Think about the last time you checked into a hotel. Chances are, you didn’t need to stop by reception and speak to an agent to check in but headed to a self-service kiosk instead. Or maybe you had already entered your information online, and all you had to do was pick up your keys before heading up to your room. Increasingly, this is what the arrival experience looks like at many hotels, and hoteliers, as well as guests, are embracing the benefits a hybrid hotel model offers. In fact, in a recent webinar by Shiji ReviewPro, 43% of attendees said they offer online check-in or will do so within the year, and almost 30% offer keyless room entry.
Part personal service, part automation, and part self-service, this new model is shaping the hotel experience and it is up to us hoteliers to adapt to it and ensure that it works for both them and their guests. To access and download the full report, follow this link, and read on for a summary of the findings.
Automation in Hotels
The Hybrid Hotel Model refers to a blend of the traditional in-person services offered by our industry with new technological solutions that serve guests and complete back-of-house processes. It isn’t a new process, as now-common technologies such as elevators and washing machines have been around for a while. Recently, however, what has evolved at a quick pace is software-based automation, having started with PMS software for the front desk and now powering nearly every department of a hotel. Trends described in the report, such as technological innovation and consumer demand, have accelerated the process.
As automation becomes part of our daily lives, so does it within the hotel space, too. It brings speed and efficiency to processes, both reducing repetitive tasks for employees as well as giving guests what they want when they want it. By doing so, it also increases revenue and reduces cost, mainly via earning incremental revenue and decreasing labor costs. Additionally, convenience brings higher guest satisfaction as guests have control at their fingertips, and staff has their time freed up to focus on more meaningful interactions with guests.
It’s not all positive, though. Hoteliers need to properly plan and implement the roll-out of such automation, making sure to test their functionality and integrations. Not doing so can cause issues to snowball, such as double-work being done needlessly, lack of employee presence and human touch, and an increase in guest complaints due to unfriendly interfaces or lack of assistance from real staff when encountering problems with the tech. Initial costs of implementation can also run high, and hoteliers need to watch out for staff morale and their fear of losing their jobs, as can be seen in the graph below.
Delivering Guest Satisfaction
Chiefly due to staff shortages the industry is facing, Shiji ReviewPro’s Q2 2022 Global Hotel Review Benchmark report shows that guest satisfaction is on the decline since the outbreak of the global health crisis, dropping from 86.4% in Q2 2019 to 84.4% in Q2 2022, globally and across multiple review sources, with Staff & Service being one of the two most affected categories. For that reason, hoteliers can turn to technology for help with tasks that do not require that much time from humans, allowing employees to focus on value-added interactions. Examples of this are chatbots, task management, and guest feedback management.
Contrary to what many hoteliers tell themselves, travelers are actually open to or even prefer technology and automation, according to reports from Amadeus, Skift, and Oracle. As shown below, they welcome solutions that can reduce waiting times for them, minimize physical contact with others, and provide support and answers to questions and requests on demand.
Is the Hybrid Hotel Right For Me?
To decide what and when to automate, hoteliers must keep in mind their own goals and brand promises. Guests in luxury properties, for instance, tend to expect more high-touch service than those in limited-service ones. Another variable to consider is customer segmentation, including age, level of desire for the newest technology available, and purpose of travel.
In summary, adapting to this new hybrid model is the key to future-proofing your business.
By carefully considering what automation looks like for your property and planning its execution, you can increase efficiency and deliver a better guest experience, along with improving the bottom line. Keep in mind that it is necessary to always be flexible and adapt to change. Remember that satisfied guests today translate into better reputation, better loyalty, and better financial performance in the future. For strategies to plan a successful hybrid hotel, click below to check out the full guide.