Hospitality can be known as the business of people, relationships, smiles and service. Hotels have always been characterised by kind people with big smiles helping you and ensuring you have a great experience.
But does that mean that automation has no place in a hotel?
We must first remember that technology has already claimed a place in the industry. Many accommodation businesses have implemented a cashless experience and a mobile-first approach and have seen a positive response to it.
However, when we start talking about automation, we can still see some doubts and people in the industry thinking that it might go too far and could imply losing control of the human element and interaction.
Especially if we talk about traditional hotels that want to maintain the essence of being a family business, it is common to have the misconception that automation will end that familiarity and what makes them special. But will it?
Automation might sound like a big word, but it means using technology to make some processes independent, with less manual interaction. This leads to saving time and makes things less complicated.
Does implementing automation in a hotel mean losing the personal touch?
The answer is: depends on how you do it.
Have you heard that balance is the key? Well, it applies to your hotel as well. As a hotelier, you must recognise areas where technology is necessary and can help you get better results.
However, you should also be able to recognise the non-negotiable tasks that are better with your staff in charge and personally taking care of. There are things you can replace and some others you can’t. Knowing the difference between those will allow you to implement a strategy that boosts your results without losing your business’ essence.
In other words, if you implement automation in the right way, you will:
- Create a better guest experience
- Have more guest engagement
- Increase guest loyalty
- Increase guest satisfaction
- Get more and better reviews
- Motivate your staff
- Become more efficient
- Free up time for tasks that can’t be automated
And you can notice that none of these lines mentions losing the personal touch or losing the relationship with your guests. On the contrary, you can eliminate the issues and bottlenecks stopping you from getting to know your guests.
How to implement automation in a hotel?
Let’s focus on practical examples to illustrate how you can do it.
Example 1: Contactless check-in
People are always complaining about having to wait before entering the room. This is a clear sign that contactless check-in is more than necessary (or at least, to give them the chance to check in digitally). This means using technology and automation to send a form to every guest before arrival. They can fill it out, arrive at the hotel and go to their rooms without any problem.
Example 2: Quick replies for FAQs
Guests will always ask even when you explain how to ask for more services, prices, and more. One common situation is having your staff spend their time answering those common questions instead of offering guests automated replies with the key information. It frees your staff and works faster, giving a better service to your guests.
Example 3: Extra services
One of the main sources of revenue for hotels is upselling. But what happens when your guests need to call reception whenever they want to add an extra service? If the reception staff is also in charge of check-in, booking confirmations and more, you will be confused and have more time wasted. Instead, guests could request extra services through messaging channels or a guest app.
None of these cases affected the personal touch or the opportunity to interact with the guests. In these examples, guests were cared for in a better way, with less effort for them, in a quicker manner, and making them happier.
How other hotels are doing it?
The team from Lindemann Hotels used automation to digitalise the whole guest journey. They automated the process to send out booking confirmations to different customer segments, which has helped them to save time and create a paperless experience for the guests. You can read more about their experience here.
On the other hand, the team from Citybox automated the check-in process so it would be paperless and with no waiting times at the counter. They also created quick replies to answer all guests’ enquiries in all their properties in an efficient way. Read more about their story here.
Finally, Northern Lights Village saves up to two hours of daily tasks by connecting their social media accounts into one channel and having a chatbot that takes care of the repetitive questions and engages with the users on the website in seconds. You can read their story here.
From independent to multi-property hotels with traditional or highly innovative concepts, using technology in your favour and the right areas will only help you to achieve better results, put your attention in the right place, avoid crises and grow your brand.