Self-Service Opportunities: Six Rules for Maximizing Kiosk Value

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

Self-service technology continues to evolve and play a larger role in everyday life. Consumers routinely purchase airline tickets, buy groceries and scan bar codes using self-service technology. Guests also increasingly use self-service kiosks to check into hotel rooms around the world.

There's little doubt that consumers are comfortable with the technology. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Self-Service World revealed that less than 1 percent of respondents scored themselves 'low' regarding comfort level with self-service options. And the self-service trend is predicted to continue.

So, if you have not yet incorporated self-service check-in into your hotel, you probably should. Otherwise, you risk losing valuable opportunities to promote your image, establish your brand and enhance guest service. If you already have implemented kiosk technology, you will want to rethink how you are using it. You may have overlooked some of the ways you can maximize its value.

Benefits of kiosk check-in technology

Although mega-casino-resort properties and convention hotels - both of which process large numbers of guests in short periods of time - realize the greatest benefit using self-service kiosks, there are significant advantages for hotels of all sizes.

First and foremost, self-service kiosks expedite guest service by shortening lines at the front desk and performing all the basic functions of check-in and check-out, such as encoding and dispensing room keys and printing receipts. In a nutshell, they offer hotel guests choice, convenience and control.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.