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Boost Bookings With Self-Service Technology for Your Accommodation Business

self-service-technology

What if you could give your guests complete control over their vacation experience, while at the same time reducing the workload for you and your staff? We know it sounds too good to be true, but the truth is that self-service technology for the hospitality industry makes it possible. It’s affordable to implement, even for smaller accommodation providers, and you can choose from many different options, from self-service kiosks that allow guests to check in on arrival to being able to check in and out online or retrieve keys for an apartment, condo, or villa through a special lockbox called a Key Café.

Imagine not having to have a staff member at your property 24/7 to let people into their suites or help people check in manually. Instead, guests can do it themselves, meaning they don’t have to be anxious about arriving on time. Flight delays and other travel hindrances like weather and road construction are extremely common, and worrying about being able to check into your hotel, campground, or RV park properly is just another worry to add to the pile. But with self-service technology, guests can have peace of mind that they’ll be able to check in without hassle. 

Self-service technology in accommodations has revolutionized the guest experience, providing convenience, efficiency, and personalization like never before. From online booking platforms to mobile check-in and in-room amenities control, self-service technology empowers guests to tailor their stay according to their preferences while streamlining operations for accommodation providers.

In this article, we explore the ins and outs of self-service technology in the hospitality industry. Including types, benefits, and challenges of this revolutionary offering for accommodation providers.

self service kiosks newbook

What is Self-Service Technology for Hotels?

Self-service technology for hotels refers to a range of digital tools and platforms that empower guests to independently access services, amenities, and information during their stay. These technologies aim to enhance the guest experience by providing convenience, flexibility, and personalization while streamlining operations for hotel staff.

Self-service technology for hotels can be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • Allowing guests to pay online instead of at the front desk
  • Allowing guests to check in and out themselves
  • Allowing guests to add amenities to their stay without having to ask for them at the front desk
  • Automating notifications and reminders for staff to clean rooms or maintenance to fix problems once a guest checks out or confirms a booking

Trends in Hotel Self-Service 

Many accommodation providers are embracing self-service technology, but it’s natural to wonder if it would take away from the quality and efficiency of the customer service experience you provide to your guests. After all, the guest experience from booking to check out is extremely important for an accommodation provider’s reputation.

Traditionally, the customer service experience provided to a guest starts at the front desk, whether the guest calls in to book a room or reaches out online through chat. From there, the agent takes care of the booking process by helping the guest choose a room, amenities, and other aspects of their accommodation, including upsells and cross-sells. Then online bookings came out, where robust booking software can now take care of every aspect of booking, from choosing specific campsites to adding on amenities to your stay, like a kayak rental or bottle of wine waiting in your hotel room on arrival. 

As booking software becomes better able to accommodate a guest’s every need, you might be wondering about your frontline staff, and of course, frontline staff may wonder if their jobs are going to be lost to machines. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Most accommodation providers probably won’t want to eliminate all of their frontline staff, as there are always guests who will prefer to deal with someone in person, and if the self-service tech goes down, someone should be around to help guests. On the other hand, it’s likely that you’ll be able to reduce some hours, especially outside of regular daytime hours, and instead have guests manually check-in through a self-service kiosk or online. 

With less reliance on front desk staff for general check-in and check-out and other small tasks that guests can complete themselves, it frees up time for these individuals to focus on more valuable tasks, like learning about guest preferences through analytics or providing more complex customer support to guests who need it

Following along the vein of online booking are more self-service travel options. These align with the fact that guests want more tailored experiences, as self-service options allow them to completely control every aspect of their travel. When combined with artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and analytics software, accommodation providers can glean more data than ever before to tailor their self-service systems and automated processes to provide the best guest experience.

Types of Self-Service Technology in Hospitality Industry

Self-service technology in the hospitality industry encompasses a variety of tools and platforms designed to enhance the guest experience, streamline operations, and improve efficiency. The table below outlines some common types of self-service technology used in hospitality:

Hotel Self-Service Technology OptionDescription
Mobile Check-in and Keyless EntryGuests can check in to their accommodations remotely using their smartphones and receive digital room keys, allowing them to bypass the front desk and access their rooms directly.
In-Room Tablets or AppsSome hotels provide in-room tablets or mobile apps that allow guests to control room features such as temperature, lighting, TV channels, and room service orders. Guests can also access information about hotel amenities, local attractions, and dining options through these devices instead of relying on print materials, offering a more sustainable and eco-friendly option to provide information. 
Self-Service KiosksSelf-service kiosks in the lobby or other common areas provide a place where guests can check in, check out, print boarding passes, and access other services without assistance from hotel staff. 
Newbook offers user-friendly self-service kiosks that work seamlessly with the property management software for a complete solution.
Automated Guest Feedback SystemsAn automated guest feedback system is a great way to solicit feedback from guests about their stay via email, text message, or in-room tablets. This allows accommodation providers to gather valuable insights into guest satisfaction and identify areas for improvement in real-time.
Online Booking PlatformsGuests can browse available rooms, view photos and descriptions, check pricing and availability, and make reservations through hotel websites or third-party booking platforms. This allows guests to book accommodations at their convenience from anywhere with an internet connection. 
Newbook’s online booking engine allows guests to choose campsites from a map, gives them suggested dates if the ones they want are taken, and allows them to add amenities during the booking process.
Digital Concierge ServicesVirtual concierge services provide guests with personalized recommendations for dining, entertainment, and activities based on their preferences and interests. These services are often accessible through in-room tablets, mobile apps, or voice-activated devices.

