All posts by Monique Manning

How to Meet the Demand of a Generation That Travels More

Hotels and resorts know they need to win over millennials’ hearts and minds. But where to begin? That is the question. In this blog, we will help you better understand the unique needs, expectations, and attitudes that millennials hold. We will provide actionable insights and strategies that will enable you to effectively target, attract, and convert millennials into loyal and profitable guests.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 83.1 million millennials living in the U.S. today. With $200 billion in annual buying power, hotel operators can’t afford to ignore this large and diverse generation. However, millennials are a unique breed, a different specimen then we’ve seen before. They seek a different type of travel experience than their parents and grandparents enjoyed. So, who are the millennials and what makes them tick?

When we talk about millennial travelers, those born between 1981 and 1997, we’re talking about people who today are in their 20s or 30s.

They take on average 35 days of vacation every year. And unlike other generations that are curtailing their travel expenditures, millennials are increasing the amount they spend on travel. (So is the even younger Generation Z, which is on the rise.)

In fact, in a recent survey of millennials, 33 percent said they would be willing to spend over $5,000 on travel.

The millennial generation is very discriminating and particular in terms of what businesses and brands they support. They know what they like, and what they don’t like.

Here are a few examples:

Technology

Millennials are, first and foremost, members of the Smartphone generation.

They were raised on the internet and social media. Their perception of your hotel or resort will initially be defined by their digital experience. Millennials value convenience, speed, and efficiency. They are the instant gratification generation.

Consider these data points:

  • 73 percent saying they check the company’s social media feed before booking
  • 75 percent of millennials have booked travel via a mobile phone
  • 87 percent of millennials use between two and three tech devices on a daily basis
  • 46 percent use their smartphone or tablet to make travel reservations
  • 97 percent post their experiences on social media

Authentic Experiences

Millennial travelers crave unique and authentic experiences that they can share, in real time, with their friends and followers via their favorite social media sites.

Whether they are visiting the local sights or enjoying a local craft beer by the hotel pool, millennial travelers are all about the experience. Those hotels that consistently provide a personalized and value-added experience will earn the trust and loyalty of this important customer segment.

Price

Given that millennials tend to hold off getting married and starting a family, they possess more discretionary income compared with other customer segments. And even better, millennials like to use that extra income on travel.

But because they began their professional careers in the aftermath of a financial crisis, millennials also tend to be budget-conscious travelers; while authenticity is important, price is also a factor.

In a survey by Expedia Group, more than 90 percent of millennials indicated that, when it comes to hotel bookings, they won’t make a purchase until they have done extensive research and secured the very best price.

Millennials are not opposed to spending a good amount of money while traveling. It’s just that they would prefer to spend their discretionary income on experiences that they value instead of accumulating ordinary souvenirs from their travels.

Causes

Millennials take pride in being environmentally conscious travelers. Sustainability is one of their core values.

Millennials tend to seek out hotels that incorporate green practices and policies.

According to the Booking.com travel report, a solid majority of international travelers (55 percent) reported that they seek out travel options that promote sustainability and 73 percent indicated their intention to patronize an eco-friendly hotel in 2019.

Targeting Millennials

Research by Elite Daily and Millennial Branding indicates that marketing to millennials through conventional advertising may be a waste of time and budget. In their study, only 1 percent of millennials reported being persuaded by a corporate advertisement and less than 3 percent said TV news, magazines and books were a factor in their purchase decisions. Meanwhile, 84 percent said they simply don’t trust traditional advertising at all.

On the other hand, 62 percent of millennials say they are more likely to give their business to a brand that is visible on social media. Hotels, then, can convert millennials into loyal customers by engaging them on social media with personalized information and offers.

If you’re not currently participating on social media, it’s time to make the commitment. Consider this: The younger Generation Z, as you might expect, is even more accustomed to the social media universe than are millennials.

