Prepared by: Mustafa Al-Zoubi
The coronavirus has altered technological developments worldwide, and much of this technological advancement has been driven by early pandemic pressures for contactless payments, food services, and more. For example, between February and March 2020 alone, MasterCard International, a US credit card payment system company, saw the number of contactless payments in grocery stores twice as fast as contactless transactions. Meanwhile, the number of restaurants operating on Uber Eats orders increased by more than 75% between December 31, 2019 and the same date in 2020.
Technological developments in travel, hotels and applications have been a part of this change as travel has become a way that most travelers find very useful. Whether it’s shortening waiting lists, helping travelers save money or eliminating the need to get close to others, in the following lines we look at 6 ways technology has evolved in 2020 is one of the most important changes due to COVID-19.
1- Applications for hotel booking and room choice
Most of the major hotel chains have always had free applications with features like booking and live chat, but many of them have recently received major improvements.
Last summer, Hilton introduced a feature that allows you to book and confirm instantly linked rooms on the app and website, which has proven particularly useful for groups.
The hotel application can display a map of the hotel and allow you to select the exact room of your choice, whether it is the quiet room furthest from the elevator or the room closest to you for easy access.
2. Smart devices like digital room keys
Some applications serve as a digital reception desk, which then allows you to use your smartphone and smartwatch as digital keys. For example, the numeric keys in the Hyatt Hotels mobile application use Bluetooth technology to enable you to unlock your hotel room with your phone at more than 600 hotels around the world.
Last December, it made life easier for Apple users by becoming the first hotel brand to offer room keys at Apple Lite. In some of its hotels, you no longer have to open the Hyatt app. Instead, you can tap or watch your Apple phone to unlock rooms.
Hilton also introduced digital keys in 2015, but last year a major update took place with “digital key sharing” technology, enabling more than one guest to digitally access the key. The feature is currently available at approximately 80% of Hilton hotels worldwide.
The Rise of Virtual Queens
In January, Alker announced a secure identity platform that stores individuals’ personal information and links it to biometric data, enabling them to bypass travel document controllers at security checkpoints using fingerprints or iris identification. A certain security in crowded areas, including stadiums and airports, that it has acquired another company designed to reduce waiting times, “Wi-Line”. The acquisition could enable Alker to improve virtual queues for operations, such as checking vaccine status or gaining access to airport lounges.
Meanwhile, last October, Disney introduced a feature in its American entertainment program called “Genie”, which is aimed at helping people in line to better plan their day.
4. Delivery applications for room service replacement
Food delivery applications have recently disrupted room service by delivering food from around the world and eliminating the need to pay $ 10 for a room service.
Hotels tend to like the idea of having other companies do business with them. For example, in 2021, Hyatt launched a pilot program with a snack delivery service, Go Puff, to deliver takeaway and hot meals to rooms at some of Hyatt’s hotels.
5. Food delivery at airports
Speaking of food delivery, it is no longer necessary to wait in long queues at airport restaurants. Applications like At Your Gate allow you to order, pay for and pick up food at participating airport restaurants.
And the app tests the services, so you do not even have to go to get food. Instead, the bots bring it to you. There’s a pilot program launched in September that includes robots that roam Los Angeles International Airport and bring food straight to your gate.
6. APP-powered car rental growth
The car rental industry has sometimes been difficult for travelers, but car sharing alternatives are expanding from time to time, giving consumers more choices.
A car can be booked by GetAround on an hourly basis, and it is not necessary to meet with the owner to exchange keys. Cars are reserved and unlocked by the application. GetAround expanded to Hawaii at the end of 2021.