By Adam and Larry Mogelonsky

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Whenever we are recruited to audit a hotel’s tech stack or help evaluate solutions to meet a present need, there are always trade-offs. And one of the biggest is the time needed to implement – not just the vendor’s time to build the account or contending with supply chain delays for equipment but getting the API working, testing, training and best practices.

Nowadays, the IT team can be so hard-pressed for time that it’s often better to make do, find workarounds or function within the confines of the current territory because deploying anything else would be too difficult to set up or too much for the frontline teams to remember. This is the ‘human stack’ problem as we define it; or to scribe in another buzz term, you wouldn’t want to implement a ‘zombie platform’ that no one onsite ends up using after training is complete.

So, here we are heading into 2023 with a candy store’s worth of tech options. But one pandemic-born technology we’ve yet to properly explore is the QR (quick ready) code. Like them or hate them, technological determinism has concluded that they are here to stay for the next few years, so you might as well see what else you can do with them rather than reinvent the wheel.

As a start, stay conscious of four main advantages to the guest for these matrix barcodes. They are:

  1. Socially accepted which encourages further usage of the technology
  2. Convenient and frictionless after all the improvements made over the past two years
  3. Contactless and therefore safe for those still worried about physical distancing
  4. Relatively cheap where, once the setup is complete, print costs are minimized

Now, let’s ponder how to take your QR codes to the next level in 2023. These three are hardly an exhaustive list, but ones we can verify from recent tech analysis assignments to be very practicable for the guest and relatively easy to implement for the hotel.

  1. Incentivizing app downloads. Hotels want guests to use their apps because these apps tend to be great tools for increasing spend, expediting service requests and augmenting engagement for better GSS. But here in the 2020s, we’re all ‘apped out’ and thus resistant to yet one more company trying to cajole us into downloading yet one more mobile app. We need a spark, which QR codes can provide in the form of bespoke onsite offers – think happy hour drink promos advertised at the front desk – that automatically take customers to the app download page.
  2. Upselling and cross-selling. Building on the first point, several vendors now allow hotels to use QR codes to not only offer bespoke promotions that boost impulse buying, but the matrix barcode redirects can also be set up with a single sign on (SSO) so that customer authentication doesn’t act as a point of friction in the sales process. As an example, consider a QR code set up on the 15th or 16th hole at a golf resort with a message that encourages players to order ahead of time so that the total order is fully ready by the time they get to the clubhouse. Upon activation, the QR code takes users directly to the appropriate restaurant ordering page where, due to SSO mechanics from a previous interaction with the app, those users are already known, thereby enhancing data collection and personalization. The result is smoother service, faster food delivery and greater spend; everybody wins.
  3. Getting around OTA email aliases. Despite what hoteliers may say out in public, in private we all hate the OTAs. They’re stealing our business in more ways than one, foremost of which is the email aliases they use that stymie loyalty incentivization, remarketing campaigns and lookalike audience analytics. This is where QR codes present a nifty trick. Any app download or sign-on incentive can be programmed to require a real email (not an OTA alias) as well as the guest’s phone number for verification. Then, behind the scenes the phone number will be used to cross-reference and update a guest profile with their correct email.