Three Ways Self-Service Technologies Can Improve the Hospitality Industry
Self-service technologies are now ubiquitous. Whether it’s being used to purchase items (groceries, furniture, tires), check-in for doctor appointments, renew library books, or chat with a customer service representative about a recent health insurance claim, self-service technology has been completely embedded into our current way of life. And as consumers begin to vacation again, post-COVID-19, they’re expecting access to similarly easy, convenient self-service technologies while on-property. But this technology doesn’t just benefit guests. It can also improve operations and create happier staff members. Here’s how:
Self-Service Tech to Augment Staffing Shortages
With staffing shortages continuing to afflict the hospitality industry post COVID-19, hoteliers have quickly begun to adapt self-service technologies such as mobile check-in, online ordering for room service, mobile pay options, and more. However, not all self-service technology is reliant on the guest’s mobile device.
For example, up until last year, CardFree was a bring-your-own-device company. But in the last 3-6 months, it’s begun receiving a lot of requests from hoteliers for kiosk technology.
“There’s a large part of the population that really does like using them,” says Alan Paul, Chief Revenue Officer, CardFree. “We’re getting more kiosk requests from clients than ever before, especially in the hotel space.”
So where are hotels wanting to use these kiosks? At their grab-and-go markets.
“Hoteliers don’t have the ability to staff these locations anymore, but they’re still an excellent revenue stream. So, by setting up kiosks, hoteliers can keep this revenue stream in place regardless of their staffing situation,” Paul adds.
Self-Service Tech to Build Better Guest Relationships
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, hoteliers were afraid to roll out self-service technology thinking it would create some type of barrier between the brand and guest.
“Brands have begun to recognize that technology is not a barrier to creating strong customer relationships,” says Jon Squire, CEO & Founder, CardFree. “It’s a tool that can both buoy your business and make it more efficient.”
Technology helps build these relationships in multiple ways, Squire says. First, it allows customers to drive the timing of their experience: they can check in when they want, pay their bill when they want, and make their spa reservations from anywhere via a few clicks. Second, by offering mobile solutions that create convenient experiences, customers are more likely to opt into data sharing which can then be used to create greater loyalty, upsell, and help inform important business decisions.
For example, consider the potential of geolocation technology: When guests opt in, they’re able to receive messages such as: “We have a last-minute opening for a massage at 2 pm. Book it now for 20% off!” or “Our happy hour begins in 15 minutes! Join us at the bar for $8 margaritas!”
Self-Service Tech to Drive a Better Employee Experience
Implementing self-service technologies, such as pay at the table and order online, can also improve the employee experience. In F&B outlets, self-service tech has increased tipping between eight to 20% and table turns are anywhere from seven to 16 minutes faster, Squire explains. When employees notice that their tipping wages are significantly higher and their customers are happier, they’re more likely to stay and work for the brand – and even recruit their friends and family to work for the brand.
Self-service tech can help improve the front desk experience as well, he notes. For example, front desk staff repeatedly answer the same questions from guests about restaurant/pool hours, sundry requests, and check-out times. However, if an app makes it easy for guests to find this information on their own, front desk agents are going to be so much happier because they’ll get to concentrate on a more valuable and rewarding part of their job: building guest relationships.