Living in the Now

Because they are younger and less tied down, millennials have a luxury that the rest of us don’t have — spontaneity. According to one survey, 49 percent of millennials said they partake in last-minute vacations. A study by Google and Phocuswright concluded that 60 percent of U.S. travelers were open to a spur-of-the-moment trip if they found the right deal.

The takeaway: Hotels that tempt millennials with enticing last-minute deals will be rewarded.

Is your property positioned to meet the needs of the millennials? If it’s not, consider these strategies:

Strategies & Solutions

1.Cater to the mobile traveler

If you haven’t already, commit to going digital and investing in a mobile-centric environment.

2. Create enhanced guest experiences

For example, create authentic gathering places for guests to congregate, connect with each other, decompress, and plan their next move.

Cookie cutter experiences turn off millennials. They want local, authentic, and personalized  experiences. This could translate to using locally grown ingredients in your restaurant, featuring locally brewed craft beer at your bar, or adorning your hotel environs with art created by local artists.

3. Engage on social media

This is how brands build trust with millennials. It’s not enough to have a presence on social media — you need to engage with travelers by being responsive, helpful, and fun.

Millennials don’t want to receive a sales pitch on social media. Use it to build relationships and to personalize and humanize your brand.

4. Leverage technology

The millennials are coming, the millennials are coming!

If you are concerned about your ability to meet the increased demand from the (sometimes) demanding millennials, just remember that technology is your friend.

Did you know that among U.S. travelers surveyed, 44 percent told hotel.com that they would be willing to check themselves in at a hotel kiosk?

Then why not deploy self-service software to save money and simplify time-consuming processes like check-in? What’s more, consider adding check-in kiosks in the lobby and eliminating the front desk altogether. Streamlining the check-in process will endear you to millennials, who think manual check-in is unnecessary and cumbersome in the digital age, and a waste of their precious time.

Also, invest in the latest technologies. Keyless entry, mobile payments, smart TVs (with Netflix of course!), and smartphone charging ports will put you in good stead with the millennials. Without these bells and whistles, they feel lost.

5. Data is your friend

Hotels and resorts can’t offer guests personalized service if they don’t know each customer’s particular wants and needs. Here enters the importance of data.

With an insight-driven PMS system like StayNTouch, hoteliers have at their fingertips everything they need to add value and fulfill each customer’s expectations, including a guest profile, booking history and social media accounts. If given the right technology, any member of your staff will be empowered to proactively craft a data-driven, unique experience for every guest.

6. Offer cool perks

Add value and convenience by surprising your guests with Uber credits at check-in. That way, they can get a start seeing the sights without delay. Millennials are notoriously impatient and this small gesture will create more goodwill for your property than you know.

Powerful WiFi, these days, is a non-negotiable. And free breakfast — Hello Instagram — doesn’t hurt.

Consider the market size of the millennial generation, its enormous purchasing power, and its penchant for planned and spontaneous travel. Hotels and resorts that aren’t properly positioned to serve this customer segment are depriving themselves of a big revenue stream.

The most effective way to target millennials is to build an authentic brand in the social space. Show them that you share their values. Earn their trust.

By providing an authentic experience that is digital, convenient, seamless, and always customized, your hotel or resort can earn the loyalty of this important customer segment.

How to Embrace Technology That is Shaping Millennial Travel

In our always connected world, Millennials are much savvier when it comes to using tech for travel. Gen-Y grew up immersed in technology and their smartphones have become an extension of who they are – it’s part of their DNA. In fact, on survey found that 80% of Millennials sleep right next to their smartphone. They have used and relied on personal devices their entire lives and as a result have certain expectations regarding mobility and connectivity.

Not surprisingly, when it comes to travel, in lieu of luxurious four-poster beds or decorative pillows and throws, millennials expect more and better technology in order for their hotel stay to be a good one. Traditional marketing techniques and advertising channels that once enticed their parents to book a hotel room no longer work on this generation of consumers. Instead they look to technology and their peers during the planning, travel, and post-stay phases of the their journey.

