The Automated Hotel: A new approach to guest expectations and staff shortages

By Hauke Lenthe, managing director, International, Nomadix

How was the summer tourist season for your hotel? Did you cope with running a hands-on service alongside staff shortages, new cleaning and safety demands? 

 In this new world, automation and AI are no longer a counter to the traditional face-to-face service of hotels. They’re a new, smart way of doing business when guests expect a large degree of the automated services they have at home, before, during and after their stay. 

Your guests already create personal profiles so that technology and services recognise them, their preferences, group memberships and payment methods, etc. At home, they use voice devices to control the temperature, music and to order groceries. Additionally, by booking trips online, they provide all of their information at the point of sale. Hotels can be on a par with the experience at home by using automation and AI to boost guest satisfaction and streamline back-of-house services.

Mobile-first approach

A mobile device is probably the single most significant identifier of consumers today. A unique number is tied to a real person with a specific account, apps and payment methods. It’s the gateway to a digital touchpoint with your guests, and an entryway into upselling your hotel’s services and amenities.

Imagine first being able to instantly get guests onto your property Wi-Fi, engaging with them before they reach the lobby. Technology, such as Passpoint, is being implemented by brands today to create a secure, seamless way to get and stay connected to Wi-Fi, with roaming across multiple properties, locations and venues.

The Wi-Fi data can update your property management system (PMS) so that the guest is recognised immediately and the highly personalised communications and value-added services can begin. Mobile check-in can be initiated, followed by keyless room entry. There’s no cold, impersonal service here. Guests are relieved they don’t have to wait at the front desk and answer questions you should already know.

Once in their rooms, guests can use their mobile devices to cast their choice of video or music apps directly to the in-room TV. You can deliver timely messages about F&B times or available spa treatments. This isn’t intrusive; it’s helpful, timely and appropriate. 

Voice/AI services

 By 2025, an estimated 409.4 million smart speaker units will have shipped. There is nothing easier than voice commands – it’s instantaneous, intuitive and reasonable that guests will prefer a smart hotel like their smart homes.

Integrating room controls with in-room voice devices can acclimatise guests, letting them control room temperature, open and close curtains, choose TV channels, make reservations, order towels and book a spa appointment. Imagine the efficiency for staff and guests when housekeeping or service items can be ordered with a simple command, enveloping the whole guest experience into a digital wrapper. 

By automatically integrating guest data collected with each stay, in-room AI can also create “wow” factors. Surprise and delight loyalty members with their favourite song, or offering to order their favourite pizza. 

This technology can also reduce calls to the front desk, creating an optimal guest experience and refocusing staff time on more valuable guest interactions.

Back-of-house automation

Automation is a key component in 24/7 service models and helps with overall employee satisfaction and efficiency. In hotels, staffing relies on an accurate PMS deployment to understand occupancy levels and guest types. It can also help automate inventory management and pricing. 

Yet automation and intelligence begin with the online travel agency (OTA) enquiry or booking, which, if captured accurately, lets you understand buying and guest behaviour before they arrive. Integration with mobile devices can, for example, tell you when a guest has checked out, triggering an automated message (rather than staff having to send a manual one), to housekeeping to clean the room. 

And, if you’re already using robots, what about using Wi-Fi presence data to understand which spaces are crowded, to more frequently clean public areas? Hand-in-hand with voice services, coupling automation and robots will be an upgrade for most back-of-house operations.

We’re in this together

Now more than ever, technology can be both a game-changer and a lifesaver. Consider implementing an automation and AI strategy that integrates mobile, voice and back-office systems, to enhance the guest and tenant experience, today and into the future. 

Nomadix is exhibiting with our partner Cyber Distribution at the Independent Hotel Show, London, 4-5 October. Find us on stand #1157.

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