Hotels Can Benefit From Self-Service Kiosks

By Tina Stehle Senior Vice President & General Manager, Agilysys Hospitality Solutions Group | May 19, 2010

Enhanced customer service, reduction to staffing costs, and a better utilization of hotel resources are just some of the hotel benefits obtained by successfully implementing self-service kiosks. Many customers are already accustomed to using self-service alternatives for airline check-in, rental cars and supermarket check-out. Today, customers are demanding the same convenience and ease of use in the hotel check-in process.

Changes in consumer attitudes and in the technology itself have brought about a general acceptance of self-service both in terms of ease of use and overall comfort level. Customers are demanding choices and convenience in order to maintain control over their experiences.

Self-service kiosks are changing what guests expect from their hotel experience and what hotel operators expect from their technology. The demand on many hotel operators is to run on thin margins while simultaneously having to address issues like systems integration, occupancy and customer service levels.

Self-service can boost guest satisfaction and hotel efficiencies when deployed well. Kiosk check-in and personalized service are not mutually exclusive. In fact, kiosk check-in is another avenue for hotels to provide a service alternative that an increasing number of guests demand. Not providing this alternative as a critical component of the hotel business strategy will only impact the guest satisfaction levels and may alienate well-traveled guests.

For hotel operators, the ultimate goal is providing guests with a high level of service. How that service is provided, be it through a quick and easy self-service experience or through interaction with someone at the front desk, is less important than the guest's satisfaction and the delivery of the desired service. Self-service can help hotels deliver that service efficiently, accurately and with high customer satisfaction. Service should not be defined by the amount of time guests spend waiting in line. Hotels face distinct periods of heavy activity. Those periods can be more efficiently handled by offering guests a self-service alternative.

Hotels ultimately want their agents to be less transaction oriented and more customer service oriented. Hotel guests now have a choice whether they want to visit the front desk or use the kiosk to expedite their arrival and departure. This translates to fewer agents behind the desk, allowing them to assist guests in other areas. With today's traveler exposed more and more to the do-it-yourself option, hotels can provide alternatives to their guests.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.