Hoteliers from all around the world are on the lookout for ways to enhance their guests’ experience. And currently, automation seems to be the most viable technology that can do that.
But do you know what’s happening in the hotel automation space? What are the latest trends in hotel automation?
Whether you’re a hotel owner, manager, or employee, this blog is for you.
I am going to delve into the world of hotel automation and cover everything you need to know, including the latest trends, the most useful tools, and practical tips for implementing automation in your hotel.
Evolution of Automation in the Hospitality Industry
The use of technology to automate various tasks and services in the hospitality industry has a long history.
Early forms of hotel automation involved the use of computers for managing reservations and check-ins.
As technology advanced, so did hotel automation, leading to the widespread adoption of personal computers and the internet in the 1990s, which enabled online reservations and electronic systems for managing guest information. And this made it easier for hotels to manage their operations more efficiently.
In the last two decades, automation in the hospitality industry has continued to evolve. With the widespread adoption of smartphones and other mobile devices, hotels today are able to offer guests increased convenience and flexibility.
Now fast forward to date, many hotels offer self-check-in kiosks and mobile app-based room controls, among other features that allow guests to access and control various aspects of their stay through their devices.
This evolution of hotel automation solutions demonstrates the capabilities of technology to improve efficiency and enhance the guest experience.
As technology continues to advance, it is likely that hotel automation will also evolve and change the way hotels operate and guests make reservations.
Current Trends and Technologies in Hotel Automation
There are many trends and a variety of tools and technologies that are commonly used in hotel automation. Some of the most talked-about include:
1. Property management systems (PMS)
When we talk about hotel automation solutions, a property management system (PMS) holds the first spot in the list.
These software systems are used to manage reservations, guest check-in/check-out, and room assignments. However, it’s not limited to the same. A PMS is capable of enhancing and automating hotels’ end-to-end operations.
Additionally, a PMS often integrates with other hotel systems, such as point-of-sale systems and customer relationship management systems. Through such integration, the system ensures that every department is working in sync and the hotelier doesn’t miss out on any updates.
2. Guest experience solutions
These are designed to enhance the guest experience by providing personalized recommendations and services, such as booking activities or ordering room service.
Now, that’s a general overview or you can say a definition.
But when you delve deeper, it goes without saying that there are multiple aspects that these solutions cover.
One of the most sought-after is a contactless system, that allows guests to book, check-in, avail of services, and check-out from a hotel without any human interference. And it is a great example of such guest experience solutions.
3. Smart room technology
IoT is at the forefront of smart room technology. These devices are connected to the internet and can be used in hotel room automation and control of various aspects of hotel rooms.
For example, hotels might use IoT devices such as smart locks, smart thermostats, or smart lighting systems that can be controlled through a mobile app or other interfaces.
These technologies have gained a lot of attention lately for their ability to improve the guest experience. They provide customizable control over the room environment and enable guests to have a more personalized and enjoyable stay.
In addition to improving the guest experience, these technologies also have the ability to manage energy usage in a way that helps hotels reduce their carbon footprint and save money on energy costs.
They can also provide important data and insights that can be used to identify opportunities for further energy efficiency improvements.
Also read: IoT in Hospitality Industry
4. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are crucial for a hotel’s automation infrastructure. They can be used to automate various tasks in the hotel industry, such as analyzing guest data, creating guest personas, making personalized recommendations, or automating marketing campaigns.
Additionally, AI and machine learning can be leveraged to improve security and safety by providing real-time monitoring and alerts, or by automating tasks such as identifying potential security threats.
Tips for Implementing Hotel Automation
Automation is certainly an intriguing aspect of a hotel’s overall infrastructure. However, to make the right implementation, a hotelier needs to be aware and mindful of certain things.
So, if you have been thinking of deploying hotel automation solutions on your property, here are some tips for implementing it:
1. Develop a clear plan and strategy
Before implementing any automation technologies, it’s important to have a clear plan in place. This should include specific goals for the automation, such as improving efficiency, enhancing the guest experience, or reducing costs.
It should also include a timeline for implementation, taking into account any necessary training or other preparations.
Not just that! A strong and well-thought-out budget also plays an imperative role in the implementation of any automation technology. It ensures that the automation project is financially viable.
In addition to these elements, do consider the long-term benefits and potential ROI of automation. Will it pay for itself over time through cost savings or increased revenue? Will it provide a competitive advantage in the market? Answering these questions can help you determine the best course of action and ensure that your automation implementation is a success.
