Article by Seth Rubenstein
Executive Director U.S. & Canada at Multimedia Care*
No industry has ever conquered a year as unique, as transformative, as uncomfortable as 2020.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in an engaging webinar on present-day hospitality safety perception alongside three other industry leaders – Burcin Turkkan, Director of Membership Development, Strategy & Innovation from Skål International Official; Wendy Hoekwater, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales Operations at Apple Leisure Group; and Chris Holter, Vice President Revenue Management for Caribbean Latin America at Marriott International. Throughout the conversation, we discussed four principal components:
- The reality of re-opening and its impacts on business continuity.
- The role of technology in encouraging guest confidence to return to hotels and restaurants.
- Creative ways to reduce risk and liability while keeping businesses afloat.
- Predictions on what the next few months will look like for the industry.
As the country navigates the COVID-19 global pandemic, many states put a sense of trust into the industry at-hand to decide upon the best course of re-opening action for the company, the employees, and the community at-large. Taking a look at the hospitality industry, restaurants have incorporated outdoor dining experiences and lowered seating capacities, while hotels have started to once again welcome guests for the holiday season.
That was step one.
Step two, on the other hand, is a bit more complex. Businesses have re-opened, but after months on-end of quarantine, venturing back out into the industry is not a simple decision. To be frank – traversing hospitality business continuity amid the COVID-19 landscape hasn’t been easy. But technology has made it a bit smoother.
Not surprisingly, a theme that surfaced repeatedly throughout the conversation was the impact of technology as an agent of change for the industry. COVID-19 has fast-tracked the infusion of technology in restaurant and hotel operations. The new normal is still quite uncertain – it changes day-in and day-out, but something that will never change is the need for people to feel comfortable, confident, safe and secure. People expect technology to be part of this equation. By implementing contactless, hands-free solutions that scan for overall wellness and allow guests to interact virtually, businesses can begin to leverage this equation to their advantage.
And it will be key for businesses to continue to leverage such solutions, well beyond this year, as technology can be a platform to build upon greater depths of engagement. Hand-held temperature readers are effective in the short-term, but replacing this with a full-service solution that not only reads guest temperature, but allows them to engage digitally, such as our Multimedia Care Health Checkpoint, is how we can look toward the future – simultaneously automating the process and providing a full customer experience.
Burcin, Wendy, Chris and I all recognize the challenge that comes with planning for the next year in the hospitality industry, let alone the next five years. The industry is changing as we speak. As the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines continue to make strides across the country, contactless technologies can also help companies navigate the imminent phased-out vaccination period – the upcoming months in which vaccinated and non-vaccinated people will undoubtedly come into contact by living daily life. Such technologies can help ensure that anyone who enters any given facility has been equally health-screened, allowing guests to feel confident and enjoy the industry pre- and post-vaccination.
The reality is simple – people miss traveling. People miss enjoying a bite to eat with friends. People miss interacting with loved ones. And people want to stay healthy. By spotlighting preventative measures, innovative tech tools and contactless solutions in the long-term, hospitality leaders inspire guests to feel assured that the industry is evolving in a positive and safe direction.
*Seth Rubenstein is the Executive Director for the United States & Canada at Multimedia Care, leading the strategic planning and application of the MULTIMEDIA Care suite of products across both regions, driving commercial initiative, new customer acquisition, and customer success. Seth has more than 30 years of strategic business development experience across human resources, strategic alliances and SaaS sales.
Prior to his role with MULTIMEDIA Care, he led a variety of positions across the information technology industry, spanning from the director of business development and global partner engagement for IoT Remote Monitoring & Management platform Domotz in Smyrna, Georgia, to the director of business development at computer software company Ihiji in Austin, Texas, and beyond.
A revenue-driven and team-oriented professional, Seth holds a Master of Education from Penn State University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara.