Imagine a day without enjoying the hardware and software technologies. Their introduction and development mean speed, consistency, better control, usually lower costs and also reduced chances of human errors. Now imagine a hotel following the need of the modern traveler that actually uses technology in every aspect of everyday life. This article hopefully will provide an introduction and open a new perspective on the self-service technology within the hospitality & tourism industry.
The strengths and opportunities of self-service technologies in the hotel industry
The idea of allowing self-service at gas stations was considered a “radical change” in 1994. Much has changed since the New York Times labeled this as “a push from the Japanese big business trying to cut costs.” Nowadays, when we are busier than ever, our motto is a Queen song – “I want it all and I want it now”. While we are unwilling to wait for anything the remedy is to embrace technology and the power of self-service. None of us can imagine one day without ATMs and vending machines that relentlessly took over reduced person-to-person communication and provide speed and efficiency.
In the hotel industry, self-service is a new trend that took off in the past two decades. Some attribute the success to the big number of millennial travelers – a generation raised with technology and demanding it in almost all sectors of their lives. And it is not only the millennials anymore. Hoteliers now understand that guests are starting to prefer self-service options during their hotel stay. Online bookings and self-check-in kiosks at airports and hotels are already taking the world by storm thanks to the vast range of advantages. The biggest one being increasing guest satisfaction. A single touch on the screen means having a better and transparent view of availability, amenities, services, and prices. This “new way of traveling and staying in hotels” gives the guests a sensation of having full control of their stay and the planning of activities.
“Full” automation – what are the hotels gaining and losing along the way
Self-service technology is one of the top priorities in hospitality. Agreed! It does change the guest experience but raises other questions. Should service on-site be avoided and sent back to history? Is “full” automation the best option? Where exactly is the equilibrium between self-service and service on-site?
It is very clear that in the hospitality industry convenience is priceless! It all starts with the booking and continues with the check-in, but the final picture ends with the check-out. Until recently, many hoteliers were afraid that digital self-service would compromise the human aspect of the hospitality industry. But it is the 21st century and everything digital is an inseparable part of our lives. The automated check-ins, room selection, checkout, secure payments, etc. actually eliminate the clerical part of the job for the front office staff. And this is not a disadvantage but a great gain. It does not shorten the human interaction– it gives the staff tie time, energy, and accuracy to communicate with and serve the guest.
Leaving the check-in to automated processes by providing the guests the tools, gives the guests full control over their stay and plans. It is convenient, consistent, and fast. Guests can solve any common inconveniences if they are given the right tools. This spares time both for the guest and the hotel staff. It leaves no option for many solutions from different staff members that might have different approaches and experience. Also, more importantly, it leaves no place for inconsistency in the service. Yet, to the hoteliers, it still gives the time and opportunity to take a minute to give the guest the best service suiting their personalized profile and reduces the errors. Instead of checking all data before letting the guest into their room, we believe it is much better to spend time and energy on knowing our guest’s profile, providing quality recommendations, and giving the best service at our guests’ fingertips.
And another gain coming out from this is the reduction of the costs. Still, we do agree that some matters require “human assistance”, and that is why we need to underline that self-service does not mean a complete dismissal of the human resource.
We believe that self-service does not mean a lack of service. On the contrary. It can only contribute to the guests’ comfort and improve the experience. For many guests, check-in is a tedious procedure that is time-consuming. Why not turn the hectic rush into something more convenient, calm, private, pleasant, and much faster?! With a self-check-in procedure, the guest does not need to feel bad for arriving late at night or in the early morning hours. Also, most hoteliers today believe that greeting the tired guests after a long trip, while they still are dragging their suitcases, might not be the chance to leave a good impression.
Choosing the right strategic partner when digitally transforming your hotel
All of the mentioned above leads us to the key point – choosing the right partner when digitally transforming a hotel. One can say that the property management system is the central nervous system for any hotel. Having this in mind, there is no need of writing a novel to describe the importance of choosing an experienced company that is an expert in Hotel PMS. Living in the era of the rise of self-service in the hotel industry, imagine a software that does not allow the hotel staff to organize, schedule, and manage the daily operations. That would be such a disaster. Now imagine a piece of perfect machinery – an experienced company becoming your partner when you are in the rush to satisfy the guest’s needs when they say: “I want it all and I want it now”.
It is very important to remember that creating newer options for your guests and for your hotel does not instantly mean abandoning the old ones that used to work well. In simple words, a hotel PMS should be the helping hand that automates operations, connects easily to other software, saves man-hours, and helps serve guests better.