Over the challenging past 12 months, the hospitality industry has identified, analysed and completely reinvented the guest journey with the new normal in mind. Given the current state of business hotels are facing due to Covid-19, the common problems at each step of this journey are focused on easing communication, providing social distancing measures, reducing physical touchpoints, and maintaining regulations and brand standards.

In each of these instances, mobile technology and its capabilities are at the forefront of providing effective solutions. This article walks through each stage of the guest experience and addresses mobile features that hotels need to consider for guests and staff to stay safe, comfortable and healthy.

Before breaking down each step of the journey, the first prominent mobile technology to introduce is an app for guests to access hotel services from their smartphone or tablet. A mobile app can be used throughout the entire pre-stay, stay and departure process. Many brands have already implemented this, but the significance of contactless services and social distancing has elevated the value of an app from just an added convenience. For hotels that already have an app, the importance of it working seamlessly and incorporating a range of features is critical.


The guest pre-arrival process begins with booking and includes contacting the hotel with any special requests, receiving communication and confirmation, planning an itinerary, and receiving reservation updates, pre-arrival communication from the hotel and remote check-in options. Many aspects of the pre-arrival portion of the journey are, and will continue to be, communicated via mobile technologies outside of a hotel app. Email and SMS are generally used for booking confirmations, food and beverage reservations and any other requests or changes. Not all guests favour the same platform, so communicating through the same booking method and duplicating confirmations across multiple platforms is recommended. Before guests arrive, they should have the ability to view a map of the hotel, request luggage assistance, retrieve airport shuttle information and search for available amenities to prebook or purchase on-site, using either a mobile app or web-based platform. Additionally, in the pre-stay stage, guests should be able to check-in remotely to reduce congestion at the front desk or hotel lobby.

Arrival process

All elements of the pre-arrival process directly affect the flow of the arrival process. If the guest has performed a remote check-in via a mobile app, they can go straight to their room, reducing the need for contact and speeding up the process for other guests that need to use the front desk or self-service kiosk.

Since the guest’s arrival doesn’t involve additional mobile platforms, it is worth mentioning the technology that visitors to a hotel are now likely to experience when entering the lobby. This could include temperature checks, security cameras for crowd monitoring and face mask detection, cleaning technologies and digital signage.

In-room experience

In addition to mobile keys, which are becoming more widely used, guests can use an app to control features in the room, including the TV, thermostat, lights and curtains. Guests can also use their phone to set an alarm, make calls or contact room service, reducing the need to touch as many items in the room during their stay. Although hotels have undoubtedly stepped up their cleaning protocols, it is still recommended that guests try to limit the number of items they touch in the room.

Two-way communication between the guest and the hotel can be easily conducted through an app, whether this is done via a chatbot, video or audio call. All options reduce the need for guests to leave their room, avoiding contact with other visitors or staff. Handling any queries through an app also eliminates the need to touch the in-room phone.

Access to amenities

Mobile apps allow guests to receive communications, capacity management alerts and other policies of the property’s offered amenities. Apps can be used to communicate hotel information, including descriptions of services and amenities and details of cleaning policies and procedures.

Easing the access of amenities can even include contactless elevator controls to reduce touchpoints in high-traffic areas of the hotel. A guest can grant the hotel app access to deliver push notifications for communication in real-time. These messages may remind a guest their spa appointment is in 20 minutes or track their location via access points to offer a discount for a nearby restaurant.

Food and beverage

Using a hotel app, a guest can make reservations, pre-order food and drink, be notified when their pick-up order or dine-in table is ready, provide payment details and more. At a restaurant, bar or pool, the use of QR codes for menus and billing has grown tremendously over the past year. This is only likely to increase further in the hotel and travel sectors as the technology becomes more ubiquitous. QR codes reduce touchpoints and allow guests to use their own device to view menus, order, view allergy and nutritional information and process payments.

Departure and beyond

The guest departure process includes preparing for vacating the room, checking out and leaving the property. The departure aspect may include virtual queuing or separate check-in and check-out desks, and there are also mobile technologies that can be used to ease the process. Allowing a guest to access their bill on a mobile app, in-room TV or voice assistant, or through a tablet provided by the hotel, gives visitors time to review any additional charges from their stay. This minimises the amount of time they need to spend at the front desk, reducing the amount of traffic in the hotel lobby. There are also a number of alternative contactless check-out options, including using a virtual front desk, digital kiosks, a chatbot, in-room voice assistant, TV, phone or tablet.

One final useful piece of mobile technology for the departure process is an online airport transportation booking option, where guests can track the service and pay all in one place.

While a mobile app can be utilised for the guest’s entire stay to reduce physical touchpoints, it can make communication more difficult if it is unreliable, slow or difficult to use. If a mobile platform is ineffective, this will increase the need for guests to seek out in-person help from hotel staff.

A mobile application is supposed to ease the experience for guests, but hotels need to put the work in and make sure it does exactly that. We all know that free Wi-Fi doesn’t benefit us when we need to reconnect every few minutes. Hotels need to ensure their mobile applications are user friendly and responsive, provide up-to-date information and incorporate a range of features so guests have an enjoyable and safe experience and are encouraged to return again.