Benefits of Using Self-Service Technology

benefits-of-self-service-technology

Embracing self-service technology offers numerous advantages for both hoteliers and guests alike. From cost savings to enhanced guest experiences, here are some key benefits of incorporating self-service technology in the hospitality industry:

1. Cost Savings

Implementing self-service technology in hotels can lead to significant cost savings by reducing the need for manual labor and streamlining operational processes. With automated check-in and check-out systems, hotels can optimize staff resources and minimize labor costs associated with traditional front desk operations. Additionally, self-service kiosks enable guests to handle routine tasks independently, freeing up staff to focus on delivering personalized service and addressing guest needs more efficiently. By automating repetitive tasks and minimizing reliance on manual intervention, hotels can achieve greater operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the long run.

2. Gives the Guest More Control Over Their Experience

Self-service technology empowers guests to take greater control over their hospitality experience, allowing them to personalize their stay according to their preferences and needs: 

  • With mobile check-in and keyless entry, guests can bypass traditional check-in processes and enjoy a seamless arrival experience. 
  • In-room tablets or online self-service portals enable guests to adjust room settings, request amenities, and explore hotel services at their convenience, putting them in the driver’s seat of their stay. 

By offering self-service options, hotels cater to the growing demand for autonomy and flexibility among modern travelers, enhancing overall guest satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Provides Convenience and Fast Service

One of the primary benefits of self-service technology in hospitality is the convenience and speed it provides to both guests and staff. Mobile check-in allows guests to complete the check-in process remotely, eliminating the need to wait in line at the front desk upon arrival. Similarly, self-service kiosks enable quick and hassle-free check-in and check-out experiences, reducing wait times and enhancing guest satisfaction. By leveraging technology to automate routine tasks and minimize manual intervention, hotels can deliver faster service and improve the overall efficiency of their operations.

4. Smoother Operations

Self-service technology helps streamline hotel operations and enhance workflow efficiency by automating key processes and reducing dependency on manual labor. Automated check-in and check-out systems minimize errors and eliminate paperwork, leading to smoother and more streamlined front desk operations. In-room tablets or mobile apps enable guests to communicate their requests directly to hotel staff, facilitating faster response times and more efficient service delivery. Additionally, self-service kiosks provide guests with convenient access to essential services and information, further optimizing operational efficiency and enhancing the overall guest experience. By embracing self-service technology, hotels can create a more agile and responsive operational framework, enabling them to adapt to changing guest needs and market dynamics more effectively.

5. Enhanced Data Collection and Analysis

Self-service technology enables hotels to gather valuable data on guest preferences, behavior, and feedback, which can be analyzed to drive informed decision-making, personalized marketing campaigns, and service improvements. 

For instance, accommodation providers can gain a deeper understanding of individual guest preferences and behaviors by analyzing data collected through self-service channels such as:

  • Mobile apps
  • In-room tablets
  • Online booking platforms

This allows accommodation providers to tailor services, amenities, and promotional offers to meet the specific needs and interests of each guest, enhancing the overall guest experience and fostering loyalty. By continuously monitoring and analyzing guest feedback and performance metrics, hotels can drive continuous improvement and innovation, staying ahead of the competition and delighting guests with exceptional service and experiences.

6. Provides a Competitive Advantage

Hotels that embrace self-service technology differentiate themselves in the market by offering modern, convenient, and personalized experiences that meet the expectations of today’s tech-savvy travelers. This can lead to increased bookings, higher occupancy rates, and improved brand loyalty. Self-service technology enables hotels to adapt quickly and effectively to changing consumer preferences and market dynamics. 

By embracing innovation and investing in emerging technologies, hotels can stay at the forefront of industry trends and anticipate future guest expectations. Whether implementing contactless check-in solutions, integrating AI-powered chatbots, or offering virtual concierge services, hotels can continuously innovate and enhance their offerings to meet the evolving needs of modern travelers. By demonstrating a commitment to innovation and customer-centricity, hotels can position themselves as industry leaders and gain a competitive advantage in the market.

Potential Challenges of Hotel Self-Service Technology & Solutions

While the benefits of implementing self-service technology are evident in streamlining operations and enhancing guest experiences, challenges inevitably arise. Let’s delve into some of these challenges and explore viable solutions to mitigate their impact.

1. Can Have Higher Startup Costs

Investing in self-service technology for hotels often comes with a significant initial financial outlay. From implementing self-check-in kiosks to developing mobile apps for guest services, the startup costs can be daunting for hoteliers, particularly those operating on tight budgets.

Solution: To address this challenge, accommodation providers can explore flexible financing options or consider phased implementations. Partnering with technology providers that offer scalable solutions and transparent pricing structures can also help manage upfront costs.