So, how can hoteliers embrace technology to appeal to this demographic, secure those reservations and meet the stay expectations of the Millennial traveller?

Be Web and Mobile Focused:

More and more millennials use their mobile to make their purchasing decisions turning online to book flights and accommodation. According to a survey – New Horizons IV – by WYSE Travel Confederation, online accounts for a whopping 80% of under-30s travel bookings, while Google cites that two thirds of millennial travelers are comfortable booking an entire trip on a smartphone. So, as mobile booking becomes more ubiquitous, we can expect that number to continue rising.

What all that means is, adopting a mobile-first mindset when it comes to advertising, website efforts and online booking capabilities should be considered an absolute necessity. Millennials are driven by convenience and expect information to be easily accessible, simple to find and function correctly on any device they use – 52% of consumers will abandon an online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer.

By bolstering your online web presence that is mobile-responsive, provides new marketing and revenue opportunities while also playing a critical role in the customer experience and potentially, customer loyalty.

Be Socially Conscious:

Not only are millennials using mobile devices to plan and book travel, they are also using them to share experiences while traveling. Social media is a prime way in which millennials make themselves heard and are always ready to capture special moments for social media. 78% of them engage with brands on social media while just 47% of older generations do. Not only that, but millennial’s respect and rely on the opinions of their peers, so any shared experiences they are compelled to post on their personal accounts are far more authentic and credible than any magazine ad, sponsored blog post or stock photo. In fact, when planning and researching a trip 89% of this group plan travel activities based on content posted by their peers.

With their consistent use of social media and need for validation and documentation, it’s clear that hotels must provide an unparalleled social experience, significantly supported by meaningful engagement from the hotel. With a well-thought-out social media plan with the millennial traveller in mind hoteliers can successfully attract new custom leading to increased conversions.

Be Self-Service Ready:

While the concept of self-service may, at a glance, seem to contradict the everyday luxuries associated with the hospitality experience (having staff dote on each guest), the guest-driven demand is not at all unfounded. More than 85% of consumers have used a self-service options when they shop, with 73% of consumers saying they prefer self-service technologies, such as self-checkout, over engaging with brand associates.

When it comes to millennials and their stay experience, they have a vested preference for convenient, frictionless experiences. They want more control over their interactions – they want to use their smartphones throughout their stay experience, from self-checking, ordering room service, controlling their room HVAC and lighting, access digital concierge services, make dinner reservations, book a spa treatment, settle payments etc.

By providing self-service technology options hoteliers have an integral opportunity to cater to individual guest needs with ease.

It goes without saying, millennials are forever connected. They have grown up completely surrounded by and adapting to high-tech gadgets. They are also endless explorers thirsty for knowledge, seeking meaningful authentic experiences. By offering an experience that is digital, seamless and convenient, your hotel will stand to establish millennial loyalty that translates into an exciting revenue opportunities, both now and in the future.

The Rise of the Robot Butler: Fad or Future of Guest Service?

With the advent of motion pictures, science fiction writers’ have often provided prescient glimpses of future technologies. These inventions and happenings that were once dreamt up in the pages of fantasy novels and the far-flung corners of the imagination seemed like futuristic impossibilities. However, many have moved into the realm of reality; Google Glass and robots all had roots in films such as Blade Runner (1982) and Back to the Future (1989). Self-driving cars took to the roads in Total Recall (1990). Now, they’re being tested in Nevada as driverless Google cars. Videophone communications, 3-D printers (replicators), computer speech recognition and the most iconic handheld communicator (mobile) all made their debut in the Star Trek franchise. And now experts predict that within 10 years general-purpose robots, will perform household chores while consumers are at work; or serve as butlers at cocktail parties.

Are Robots the way of the future?

