The conversation around technology in the hospitality industry has been one with many different perspectives. While it seems that more “traditional” hoteliers appreciate customer service and guest interaction that is more hands-on, face-to-face and feel it produces a greater success rate in terms of the bottom line, there also seems to be many hoteliers who feel that incorporating technology has made quite a difference to their customer service in a positive way that has created an altogether new and improved experience that both hotel staff and guests appreciate.
Even before hotels began utilizing advanced technology, guest complaints have always been an inevitable expectation for hoteliers. This expectation remains intact and, even with many upgrades, will outlive any innovative technology that comes along. It is likely that guests that are not too familiar with self-service technology or how to use it will complain about it. This is where balance comes into play and full awareness of the fact that guests appreciate having a choice becomes a key factor in regards to the guest experience.
“Modern” travelers that prefer using self-service kiosks to check-in, or even a hotel app that allows them to check-in before they step foot on the property, will most likely have little to no issues navigating their way through the technical steps. Therefore, minimized lines at the front desk ensure guests can start their vacation sooner, with fewer hassles. Offering the option of self-service still leaves room for guests who prefer speaking to an actual person when they check-in. Because a portion of guests checking in and out are less likely to need any assistance, hotel staff will be able to focus more time and effort on guests that do need assistance and are more likely to feel less overwhelmed by incoming and outgoing traffic in the lobby.
Make it easy and interactive
As the “lobby as a destination” trend continues to flourish, it’s important for hoteliers to keep up with the latest technological trends that make a huge difference when it comes to the overall guest experience. Incorporating tech-based community spaces or tech lounges in the lobby with quick and efficient self-service technology is a great way to help guests feel in control. For example, implementing a self-service kiosk in the market would allow guests — and locals that might prefer the hotel lobby to their usual workspace — to purchase food and beverage items without having to rely on hotel staff to check them out, especially in cases where they’re in a rush to get back to what they were doing. Furthermore, hotel staff might have to stop working on a strenuous task like inventory management just to check a customer out. This suddenly becomes more time consuming and costly than necessary all while offering a lower standard of customer service.
Self-service technology can also be a fun, interactive experience for younger guests. Younger guests can purchase items on their own and charge it to their room — allowing parents to continue relaxing poolside while making young guests feel a sense of independence — an experience most won’t not forget. This doesn’t mean that there will be no guest-staff interaction. Hotel staff can assist in what younger guests or any guests might need while still minimizing the length of each checkout. Making it easier and more interactive for guests of all ages leads to increased positive reviews, which, in turn, leads to increased GSS scores and Revenue for the property as a whole.
More time to focus on what’s also important
Aside from guest satisfaction, there are a lot of other elements and tasks within the hospitality industry that play a pivotal role in ensuring a continuous revenue stream and success for properties. With self-service technology, hoteliers have the ability to make sure their staff can carry out day-to-day tasks that may require more focus and less distraction. Tasks such as refund inquiries, housekeeping, scheduling, and inventory could be taken care of faster and more efficiently.
Allowing guests to be more in control of their hotel experience also gives hoteliers the opportunity to focus more on internal staff training and the overall well-being of their employees. Ensuring that hotel staff has all of the tools and resources they need to not only succeed in their daily work but also provide the highest levels of communication and customer service, results in guests feeling like they are actually being heard and valued. With potentially decreased amounts of overwhelming guest interactions, hotel staff might also have a more positive attitude and outlook on their position. In return, this can result in a decrease of employee turnover. Being able to interact for shorter periods of time and having an appropriate amount of training to assist with complaints — whether it be general or tech-related — ultimately adds value to the hotel.
While it’s understandable that many hoteliers assume that adding self-service technology might take away from strong customer service and overall guest satisfaction, it may actually strengthen it. By allowing people to create their own experiences through self-service and being able to focus more on people that still prefer face-to-face interaction with hotel staff, you are creating an environment for guests — no matter the preference — where they have a choice. Self-service technology is a great way to ensure that guests experience the hotel in a more modern, unique way and can save time that can be utilized to ensure long-lasting success of hotels and employees alike. Implementing modern, innovative technology in hotels does not necessarily equate to more or less positive reviews for hotels nor does it guarantee an increase in GSS scores. However, ensuring a balance between traditional and technological customer service can make an invaluable difference in terms of the bottom line.