The fast progress in technology is rapidly changing the hospitality industry. It is gradually becoming a must for hotels to connect to their more and more tech-savvy guests at any time. The hospitality industry is prompted to offer higher levels of personalised experience like never before and meet the evolving expectations for value, quality, flexibility and responsiveness.
Some hoteliers have even taken a step further. Today there are unmanned hotels, or self-service hotels, where the only people are the guests. You may say it isn’t possible, but it is – at the Henn-na Hotel in Japan, guests are serviced by robots, and at the Buddy Hotel in Munich, guests are met by a hotel kiosk instead of a receptionist to assist them in their check-in, getting a room key, etc.
Is this the future? Is it here already? Arguably it may be, but the right question is “What is it?”. Can a hotel app replace the human factor in the hospitality industry?
We can surely say that this new type of hotels is an example of extreme digitalization in the search for competitive differentiation or a low-cost business model. But the fact remains that use of various hotel apps and hotel kiosks is on the rise across the hospitality industry.
Similarly, with the launch of Clock Software’s new hotel self-service check-in kiosk, the first few beta machines were shipped in just a week, such high demand already exists. Recent surveys show the main driving force behind this phenomenon is the strive for boosting guest service and satisfaction. With a hotel kiosk or a mobile hotel app, the options for guest engagement can now encompass every aspect of a guest’s journey, from booking a room and checking in to the use of various extra services and checkout.
And all this hotel self-service technology doesn’t necessarily replace the manned front desk. On the contrary, it can supplement it. Guests not only have a greater direct control over their stay at their fingertips, but can effectively skip all tiresome queuing in line at the front desk. But that’s not all. Nowadays guests can use a mobile hotel app or hotel kiosk to:
- Select a preferred room
- Opt for an upsell of a room or package or extra services
- Complete their registration cards in advance
- Check in and get their room key cards
- Check and settle hotel and restaurant bills
- Use digital concierge and get real-time content with weather and flight information, entertainment options, local event updates, area maps, etc.
- Get in touch with the hotel staff via a real-time messaging service, e.g. Do not disturb or Clean room requests, etc.
- Leave their feedback or review about their experience in the hotel.
When all the boring formalities of a check-in are addressed in a few clicks by the guest themselves, a receptionist can have much more time to properly attend to the various other guests’ needs, with more ‘human touch’ too. The result of this teamwork between hotel personnel and technology is more than positive – it is a success story of elevated guest experience and greater than ever sense of customer loyalty to the brand. The face of the hospitality industry is rapidly changing for the better as it retains one of its key components – the unique personal touch of the various hospitality brands.