Well, “robots” have already been deployed in many industries for a long time. They have been imagined as a facet of the future ever since Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and while they seem like a relatively new addition to our lives, one of the world’s first working robots named Unimate joined the assembly line at the General Motors plant in Ewing Township as far back as 1961, revolutionizing the industrial workplace. Since then robots have routinely been used in the mechanical industry for cutting, grinding, for assemble products, for picking, packing and palletizing to name but a few applications. And in recent years, robotics has found its way into the everyday consumer life, changing them in fundamental ways. While not necessarily in the shape of a humanoid, from drones to smartphones, from Apple’s Siri to Amazon’s Alexa, these forms of robots are already doing a lot of the things we can do, except now they’re often doing them better.

Robots in the hospitality industry?

At first sight, it might seem like a gimmick. 50 years ago, people would have scoffed at the idea, but now at the rapid pace in which technology is changing, this has become very much a reality. Hotels across the US from the Westin in Buffalo, New York, to the Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel Hotel, are experimenting with using robots and AI as part of the guest experience in their hotel. Back in 2014 Starwood hired a robot butler – Botlr – to work back and front of house across its hotels in the US. “The guests really love the robot here…We place it near the front door and people ask it questions when they arrive. It is really handy if we are busy at the desk and a guest wants something like a towel.” Ankit Dhakal, the hotel’s Front Desk Manager. InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) trialed delivery robot Dash as its Crowne Plaza hotel in Silicon Valley. The three-foot-tall machine which delivers snacks, toothbrushes, and other amenities to guest rooms – travels at walking pace and can navigate floors by using the Wi-Fi to call lifts. Hilton Mclean in Virginia partnered with IBM and is using ‘Connie’, a robot butler as their concierge. Connie provides basic information such as the spa and gym timings, location of the nearest bank, things to do as well as personalized information for a guest’s needs.

There is no doubt that the use of robots within the hospitality industry is becoming a more commonplace trend and it’s not hard to see why. Robots are seen as being more efficient, better at dealing with different languages and handling data than their human counterparts. In certain situations, robots can perform with a greater degree of accuracy and consistency than humans would be able to, and ‘human error’ is eliminated.

While they regularly come under hefty criticism that they will supplant human employees and in particular replace the human element in service industries. However, this has been counterbalanced by praise for the significant labor efficiencies, improved social rankings and revolutionized customer service experience noticed in robot-staffed properties. They can be worked harder than humans and increase a hotel’s brand visibility in a fun and unique way. Not only that but robots and AI are emerging as valuable solutions for those operating in the hospitality industry by taking over the monotonous, time-consuming tasks and performing simple jobs such as greeting arriving guests, storing luggage, delivering food and laundry to rooms etc. and in doing so are freeing up hotel staff to carry out more complex tasks, offering more on-site guest interaction, more time to focus on the guests and creating a more, ever-expected, personalized guest experience.  

So, robot butlers, are they a fad or future of guest service? The answer is they are already changing customer service. Robots are, and will continue to be, a popular technology trend within the hospitality industry because ideas of automation and self-service are playing an increasingly vital role in the customer experience. The use of robots can lead to improvements in terms of speed, cost-effectiveness and even accuracy. Hospitality is a natural fit for this type of technology so it seems inevitable to play a major role in future businesses.

Easy Ways to Simplify the Hotel Check-In Process for Customers

No one wants to wait in line for the front desk anymore.

This is true for practically everyone, but especially “swipe left, swipe right” millennials, who have grown accustomed to instant gratification.

When they arrive at a hotel, today’s travelers expect efficiency. And when they don’t get what they expect, they complain. And when they complain on TripAdvisor or Yelp, word spreads fast, damaging your brand and your bottom line. That’s why hotels are investing in technology that enables them to simplify their check-in procedures and provide personalized service to their guests. In some cases it means eliminating the traditional stop at the front desk altogether.

