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Balancing Hospitality and Automation: Enhancing the Guest Experience

In the ever-evolving landscape of the hospitality industry, where time is a precious resource and guest expectations are soaring, the role of technology and automation has grown increasingly pivotal. The utilization of purpose-built, automated software has emerged as a lifesaver, helping hoteliers manage both front-of-office and back-of-office tasks effectively. This transformation has been especially crucial in light of the ongoing staffing shortages, allowing hotels to streamline operations and uphold their reputations. However, a lingering concern remains – could the adoption of automation dilute the emotional and human element of hospitality?

The answer, it turns out, is a nuanced one. Cleverly implemented hotel technology can coexist harmoniously with the human touch, and it is possible to leverage automation without disconnecting from the essence of guest satisfaction.

The Guest’s Desire for Self-Service

Amid the ongoing staffing challenges, the demand for travel remains robust, with pent-up wanderlust commonly referred to as ‘revenge travel.’ In this scenario, guests come equipped with raised expectations, particularly for seamless and convenient self-service options. To cater to these evolving needs, hoteliers have been racing to bridge the gap with technology-driven solutions, and guests have swiftly adapted to integrating technology into their daily lives.

Studies, such as a 2020 Oracle Hospitality and Skift Research Report, have revealed that 71% of guests are more likely to choose a hotel that offers self-service technology. This sentiment is further supported by a Deloitte study, which found that 60% of travelers prefer hotels that offer contactless check-in options and smartphone-based room key access. In essence, guests today expect technology to be seamlessly integrated into their hospitality experiences, making it essential for hoteliers to embrace automated solutions.

The Changing Mindset of Hoteliers

Hoteliers who prioritize guest satisfaction now understand the importance of embracing technology to enhance the guest experience. The ongoing pandemic emphasized the gaps in tech stacks, pushing hotels to accelerate their adoption of solutions that their customers were clamoring for. It became clear what was missing and how existing technology could be better utilized.

Ways to Elevate the Guest Experience Through Automation

Today’s guests want to experience the same level of care and communication they would receive from a personal interaction with a hotel representative, all while enjoying the convenience of self-service options. Hoteliers can meet these expectations through a range of automated solutions at various stages of a guest’s journey:

1. Pre-stay:

  • Send booking confirmation emails with a pre-arrival message outlining the self-check-in process.
  • Use this communication channel to capture special requests and offer upsells tailored to each guest.

2. During stay:

  • Follow up with a post-check-in email to gather feedback on the self-check-in process and room satisfaction.
  • Send automated housekeeping messages to schedule cleaning or linen changes.
  • Offer mid-stay feedback surveys to assess guest satisfaction and address any issues promptly.

3. Post-stay:

  • Send automated self-check-out messages with instructions for checking out via mobile.
  • Follow up with a thank-you email and encourage guests to leave online reviews.

The diverse range of hotel tech solutions available necessitates careful consideration. Integration is a key factor, ensuring that these solutions work seamlessly within the existing tech stack. While no single solution can fulfill all a hotel’s needs, a well-integrated collection of cloud-based solutions provides the necessary data and functionality for success.

The Heart of Automation: Feedback Technology

To gauge the impact of automation on guest experiences, it’s vital to stay informed about how guests perceive these changes. Feedback technology plays a crucial role, delving deeper into guest demographics, preferences, and the reasons they chose your hotel. Moreover, it helps in enhancing your property’s reputation.

Here’s how feedback technology can catalyze your automation journey:

1. Upselling Guests:

  • Use tech to identify the sweet spot between spammy and timely offers.
  • Target offers based on direct feedback data, catering to guests’ needs.

2. Monitoring the Impact:

  • Leverage feedback management and online reputation tools to track the effect of automated solutions.
  • Use trend reports with milestones to assess the impact on your Net Promoter Score (NPS) and ratings.

Automation, like any other change, is a process of trial and error. It’s essential to research the options available, understand guest behavior, identify pain points, and explore opportunities for revenue growth. Feedback technology guides this process by pinpointing areas to address and ways to save staff time, ultimately improving the overall guest experience.

In a world where technology and hospitality coexist, the key is to strike a balance that enhances, rather than diminishes, the emotional and human element of guest satisfaction. Automation, when used thoughtfully, becomes a valuable tool in delivering exceptional experiences and keeping guests coming back for more.

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