As automation technology becomes more and more sophisticated, brands are increasingly turning to self-service kiosks to give their guests additional options for purchasing products, delivering feedback, and checking into hotels. Their motivation is two-fold: first, to give guests a convenient method to complete a purchase or check in to their hotel, and second, to cut labour costs.
A variety of hotels are getting in on the kiosk check-in trend. The Henn Na Hotel in Sasebo, Japan, for example welcomes visitors using a velociraptor robot that presides over a kiosk. And Yotel and CitizenM are just two among many hotel brands that have installed kiosks in their lobbies so guests can skip the line.
Going forward, the greatest challenge will be figuring out how to balance this technology with the delivery of superior customer service.
Here, we’ve rounded up some facts and statistics that show why guests wants hotels to make this technology available, some of the unexpected benefits of using it, and how hotels have implemented it to better serve their guests.
Facts About Self-Service Kiosks
According to a publication titled Unleashing the Power of Digital Signage; The first self-service kiosk was invented in 1977 by a Murray Lappe, a pre-med student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and it was used by students and faculty to find information on things such as bus schedules and university courses.
The self-service kiosk has come a long way since then. Today, kiosks don’t just dispense information, but also receive it. Through them, consumers can buy their groceries, get their boarding passes at the airport, and check in at a hotel — among many other capabilities.
Here are some other important facts about self-service kiosks:
- According to NCR, when asked what they like about self-service kiosks, 42 percent of consumers said they liked the convenience of it and 39 percent said it’s faster than a cashier-assisted line.
- In a recent IBM survey, Roughly half of consumers estimate that they spend between 30 minutes and two hours waiting in line for service every week. Approximately 39 percent of consumers would be very interested in using self-service technology to cut down on wait times.
- According to Software Advice 37 percent of travelers are at least moderately likely to choose a hotel that has a lobby equipped with technology such as self-service kiosks.
- As this study from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration points out, “customers evaluate service quality based both on the outcome of the service and on the quality of the service delivery process — which includes appropriate interaction with technology or employees.” In other words, throwing technology into the mix isn’t an excuse for brands to let exceptional service slide.
- Studies from Harvard Business Review have shown that self-service kiosks have many unexpected benefits — namely, removing some social friction that may dissuade consumers from making a purchase. After all, kiosks won’t judge consumers’ dietary choices or look down on them for being unable to pronounce an uncommon name properly.
It’s clear that convenience and speed are the top reasons consumers prefer to use self-service kiosks, but brands cannot ignore the social considerations that might compel a consumer to choose the technology over a human clerk. For some brands, it might make a lot of financial sense to offer self-service technology for guests who, for whatever reason, may not want to purchase products or services from a human being.
Kiosk Use in Hospitality
Self-service check-in is growing in popularity, particularly among business travelers, and with good reason. Many business travelers stay with the same hotel brand whenever they’re on the road, and they don’t need the front desk staff to explain the property’s policies and available services every time they check in. Self check-in kiosks allow them to bypass all that.
Moreover, kiosks simplify the check-in process and can help weary travelers get to their rooms faster. According to Hotel News Now, CitizenM hotels has an average check-in time using their self-service kiosks is 2 minutes, while the average check-out time is 30 seconds.
To quote the Cornell School of Hotel Administration study mentioned above: “Organizations must treat all channels as part of a larger customer experience that integrates service delivery channels to provide a higher level of customer service.” Though kiosks offer guests a convenient and user-friendly alternative to traditional check-in, they cannot wholly replace humans in a hotel’s customer service strategy.
Instead, they should work in step with traditional channels of customer service, such as face-to-face interaction, to give guests a well-rounded, satisfying experience before, during, and after their stay.