Travelers and hotel guests are driving the technological revolution that is now changing the face of the hotel and hospitality industry. In particular, mobile devices are transforming how guests manage their entire stay, from beginning to end.

Research Insights

Consider this — in a hotel.com survey of nearly 10,000 travelers representing 31 countries, 76 percent said their mobile device was their favorite travel accessory. This research also revealed

that 42 percent of people globally have booked a hotel using their mobile device.

But most interesting of all was this takeaway from the research: Increasingly, guests expect alternatives to the traditional hotel registration desk, including automated check-in and the option to pay with their mobile device. Technology companies for the hotel and hospitality industry, like

StayNTouch, are meeting this need.

Strategies & Tips

Are you interested in making check-in fast and efficient for your guests while increasing your hotel’s profitability? Begin streamlining your hotel’s check-in desk today by incorporating these strategies and tips:

1)Add check-in kiosks

Among U.S. travelers, 44 percent of respondents told hotel.com that they would be willing to check themselves in at a hotel kiosk. Many hotel chains like Hyatt are already doing it.

Ideally, kiosks should be placed in the lobby. Invest in a technology that has capabilities beyond self check-in. For example, some software solutions enable guests to also review their reservations and program their room keys. Keep in mind that kiosks should be easy to use, because most travelers are encountering them for the first time.

Some hotels are experimenting with a hybrid model. They assign iPads to lobby staff to check in guests at the front desk or in the lobby.

Instead of lining up in front of the registration desk, guests are greeted by hotel ambassadors who sit down with them in comfortable couches. Guests can enjoy a glass of wine while hotel hosts use an iPad with a credit card reader or a laptop to check them in.

2) Allow hotel guests to use their mobile devices for remote check-in

The writing is on the wall!

In a survey of 500 millennials, a whopping 90 percent said they would be interested in using a mobile device for check-in.

Remote check-in can be web-based or via a mobile app like Zest™.

Guests can typically log on to your app, search for available rooms, and make a selection based on their needs. Some hotels include remote check-in as a benefit for loyalty club members. Some apps can also function as high-tech key cards.

Apps can be used for more than expediting hotel check-in. Use it as a marketing tool to educate guests about the hotel, offer them discounts and special offers, or sell them other items.

3) Introduce early check-in flexibility…for a fee!

Another way to simplify the registration desk and create more happy clients is to be flexible with check-in time.

The traditional 3 p.m. check-in time is unrealistic for most travelers, many of whom are arriving via long-haul flights that often arrive in the early hours of the morning. Who wants to deal with check-in after a red-eye?

Customer-focused hotels should consider introducing a flexible check-in policy. Allow guests who want to arrive early to pre-pay for early check-in. Imagine the goodwill it will create when your customers learn the old-school check-in desk has been streamlined.

It’s yet another smart way to generate additional revenue for your hotel while putting a smile on your customers’ face. It’s quickly becoming an industry trend among large and smaller properties alike.

Benefits

By simplifying and automating their check-in process, hotels will see a significant return on their investment. The benefits they will receive from investing in technology and in their frontline employees include:

Optimal guest experience that is efficient, convenient and hassle-free

When guests can manage the entire process on their mobile devices or via lobby kiosks — from booking their own rooms to handling hotel check-in — they feel empowered, respected, and valued. They will be back!

Reduce costs

Self-service check-in means your guests get to cut the line in the lobby while your hotel cuts labor costs. That’s a win-win!

Brand reputation protection

In the old world, when hotel guests had a bad experience, maybe they told their friends and co-workers about it. But nowadays, with the advent of social media, word of mouth travels far and fast. When guests are made to wait, the hotel pays a steep cost in damage to its brand and its bottom line.

Free up front desk staff

Self-service check-in and automation streamlines the front desk, freeing up staff so they can focus on other revenue generating strategies.

The most important thing, as with all new technologies, is to make sure there’s an onboarding process and plenty of training for hotel staff.

