meals to introducing technological interventions such as robots at front office desks, there are interesting changes set to transform your next hotel stay in India.

For instance, ITC Hotels launched the ‘WeAssure’ initiative, which has received an accreditation by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH), and partnered with DNV GL Business Assurance, known to be one of the world’s leading certification bodies to ensure stringent levels of safety and hygiene. ITC has remodelled its laundry spaces with thermal disinfection processes and segregated workplaces. Notably, ITC restaurants have remodelled layouts to ensure safe distancing, sanitised dining and contactless billing. Mindfully curated menus are now being offered at ITC’s All-Day Dining Pavilions and at other key signature restaurants. Hand sanitisers are made available on each table for guests, along with QR code enabled digital menus, Knock and Drop menu, Grab and Go options and e payment facility. All high traffic touchpoints including knobs, elevators and taps are disinfected on an hourly basis.

New normal in hotels: Technology interventions to ensure contactless service for guests

While technology interventions are a welcome sign of the ‘new normal’, does it also imply the beginning of a new era for Indian travellers? Questions such as ‘Will robots soon occupy front offices at premium hotels’ or ‘Robots will charge for customer-facing services including contactless serving in dining restaurants?’ are rational, from the perspective of safety protocols.

As Rajeev Karwal, Founder, Milagrow Robots told The Financial Express Online, “Technology intervention would be an interesting trend to witness how these devices will shift the approach to be in a contactless world.”

What big changes guests can expect?

Highlighting the changes that can be expected as hotels and restaurants step up, Sarthak Gahlaut, founder and CEO of Feastly, told The Financial Express Online, “The COVID-19 pandemic shook the hospitality industry particularly hard and turned down several hotels and restaurant businesses across the world upside down. However, as the economy gradually opens, premium hotels and restaurants are also bound to gain traction but with a different avatar. As we have already stepped into this ‘new normal era’, the joy of eating out or staying in a premium hotel has changed. Given that health and hygiene and safety are key priorities, people will prefer a service that they can trust.”

Not all stakeholders are convinced that guests will venture out to hotels and dining in restaurants though the lockdown has lifted and hotels are now rolling out special offers and initiatives.

Kabir Jeet Singh, CEO & Co-founder of Burger Singh told The Financial Express Online, “Overall demand stands at around 78% of Pre-COVID levels, and that is significant considering the fact that people, in general, are not venturing out even after the lockdown was lifted. Home delivery orders are up by 13% in terms of revenue in comparison to Pre-COVID levels and takeaway is up by 21%. Dine-in has seen a sharp fall due to social distancing and stands at 60% at present.”

He further adds, “34 Burger Singh outlets out of 37 are operational, and the remaining three will open by the end of this month. Besides these outlets, we will also open 10 new outlets by November end or at the start of December. Even during the pandemic, we were able to establish new outlets in cities like Amritsar, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. We are aiming for 70 Burger Singh outlets by March 2021.”

From October 1, Radisson Blu MBD Noida has rolled out the red carpet for its guests with redefined safety protocols that encompass all services including F&B and room service operations. These services are now functional with strict adherence to guidelines issued for the hotel industry. Contactless services are a key focus area to enable safety of guests.

READ: Dining out or not? Delhi-NCR eating out places and restaurants are now open!

On its website, Lemon Tree Hotels has showcased an interview of Rattan Keswani, its Deputy Managing Director, sharing key insights. According to his statement to a trade publication as shown on the Lemon Tree website, the hotel has focused on day-use accommodation and work areas with business facilities and high WiFi connectivity.

The focus is to enable short stay guests and those who want to work in a clean and comfortable environment.

With the launch of its unique Rest Assured initiative, Lemon Tree Hotels have ensured the best safety and hygiene protocols across all 80 of its properties in India and abroad.

Deployment of robots to clean floors, pools

According to Rajeev Karwal, Founder, Milagrow Robots, “Since the onset of COVID-19, the hospitality industry has taken a backseat. With hotels and restaurants opening up, deployment of non-human devices is the need of the hour. From cleaning the floor, swimming pools to serving at restaurants and greeting at hotels, these little technological wonders (robots) can be the “new normal’ for maintaining proper social distancing, hygiene and constant monitoring.”

What other changes are already happening across premium and luxury hotels and fine dining restaurants?

“Menus have been redesigned, calibrating with people’s healthy food choices while offering a nutritious range of dishes,” Sarthak Gahlaut, founder and CEO of Feastly told The Financial Express Online.

A notable trend in the food and hospitality industry that Sarthak Gahlaut is bullish about is as follows, “The concept of boxed meals for individuals. With offices resuming operations, employees may be skeptical to share canteen space with co-workers or eat from local vendors. Keeping this in mind, several food players are helping employees with boxed meals or one pot meals. Automated machines to clean and cut vegetables are also likely to be picked up by the hospitality industry to maintain the safety measures.” For Indian travellers, this marks the beginning of a new era as they undertake the risk of traveling in ‘the new normal’.

Clearly, your next leisurely stay at a hotel is set for a big change right from the time you check in till your final check out.

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