The world is quickly steering away from interpersonal interactions and barreling towards automation. The hospitality industry will be among the early adopters to embrace automation as quickly as possible.
Hotel automation describes the use of technology to eliminate the need for direct interaction with other people. Before 2019, hotel automation was perceived to be a threat to the gainful employment of hotel staff and a warning of doom for many careers in hospitality.
Hotel automation benefits the property directly, with cost reduction due to reduced staff and increased revenue. However, in a post-pandemic world, the benefits of automation demand consideration for new reasons beyond cost savings and efficiency – the expectations of the post-pandemic guest are laser-focused on the assurance of both cleanliness and safety. Hotel automation is the key to reassuring guests that your hotel is investing in their safety.
The check-in desk is one amenity likely to be eliminated due to the pandemic. The usage of staff at the front desk is nothing if not inefficient. The classic Front Desk model involved tasking a limited staff responsible for answering phone calls, assisting guests, and checking out departing visitors, all while managing an ever-expanding queue of inbound guests waiting to be checked in. Throw in a mix of guests who wear masks and those who reject the practice, all lined up 6 feet apart, and it is easy to see how inefficient this model has become.
Remote check-in is the most elegant solution for the post-pandemic traveler. Although it requires an investment in keyless entry for all accommodations, guests can use remote check-in to go directly to their room without interacting with the front desk staff. Remote check-in also frees up your human resources and allows for the reallocation of front desk staff into more efficient and valuable roles.
Digital Service Requests
Anyone who uses a smartphone is familiar with using apps for virtually any aspect of daily life management. The pandemic has trained us all to use apps and smartphones to request a wide range of services from grocery shopping to restaurant reservations and so much more. It is no stretch to add hotel service requests to that list of app-enabled services.
Guests can freely chat with hotel staff using an app on their smartphone or through in-room smart apps, all without the need for contact. Requests for room service, cleaning staff, maintenance, etc., are all accessible by the guest without visiting the front desk.
Nearly all apps designed for this purpose are highly customizable, allowing you to control the amount of access your guests have to your staff.
For example, a limited menu of options may only offer room service and general FAQs. At the same time, a more robust offering might allow guests to submit maintenance requests directly to the maintenance staff or request fresh towels at the poolside.
The classic model where the guest contacts the front desk for assistance is highly inefficient than digital service requests that automatically route tasks to the appropriate staff for immediate follow-up.
Pre-Arrival and Personalization
Although technology is perceived as impersonal and cold, modern guest technology allows for greater personalization and guest satisfaction. Hotels can provide their guests with online personal profiles via the resort website or app that tracks their needs and preferred services.
Pre-arrival details can be gathered to ensure the guest’s stay meets all expectations. Once collected, this information is perfect for loyalty programs, marketing efforts, and providing a personalized experience upon each return visit. Once you understand your guest’s needs, you can exceed their expectations at every turn.
The Automation Payoff
Hotel automation is an investment. There are hard costs associated with implementing an automation scheme, and the more effort devoted to the implementation, the better the guest experience. Yet, once integrated into your current processes, the investment begins to yield results almost immediately.
Your staff can be reallocated to serve the guest’s needs better. You can better track their needs and allow for a better degree of personalization. Guest data allows for future marketing efforts and ongoing communication with the guest. Efficiencies are abundant when exploring hotel automation.
Guests, both first-time and return, will note and appreciate the attention you’ve given to streamlining their experience from check-in to check-out. Efforts to ensure their safety in a post-COVID reality will not go unnoticed. And, the mitigation, if not elimination, of any stress related to non-safety compliant guests will reduce the emotional toll COVID has taken on front-line hospitality staff.
The world is emerging after a year of isolation and fear of COVID-19. Like most businesses, the hospitality industry was not prepared for the impacts of a global pandemic. An investment in hotel automation and the reduction of human contact is the absolute best way to prepare for any unforeseen surprises that might lie just over the horizon.
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