Keep it Simple

Standardize your processes so they’re uniform and easily understood by all team members and hotel guests. At the end of the day, technology is meant to simplify complex and time-consuming processes and procedures for your staff and guests. So have fun with it, but always keep it simple.

Why Users Love Self-Service Technologies

Self-service technology is having a transformative effect on the world around us, particularly on consumer behaviour and the way we interact with businesses. More than 85% of consumers have used a self-service kiosk and according to a SOTI survey, given the choice, consumers are more likely to tap self-service technology versus employee-led options.

Self-service is growing exponentially in all areas of retail, hotels, restaurants, healthcare and banking environments with customers increasingly opting for, and increasingly expecting self-service technology options. So, what is it that makes self-service so appealing to customers?

Self-service is faster

A problem that customers have when using the traditional route of assisted service is that they must go somewhere to use it and have to wait in line in order to get the service they need. But with self-service technology, it was designed to increase convenience. Evidence shows that kiosks reduce the time customers wait in line. The airline industry witnessed a 60-second drop in service times when they incorporated self-service kiosks, while a number of restaurants have noted that kiosks cut the time to take orders by nearly half and similarly, rental car brands such as Alamo and Enterprise report that self-service kiosks also reduce check-in times by half.

Reducing service time not only improves the customer experience but also increases sales. A Harvard Business Review study shows a 7 second reduction in average service time, which has been linked to an increase in market share of up to 3%. Research by Taylor and Francis points to a “positive and significant relationship between [self-service technology] and service quality, loyalty and behavioral intentions.” The result is usually happier customers who are more willing to try the service again, leading to increased sales.

Self-service allows customers to take control

Customers want more control over their interactions with your business—and the more you can put them in the driver’s seat, the happier they’ll be. While the concept of self-service may, at a glance, seem to contradict the everyday luxuries associated with the hospitality experience (having staff dote on each guest), many guests now crave more control throughout each touch-point preferring a more convenient, frictionless experience. In many instances, having complete autonomy over your user experience and the way you interact with a brand is, in fact, perceived as a luxury.

Not only that but self-service offers a more personalized option for the consumer; because self-service technology can be configurable to match the changing needs/situation of a consumer, it can adapt and be in flux with consumers’ changing needs, desires, behaviors, etc. letting the guest have full control over what they want their experience to be.

With self-service, there’s less room for error

Even well-trained, experienced workers can make mistakes when interacting with the customers. Mishearing a customer’s order or service request can lead to mix ups and consequently increases the number of irritated customers. However, when using self-service technology, the margin of error shrinks significantly and there is an increase in the accuracy of consumer transactions. Because the customer is the one in control of the transaction in self-service, the customer does not have to rely on an employee to make their service request or transaction accurate. By doing it themselves, customers are taking charge of how they are using a service and are less likely to make mistakes.

The truth is, automation exists because we want it. Customers are increasingly opting for self-service because we love the convenience, the efficiency, and the accuracy. When done right, self-service provides a more personalized and expedited experience.

Self Service versus Human Touch: Finding the right balance in your hotel

Customer engagement and satisfaction is one area that is continually linked with a shift towards automation, especially as AI and self-serve platforms become more developed and gain further recognition for their ability to drive efficiencies whilst offering customers speed and convenience. By 2020 – which is only a few short months away, it predicted that 85% of customer interactions will be managed without people and customers will still have “conversations” with businesses – but without the need for staff.

When it comes to the hotel industry, traditionally, the guest experience has been defined by human interaction(s) between guests and staff but over the past few years, as technology evolves and guest expectations change, self-service is now becoming an expected part of the travel experience. Guests expect ever more personalized, convenient and streamlined interactions with hotels and their staff. This leaves travelers preferring self-service options that prioritize convenience at every turn, whether it’s making reservations and check-in by smartphone or kiosk, accessing a virtual key from their mobile device, communicating with staff via text messaging etc. As a result the hotels have introduced a variety of high-tech innovations designed to meet demand and revolutionize the guest experience – everything from robot concierges to iPad ordering, mobile check-in, there’s no shortage of technologies filtering their way onto hotel properties – But how much self-service is too much, or too little? How do you find the right balance?