2. Consider the guest experience
When implementing automation, it’s important to consider how it will impact the guest experience. Will it make their stay more convenient and enjoyable, or will it feel impersonal and disruptive?
It’s important to strike the right balance and ensure that automation is used to enhance the guest experience, not detract from it.
Now, to achieve this balance, a hotelier must consider the needs and preferences of his/her guests. Some guests may prefer a more personal touch and may not be comfortable using self-check-in kiosks or mobile app-based room controls. In these cases, it may be best to offer both automated and traditional options to give guests the choice.
In addition, consider how automation will fit into the overall guest experience.
For example, if you are implementing a chatbot to assist with booking and other tasks, you'll want to make sure that the chatbot is easy to use and provides helpful and accurate information. If the chatbot is difficult to use or provides incorrect information, it could detract from the guest experience rather than enhance it.
3. Start small and scale up
When implementing automation, it’s often best to start small and gradually scale up. Starting small allows you to test out different technologies, see how they work in practice, and make any necessary adjustments or improvements before committing to a full-scale rollout.
Now, when I say start small, there are a few different ways to do that. One option is to implement automation in a specific department or function, such as reservations or housekeeping. Another option is to implement automation in a limited number of rooms or guest areas.
If you take these approaches, you’ll be able to see how automation is received by guests and whether is it really solving the problems and you’re getting the most out of your investment.
4. Train your hotel staff
Proper training is important when implementing automation in your hotel, especially in guest-facing areas, such as self-check-in kiosks or chatbots.
If your staff is not trained, they may not be able to assist guests who are having difficulty using the automation, which could lead to frustration and a negative guest experience.
Now, when you train your staff, provide clear instructions and training materials. You may also want to consider offering hands-on training or providing support as needed.
By investing in your staff’s learning and development, you can ensure that your staff is equipped to handle the new automation technologies and provide a high level of service to guests.
5. Integrate with existing systems
If you already have various systems in place, it’s important to determine how the new automation technologies will integrate with them. This will help ensure that everything works smoothly and that you’re getting the most out of your investment.
For example, if you are implementing a new point-of-sale system or a housekeeping or maintenance system, you'll want to make sure that it integrates with your existing property management system (PMS). This will allow you to have a comprehensive view of hotel operations and streamline processes across departments.
In today’s fast-paced tech-driven era, it is of utmost importance that all of your technology stacks are interlinked and synced. If you get it right, you are sure to witness a successful implementation of automation that adds value to your hotel.
6. Focus on continuously improving
Hotel automation technologies are extremely dynamic. Meaning, the technology that’s making strides today might not actually be relevant tomorrow.
This is why, you as a hotelier, must keep a tap on all the latest happening in the hotel tech space. Not just keep up, but you also need to determine how you can upgrade or replace certain technologies as they become obsolete and add new technologies to improve the guest experience.
For example, there was a time when OCR scanners for guest check-in were only limited to mobile devices for front desk employees.
However, there have been a lot of advancements in space. Today, there are dedicated kiosk-like devices that come with OCR scanners. Guests can simply scan their IDs, and proceed with their check-in with little to no human interaction.
7. Be mindful of privacy
As with any technology that collects data, it’s important to be mindful of privacy concerns and ensure that personal data is collected and used in a responsible manner.
So, it is considered to be a good practice to evaluate every single technology and determine if they are secure enough to keep your hotel and its guests’ data safe.
After all, a single mishap regarding a data leak can ruin your hotel’s reputation.
One thing you can do to ensure total data security is work with cybersecurity experts who can help you build infrastructure that would ensure data security.
8. Communicate with guests
I cannot emphasize enough on this point. It is of utmost importance that you communicate with your guests.
And when I say communication, I literally mean telling your guests what you are doing in terms of automation in your hotel, particularly if they may impact the guest experience. Provide information about how to use the technologies or address any concerns that guests may have.
Now, this communication can happen in any form; be it on social media, announcements on the website, or with guests in person.
Automation in the hotel industry, lately, has been at the forefront of the whole hospitality industry. It is not only changing the way hotels operate but also enhancing the overall experience of guests.
While I have mentioned some of the top trends and emphasized the best practices to implement automation, you must evaluate your hotel first.
Look for the areas that are currently in dire need of improvement and accordingly opt for automation technology.
I hope you’re satisfied with the information provided. Do let me know if you think there’s something I missed out on.