May 12 2016

Self-service: The Universal Crowd-pleaser [Podcast]

self-serviceOur smartphones are always with us, so it makes sense that a report conducted by TripAdvisor last year found that 34% (and rising) of connected travelers want mobile check-in – however it is thought that only 11% of hotels currently offer the time-saving convenience. Another report (by Software Advice) underlined the growing need to provide the option of self-service check-in; a combined 60% of respondents, across all demographics, stated that they are “more likely” to choose a hotel that allows guests to check-in with a smartphone than a hotel that doesn’t – so if that high percentage doesn’t shock you into providing self service check-in right now, I don’t know what would!

But why do we, the guests, the connected traveler, want self-service check-in so badly? One of the main, and non-technological reasons… we really don’t like to wait in line and there are even studies to back it up! Two years worth of data collated by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research supports our natural disdain for waiting in line. Their study found that we have a tolerance level or “break point” when it comes to delays – and depending on where you are from your tolerance for waiting could be a calm and breezy 30 minutes if you’re Japanese or if you’re from the US, well then, exceeding the “breaking point” of 5 minutes results in a 47% decrease in guest satisfaction!

Self-service check-in technology is available in other industries –the main comparison here is airlines. In 2013 data from Google’s traveler study, reported that 46% of leisure travellers (and 61% of business travellers) use a smartphone to check into their flight. In 2014 airline check-in using a mobile, kiosk or the web reached 38% of all check-ins, up from 28% in 2010 – some airlines reported achieving levels of self-service check-in as high as 50%! But aside from the airport, everyday use of check-in is commonly used for train tickets, the cinema, concerts and match entries etc.

So if you add our impatience, which has increased (exponentially) by our now on-demand society, which has been fueled by technology, coupled with the fact mobile self-service is available in everyday uses, we naturally want to check-in ourselves, using our smartphones, whenever it makes sense – and to us, hotels naturally fit that bracket.

You can see why guests are frustrated when self-service check-in is not provided as an option. “It’s not that they would choose [a hotel with] this technology over another—[rather,] they come in expecting it,” Hopper says. (Gene Hopper, Monscierge).

All these studies and reports indicate that by implementing a self-service option will not only meet your guest needs saving them time but will enhance the overall service level experience. “… self-service is the way to go. Not only will it please the customers of the hotels, it will even please the staff, as they will be able to do more important tasks such as greeting customers away from the front desk” Patrick Avery, Editor Kiosk Marketplace.

By Karen O’Neill, StayNTouch