As self-service technology continues to evolve and gain popularity, it can be tempting to jump on the tech bandwagon and give your guests free reign over everything from check-in to check-out. However, guests desire and require various levels of automation and personal touch throughout their stay journey, making it important to strike the right balance and mix between automation and hands-on, interpersonal interaction. Before rushing to implement any new self-service tech, consider the business goals of the hotel and, more importantly, the needs of guests. Ask yourself “who benefits” before implementing self-service procedures – are you doing this to enhance your guest experience, or only because it’s “in” right now. Technology must be deployed based on a rigorous evaluation of a hotel’s business goals and guest requests. Otherwise these very same “innovations” will simply be technology for technology’s sake and can end up having the opposite of their intended effect.

The inclusion of self-service, one-click technology that boasts a fast, frictionless experience is not meant to replace the traditional touch-points of interpersonal interaction with staff and high-touch attention – it’s meant to complement it. Hoteliers should use technology to enhance, not lessen, the human element within the guest experience.

On-going digital reform is undeniable. Self-service isn’t just the wave of the future; it’s the reality of the present and ultimately, the need for technological investment. However, the dedication to a service model that is both accessible and personable remains paramount and hoteliers need to ensure they provide the kind of service that their guest desires, offering as many options for engagement as possible.

Benefits of Check-In/Out Hotel Kiosks

Self-serve hotel kiosks have exploded in recent years, offering a variety of benefits for hotel management and guests alike. These kiosks can check guests in and out as well as issue key cards, streamlining the check-in process while freeing up employees to complete other tasks. Let’s take a look at the primary benefits of modern self-serve hotel kiosks so that you can determine whether they are right for your lobby.

No More Lines

The main benefit that comes to mind when first considering a self-serve kiosk is the ability to cut down on queues at the front desk. Even with minimal hotel staff on hand, kiosks make it easy to address the needs of multiple guests at the time. Your guests are sure to appreciate the streamlined check in and out process — especially if they are running late. Smart kiosks can check in guests using their names, confirmation numbers, or by scanning an ID. Not only does this provide a more convenient guest experience, but it also improves operational efficiency for your team.

Liberate Your Staff

Self-service kiosks free up your staff from needing to conduct the mundane check-in activities for every guest. They will then be free to have more meaningful interactions with your guests and address their needs in a personalized way. Face-to-face interactions between your guests and your staff can then involve topics like advice about the local area, service requests, or just friendly conversation.

Improved Guest Data Use

When your guests input their own data into your kiosks, they are less likely to make mistakes when it comes to spelling or email formatting. This data can then automatically be registered within your Property Management System and inform other aspects of the guest experience, such as special requirements and room preferences. Your business benefits through the clearer picture this creates of your guests. This valuable information can be used to improve facilities as well as inform marketing strategies. In addition, you can collect guest emails and other information that they volunteer for promotional purposes.

Flexibility to Fit Your Needs

Whether you’re just looking for a simple self-check-in option or a way for guests to interact with other aspects of their stay, you can use self-service kiosks to help achieve the key business goals of your hotel in an aesthetically pleasing way. You can place kiosks near your front desk, in a casual sitting area, or in any other location where your guests could use a self-serve service.

More Revenue-Generating Opportunities

When guests use your self-serve kiosks, they’ll be able to browse upgrades and extra services at their leisure. This is an attractive option for guests who would prefer to avoid in-person upselling tactics from your staff. Your kiosks can display a number of upgraded amenity packages which your guests can instantly add to their bill. The best part about using a self-serve kiosk as a revenue source is that there are no additional labor costs.

