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How the latest technologies are making hotels more efficient

How the latest technologies are making hotels more efficient
The addition of smart kiosks, in-room tablets and even guest service robots are helping hotels run more efficiently by freeing up hotel staff to focus on other tasks.
A survey of more than 1,200 hoteliers conducted by Expedia found that among the top investment priorities of chain hotels is increasing the tech budget. Hoteliers hope increasing tech spending will improve productivity, repeat visits and the guest experience.

Nicole Dehler, VP of Product Management at StayNTouch, a Shiji Group Brand expects that the Internet of Things (IoT) will revolutionize hotel customer service, security and room operations. “On one level, it helps hotels automate processes and save resources,” she said. “More significantly, IoT can also usher in an era of unprecedented personalization, with almost every object in a hotel room adjusting to a guest’s needs, preferences and preferred devices. Once established, these preferences can form the basis of an even more robust and nuanced guest profile, which can then be used to develop hyper-targeted messaging and offers.”

She also pointed to the use of artificial intelligence (AI), saying, “The ultimate goal of emerging AI will be to allow hoteliers to act on intelligence for multifaceted guest profiles in real time. AI will be able to analyze everything from a guest’s web and purchase history, to location data and IoT device interactions, to more subtle interactions such as conversational patterns with chatbots. The result will be a merging of customer service and data-analytics to create guest experience which is truly seamless and hyper-personalized.”

Reducing staff with kiosks, robots, tablets

Almost all hotels are automating at least some of its operations in order to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Robert Stevenson, CEO of Intelity noted that some of the latest technologies in this space are centered around guest service robots, like those seen at the YOTEL brand of properties; AI-driven ticketing, which uses machine learning to route guest requests to the appropriate department for fulfillment; and continued guest tracking and automation for improved guest experience and service.
Robert Stevenson, CEO, Intelity

In-room tablets are also gaining popularity to assist in automating the in-room experience for guests. According to Dehler, this trend is especially prevalent in the boutique, casino and independent brand sectors. Hotels in competitive locations are implementing in-room tablets as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition and elevate the guest experience.

Tablets are being used to streamline in-room dining, provide guests with an on-demand connection to staff, automate service requests, reservations and other guest requests, and give guests control over their in-room environment through IoT functionalities,” Stevenson explained.

“Not only do tablets automate the in-room experience for the guest, with things like room controls or by putting entertainment and news at their fingertips, but they also relieve the staff hours that are required to process guest requests. Additionally, implementing in-room tablets reduces the maintenance and cost of printed in-room collateral (e.g., compendiums, in-room dining menus, etc.),” he added.

Hotels are also using smart kiosks to transform lobbies into a guest-centric communal spaces. “When you remove the front desk — and its accompanying check-in lines — you can build your lobby around coffee shops, wine bars and lounges, or around functional co-working spaces,” Dehler said.

Voice technology is also gaining traction in both guest-facing and staff-facing parts of the hotel; although, rates of adoption are not as high as other forms of automation and is very property specific.

Voice technology, though, can be used to process guest requests and automatically route them to the correct department to be fulfilled. Voice assistants, such as Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa, as well as AI-enabled chatbots could vastly improve guest convenience by adding additional ways to order services and communicate with staff.

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