With more hotels adopting mobile and self check in kiosks the front desk experience is rapidly changing. One of the biggest concerns about automating the check in process is that it can diminish the experience for some hotel guests. Without the interaction between staff and guests, there are fewer opportunities to exceed guest expectations and prevent potential issues. While this is an issue the possible benefits of the hybrid front desk can far outweigh the negatives.
Initially there will be a learning curve to new technologies introduced into the hotel lobby. The less tech savvy may encounter issues that will require assistance from a desk agent, but as more people use mobile or self check ins these initial issues will begin to resolve themselves. It is important to begin defining the experience with these systems when the guest books their room. Depending on the sophistication of the software being used, guests may not have the ability to select room numbers or change room types. The limitations of these systems should be listed on the hotel’s webpage, or within the mobile app being used. Without this information, guests may be left to assume they will have much more flexibility and control when they go to check in and lead to a negative experience.
For issues like this, it’s important to always have a properly trained staff – even when more and more people are using the self serve options. Reducing staff is one of the easiest ways to reduce operational costs, but it can have the largest impact on the overall success of a hotel. Adding in kiosks to the front desk will inevitably reduce the workload of the staff, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as important as before. If anything their jobs should become busier. If they are now spending less one on one time with every guest of the hotel, have them place more emphasis on the interactions they do have.
As the popularity of self check in grows, the roles servicing the property should grow as well. Front desk duties can now include more comprehensive bell and concierge services that can add tremendous value to the property and lead to higher rates and occupancy. Guest satisfaction will also increase as the tech savvy and self sufficient guests will get the speed and efficiency that self check in can offer, while those dealing with the staff are building better relationships with the property.
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