In the process of a hotel stay, and increasingly even restaurant visits, many guests are beginning to expect human interaction as an option rather than a necessity. To cater to this (and in the coming weeks, to assure guests of their safety), public hospitality spaces will need to harness a variety of technologies that allow them to facilitate exchanges, and track user intent, without the need for human interaction.
Beginning with a push towards contactless payments as a standard, there is likely to be an uptick in the use of interactive digital signage, such as QR codes. When guests interact with the digital signage, usually via an app, data is picked up on the person doing the purchasing and their user intent, and their payment can then be facilitated – all without the need for human-to-human engagement.
Although COVID may fast-track their introduction on a more widespread scale, once installed, these systems are likely to remain in place for the longer-term future. If it is to be so, this may necessitate a permanent change in direction in terms of the way these spaces are designed. Restaurants may no longer require large areas for manned tills and surrounding space for queues. These zones could become much smaller – serving only as fallback options for the few without smartphones, and for the occasions when technology fails.
Hotel lobbies, too, may cease to be centred around the focal point of a grand reception desk, becoming characterised instead by online check in points, similar to those now found in airports. Whatever the rate of uptake, the way hospitality spaces are designed will likely require thorough reconsideration.