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You’ve probably seen QR codes on many packaged products on your favorite grocery store or café and are probably wondering what they are used for? QR codes were believed to be obsolete until the novel coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe. Suddenly, they made a resurgence, and have turned out to be an innovative method of contacting business in 2020. We live in a technology-driven world, where the use of mobile phones has increased than any other year. This makes the implementation of QR codes easy than a few years back. However, even with their popularity, some small businesses are yet to implement the use of QR codes, and consumers do not fully understand its potential. In our post today, we take a closer look at QR codes and whether they are still relevant in 2020.

What are QR Codes?

QR is short for “Quick Response”. QR codes are 2D or two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned and read by a smartphone’s camera via a QR code scanning app. QR codes have several functions, like directing users to a website or giving users access to specific information. QR codes appear as black and white squares on marketing materials.

More recently, they appear outside restaurants to give consumers access to the menu in line with keeping social distance to help flatten the curve of the coronavirus infections.

Since almost everyone has a smartphone, QR codes have seen increasingly creative ways in their application. They are fast, easy, and touch-free, a fact that makes them even more useful in an era where touching surfaces is now dangerous.

Back in 2017, to use a QR code with your mobile device, you needed to download a special scanning app, and then use it to access the QR content. But, thanks to the rapid advancements in technology, both Apple and Android operating systems now come with integrated QR scanning systems in the camera app.

That means that as long as you have a phone, you can access lots of content instantly just by scanning a QR code. QR codes, unlike a standard bar code, provide the user with more information, including text, images, URL, geographic coordinates.

QR Codes Usage in 2020 The Hospitality Industry

QR codes are rapidly gaining traction in the hospitality sector as restaurants have started to reopen. Previously, before Covid-19 ravaged the human population, menus were passed physically to customers. But, since person to person contact is the main source of spreading the virus, hoteliers had to come up with a safer strategy.

Enter QR codes. Restaurants are now using them to link to their menus, adopting contactless digital menus. QR codes have now become commonplace in most restaurants, allowing customers to quickly access the foods that the restaurant is offering. And they come with a few advantages:

  • The menu can be updated to reflect foods as they are added or sold out.
  • They can also be updated to feature coupons and special offers.
  • QR codes don’t require customers to download and install a separate app, making the process simple, swift, and effective.
  • QR codes can also be used to handle contactless ordering and payment, in partnership with associated apps, like GoTab.

According to hotel owners, this new method of ordering food and making payments has won the hearts of many customers who are embracing it. One guest posted on Twitter how they didn’t miss paper menus at the Hilton Hotels in Shillim since the introduction of QR codes. She praises the new system, stating “I hope it stays this way.” QR codes are not only used for foods and drinks but also to access hotel booking information. Hospitality tech company Kallpod has launched its Kontactless platform that allows customers to place orders for food, drinks, and merchandise. Kontactless, which is used in select Hilton, Courtyard by Marriot, and Hyatt locations, doesn’t require customers to download an app, but rather uses QR codes to enable customers to place their orders and have them delivered to their location on the property.

Hilton hotels are making information about the CleanStay program available throughout the property by including QR codes on signage and notices. QR codes have also been adopted by Coca Cola company, which is the process of integrating the technology in their over 50,000 Freestyle machines distributed across the US, 75 percent located in restaurant venues. This upgrade allows for a contactless solution for customers seeking to have a refreshing drink from Coca Cola. Other QR code applications include:

  • Social media – Instagram now lets businesses give their customers scannable code printable of every marketing material to let customers visit their profiles.
  • Healthcare – China has been using QR codes to track and monitor citizens venturing out in public when entering and leaving a venue, along with their body temperature taken. QR codes are regarded as an effective method to enable contact tracing due to their versatility and flexibility.

QR Codes Are Here to Stay

The concept behind QR codes is simple – you scan a printed pattern with your mobile phone to get instant access to a webpage, social media profile, apps screen, digital menus, or other online experience. This seamless linking between the online and offline world means that QR codes have a better chance of success in 2020 than any other year. This is partly because it enables contactless solutions in a world reeling from the effects of the deadly Covid-19 outbreak and partly because of the major advancements in technology.

All images by Shutterstock

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