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Investing in more technology is improving the hotel experience

Investing in more technology is improving the hotel experience
Technology is not only making it easier and more efficient for hoteliers to manage properties, it is also improving the guest experience.
Hoteliers aim to provide guests with the best possible experience, and in today’s ultra-connected world the incorporation of more high-tech services, like mobile check-in, is one way to do that.

Traditional check-in and check-out processes are built around an outdated administrative process, not the guest experience. In fact, a recent study from Cornell University revealed that guest satisfaction decreased by 50 percent with even a five-minute wait at the front desk. From the perspective of hospitality technology providers, understanding that hotels rely on their ability to meet and surpass the expectations of guests is crucial.

“Any investment or innovation in technology must come in the context of how that platform can improve the guest experience. Thus, guest-facing, self-service technology is less about ‘replacing staff with robots,’ and more about personalizing and enhancing the guest experience,” explained Nicole Dehler, VP of Product Management at StayNTouch, a Shiji Group Brand. “To put it another way, we tend to think less in terms of ‘high-tech versus high-touch,’ but rather how high-tech platforms can enhance high-touch service.”

“Modern, mobile property management systems (PMS) turn these processes on their head for the benefit of guests and staff alike,” Dehler explained. “A mobile-enabled PMS lets guests check-in from anywhere on their smartphone, or through a self-service smart kiosk in the lobby. If desired, both of these devices can automate each stage of the check-in process, from key production, to ID scanning, to payment processing.”

She also added that such a system can deliver targeted, automated opportunities for room upgrades and additional amenities — complete with vibrant images and product descriptions. This allows the guest to further customize and enhance their stay. Additionally, for a modest fee, guests can also choose an early check-in or late check-out time, all from the convenience of their smartphone.

Across the industry, hospitality technology providers are seeing an increase in demand for mobile solutions, such as mobile check-in, which is being driven by the desire for more mobile key functionality. Robert Stevenson, CEO of Intelity noted, “By fully automating mobile check-in and providing guests access to mobile keys, hoteliers are able to significantly reduce front desk friction, improve guest satisfaction, reduce operational costs and streamline their guests’ experience.”

Don’t expect staff-less hotels just yet

Brian Shedd, VP of Global Sales and Marketing at OpenKey pointed out that modern guests like using their smartphones to control more elements of their stay experience at hotels and hotels like reducing the overhead cost of staff. However, this does not mean that hotels are getting ready to replace the human element entirely with automation.
Brian Shedd, VP, Global Sales
and Marketing, OpenKey

“Running a hotel is a very complex undertaking and technology can only manage a fixed number of things,” Shedd said. “I think the future will see an extended use of technology in hotels to automate repetitive tasks such as check-in, check-out, room service and requests for things like extra pillows, etc., which will free up a smaller hotel staff to handle more complex guest requests and improve the hospitality element of the stay.”

The concept of “staff-less” hotels is also relatively new, so hotel operators are still testing a variety of options. “With respect to a staff-less check-in process, the most popular seems to be the combination of mobile key and kiosk to eliminate the need for a front desk interaction,” Shedd said.

In either case, using technology to eliminate, or significantly reduce, the staff headcount at the front desk allows the hotel to save on operational costs. Additionally, Shedd pointed out using a smartphone as a room key also improves guest security and eliminates plastic waste.

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