Provide a Personalized Experience

Once a guest logs into your kiosk, they can be addressed in a personalized way. You can use guest data from your Property Management System to inform the experience that you deliver via your kiosks and deliver a kiosk interaction that is unique to them. For example, you could use images from their home country as a way to make them feel welcome.

Give Customers a Choice

Even if a guest chooses to talk to your staff rather than use a self-service kiosk, they will still appreciate having the additional options available to them. More than ever, guests like to feel empowered with a range of self-service options. These include features like being able to message the front desk or order room service with an app. Self-service kiosks fit into the greater theme of personalization and on-demand dynamics that drive the modern accommodation industry.

As you can see, self-serve kiosks offer a wide variety of benefits to your hotel. Your employees and your guests will both appreciate the autonomy that kiosks offer, and your overall marketing strategy can be boosted by the analytics that they provide. Keep in mind that not all self-service kiosks are created equal. The StayNTouch Zest™ Station is the leading choice for hotels looking to provide an optimal self-service experience. These kiosks weave into your greater PMS ecosystem to deliver a more modern and streamlined hotel experience.

Self-Service in Hospitality: Can Customer Retention Thrive without a Human Touch?

Technology-based self-service is everywhere these days enabling users to accomplish a wide range of tasks – from banking, to ordering pizza, checking luggage at the airport, checking into a hotel – even accessing your hotel room. People are increasingly expecting some level of automation because, in many cases, when handled correctly, it provides a quick and friction-free interaction, improving the customer experience.

Due to a combination of evolving consumer expectations and advancements in technology continuing to transform customer service interactions across industries, experts project that by 2020 (which by the way is now only a few short months away!) more than 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without the need for a human agent.

In the hotel industry, this is a frightening prospect for some hoteliers who still believe that machines can’t independently carry out a hotel’s most basic function i.e. to provide great service. Machines, for them, are unable to contribute to a culture of service in a hotel and exceptional guest service requires intuitive responsiveness and human sensitivity, a skill impossible for a machine to perform. Human beings alone are capable of delivering communication, as well as the ability to perceive any underlying biases that could be affecting an interaction with a particular guest.

And while one cannot argue with those statements, as Joseph Weizenbaum, a German-American Professor at MIT, wrote  “AI cannot, by definition, successfully simulate genuine human empathy” – and that is true, there is a lack of understanding of how technology, when used appropriately, not only performs tasks that need no human empathy but can reinforce the essence of hospitality.

Self-service shouldn’t be seen as a step towards the dehumanization of hospitality, but rather a way to make those human touch-points more personalized and intentional. With automation hoteliers have more opportunity than ever before to revamp and empower their customer service strategy. Self-service technology and automation improves the customer’s experience by allowing hoteliers to hire the best human beings for the most important customer-facing roles. And, by combining the two intelligently, hoteliers can provide the optimal customer experience that each customer expects.

And by intelligently, we also mean balance. Too much automation is just as bad as too little. With self-service and automation offering the ability to revolutionize the guest experience a number of hotels are upping the customer service ante by adopting new technology that provides guests the option of removing the human element. However, the problem with this sudden rush to implement new solutions is that it often happens without considering the business goals of the hotel and, more importantly, the needs of guests.

A longitudinal study that looked at the long-term effects of self-service technology reposts that if you try to go full throttle on the self-service technology at the expensive of human interaction, your strategy is doomed to fail—but, by the same token, if you ignore self-service technology completely, you’re also doomed to fail. A level of human interaction is necessary to balance the automation, and, some level of automation is necessary to balance customer expectations. The optimum use of self-service technology comes from replacing human interaction where it does not add any value, and increasing it where it does.

The bottom line is that self-service and automation now play an important role in delivering exceptional guest service. While technology on its own doesn’t make for a great hotel stay or solely retain customers, it comes from using a combination and, a thoughtful application of, high-tech tools complemented by a human touch.