2. Technology Anxiety

Introducing new technology into hotel operations can trigger anxiety among staff members who may fear job displacement or struggle with the learning curve associated with unfamiliar systems.

Solution: Effective communication and comprehensive training programs are essential to alleviate technology anxiety among staff. Emphasizing the benefits of self-service technology in improving efficiency and guest satisfaction can help garner employee buy-in and foster a culture of innovation.

3. Security Issues

With the increasing digitization of hotel services, concerns surrounding data security and privacy have become more pronounced. Unauthorized access to guest information or breaches in payment processing systems can undermine trust and tarnish a hotel’s reputation.

Solution: Newbook prioritizes security at every level of its operations, implementing robust encryption protocols and stringent access controls to safeguard sensitive data. With Newbook, all your data is stored on US soil and protected by robust cybersecurity measures. By partnering with trusted technology providers with a proven track record in cybersecurity, hotels can bolster their defenses against potential threats and reassure guests of their commitment to protecting their information.

4. Possibility of System Failure

Despite advancements in technology, the possibility of system failure remains a persistent concern for hoteliers. Downtime resulting from technical glitches or maintenance issues can disrupt operations, leading to delays in guest services and revenue loss.

Solution: Newbook offers a 99.99% uptime guarantee, ensuring uninterrupted access to essential hotel management systems. By leveraging cloud-based solutions and implementing redundant infrastructure, hotels can minimize the risk of system failure and maintain operational continuity even in the event of unforeseen disruptions.

Since most software offers a 99% uptime guarantee, you might not think that an extra .99% makes a big difference. But when we break it down into actual time, it’s easy to see why you’d prefer to go with 99.99% rather than 99%:

Uptime Guarantee Time
99% uptimePotential downtime of 3 days, 15 hours, and 39 minutes.
99.99% uptimeA max potential downtime of 52 minutes and 35 seconds annual downtime
hotel software newbook

5. Ease of Use

The success of self-service technology in hotels hinges on its ease of use for both guests and staff. Complex interfaces or cumbersome processes can deter adoption and detract from the overall guest experience.

Solution: Prioritizing user-friendly design and intuitive interfaces is paramount in ensuring the seamless integration of self-service technology. Conducting usability testing and soliciting feedback from stakeholders can help identify pain points and refine the user experience to maximize usability and satisfaction.

Tips for Embracing Self-Service Technology for Your Accommodation Business

embracing-self-service-technology

Embracing self-service technology as an accommodation provider is extremely important to stay competitive and on-trend and to meet guest expectations. However, implementing this technology can seem daunting. Here are some important tips to help you effectively implement self-service technology the first time:

1. Map the End-to-End Guest Journey

It’s important to understand how a typical guest interacts with your business through all of your channels, including in-person and online. When you’re able to map out the end-to-end journey, it’s easier to see where implementing self-service technology would help streamline operations or reduce bottlenecks. For instance, maybe your upsells are low because it’s difficult for your frontline staff to see all of the offers that you have available at one time and sift through them all to see what’s applicable to the guest in front of them. Through AI algorithms, the right suggestions for upsells can be presented to the right guest at the right time through the online booking process, so the guest can just select what they need when they book online. In addition, this same process can be used for your frontline staff, letting the computer select the right offers for the right guest. 

2. Start Small and Scale Up Gradually

When introducing self-service technology to your accommodation business, start with small-scale pilot programs or limited deployments to test the effectiveness of the solutions and identify areas for improvement. Gather feedback from guests and staff throughout the implementation process, and use this feedback to refine your approach and expand your self-service offerings gradually over time.

3. Invest in Staff Training and Support

While self-service technology can streamline many aspects of your accommodation business, it’s essential to invest in staff training and support to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing success. Provide comprehensive training to frontline staff on how to use and support the self-service solutions you’ve implemented, and encourage them to embrace these technologies as tools to enhance guest experiences rather than replace human interaction.

4. Monitor Performance and Adapt

Once your self-service technology is up and running, monitor its performance closely and gather data on usage patterns, guest feedback, and operational efficiency. Use this data to identify areas for optimization and refinement, and be prepared to adapt your approach based on changing guest needs and market dynamics. By continuously monitoring and refining your self-service initiatives, you can ensure that they remain relevant and effective in meeting the evolving needs of your accommodation business and guests.

Conclusion

Embracing self-service technology in the accommodation business offers a multitude of benefits, from cost savings to enhanced guest experiences. By giving guests more control over their stay, providing convenience and fast service, and streamlining operations, accommodation providers can stay competitive and meet the evolving expectations of modern travelers. However, navigating the implementation of self-service technology comes with its challenges, from high startup costs to concerns about security and system reliability. 

By adopting a strategic approach, investing in staff training and support, and continuously monitoring and adapting to feedback, accommodation providers can successfully overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of self-service technology to elevate their offerings and drive business growth. With the right tools and mindset, embracing self-service technology can be a game-changer for the hospitality industry, enhancing efficiency, personalization, and overall guest satisfaction.

Newbook offers a wide range of self-service technology options that you can choose from to suit your accommodation business’s unique needs. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help you boost revenue and streamline your operations.

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