From the initial steps of booking a hotel stay to checking in and out, the hotel experience has become a lot more automated in recent years. Automation is the latest stage in a digital evolution and efficiency is the name of the game. “Travelers want greater automation in hotels. The majority of travelers would like to see greater automation of hotel services with over half wanting to use their mobile device to receive bills (58%), check-in (54%), checkout (57%), pay for hotel services (51%), and open their hotel room door (50%)” 2016 Cognizant Travel Survey.
In the past automation would have been more associated with factory lines or robotics. But now automation has come to be associated with consumer facing software that provides the ability to interact directly with, traditionally, back-office systems as opposed to going through a staff intermediary.
This sounds a lot like robots taking over human jobs, but actually, we at StayNTouch think this helps us understand what is really true “service” and what isn’t.
First came personal computers (the word “personal” was important because before, these were business machines.) Then came the Internet, which was really, originally, a professional academic tool. Then came laptops, smartphones, tablets etc. And very soon, we will be in the world of IOT (the Internet of things). So we have moved from a place where technology was the purview of only elite professionals to a place where computers are used by 4 year olds everyday. Computer technology and software have not only become de-mystified, they have become integral to our basic lives.
In Downton Abbey, The Crawley’s and all the upper class of that era have a plethora of staff from Under Butlers to Lady’s Maids to help them get dressed whenever, wherever. We now look at someone else buttoning our buttons and tying our shoes as absurd. Why would anyone need someone else to dress them? In a modern day comparison, as a technology-driven culture, we now feel that having someone else interact with software to complete tasks on our behalf is also just a little bit absurd. Automation isn’t that we prefer robots to people; it is saying that real service means providing something that isn’t so easy that we happily would do it ourselves.
New technology is driving hotels to focus on service touch-points that provide a real value or a special experience for the guests. Checking guests in and out of a hotel is neither. Let them do it themselves. After all, that’s what they want anyway.
by Karen O’Neill, StayNTouch