Are Robots the Future of the Hospitality Business? Some Should Be


The hospitality industry has enjoyed strong growth over the last decade, and recent reports by PWC predict this will continue into 2019. With an increased volume of personal and business travelers demanding more from the hotels they select, whether it be additional amenities, bespoke services, restaurant options, unique rewards programs or elevated customer service, hotels and hospitality providers need to impress the discerning traveler in an already crowded and competitive market.

To keep up, hospitality providers have been building out these new facilities and services, or major brands have been increasingly acquiring smaller chains to increase their brand loyalty with travelers. In an industry like hospitality that requires expensive investment in physical amenities, and an even greater investment in the staff to run it, executives have needed to find cost-saving solutions within their business protocols to keep up the pace of growth.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) — an automated technology that uses software bots to automate and manage repeatable tasks so employees don’t have to — has been recognized as the most advanced technology available, allowing hotel chains to automate certain processes, cutting down the time it takes to integrate a new hotel into their system or support staff to better meet business demands, reduce up-front costs for franchises, and reduce the amount of inquiries at help desks across the company. Freeing up valuable employee time to focus on what will drive true brand value, interacting with guests and working to get those five star YELP reviews.

While the notion of automating tasks typically done by employees might make some workers feel a little queasy, RPA is actually devised as a worker-friendly solution. By automating data management and other processes, employees can focus on more personalized service, which is the core of the hospitality business. Additionally, RPA makes on-boarding and training tasks much more manageable.

The reason RPA provides a solution for hospitality, above all else, comes down to that flexibility. RPA can automate “unattended” back-office tasks, such as data management and payment processing. RPA technology can be easily scaled up or down to match an organization’s growth demands without any additional cost or effort. One RPA software license can work for many different processes, making ROI an afterthought.

Something to keep in mind with RPA technology is that successful automation requires a company to evaluate their exact needs. For a business to truly thrive with RPA, they must really consider how the software can best be tailored to their company goals. Whether it is an unattended bot that runs on a system by itself, an attended bot that assists the hotel staff as they go about their daily tasks, or a hybrid of both varying depending on the task itself, these bots are built to learn how to best help the organization. There’s a few measures that ensure this automation being as smooth and successful as possible.

First of all, it’s important that senior executives are all-in on the benefits of RPA technology. That way, the deployment of the tech is a priority, not a side project. Dedicated RPA teams should be created so that developers have time to develop wizards instead of just adding that workload to their plate. If the software isn’t deployed thoughtfully, an organization won’t be able to reap the full benefits. In general, the entire staff should be educated about the role of RPA and how it will affect hotel operations — RPA will help them optimize service or other more high priority tasks that likely ate away at their workday.

Not all RPA products address the same needs, so the last thing to remember is that it’s of the utmost importance to choose a few partner solutions that best fit your needs. The benefits are unassailable: a smoother operation that gives your hospitality employees more time to do what they do best.

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