Travelers are More Tech-Savvy Then Ever, Plus OTA’s & The Sharing Economy Have Led to Increased Price Sensitivity. Can Self-Service Lend a Competitive Edge?

The hospitality industry continues to be one of the most interesting in recent decades. 2018 was another record year. Occupancy levels, average daily rate (ADR), and revenue per available room (RevPAR) all increased year-over-year. Previous concerns over a possible decline in tourism to gateway cities proved to be generally unfounded. Yet, complications exist. The labor market is tight: unemployment is at a historically low rate, and wages are on the rise. The rise of Online Travel Agents (OTA’s) with tremendous aggregation power continues to drive customer price sensitivity, and the sharing economy (think Airbnb and VRBO) serve as significant disruptors over the last several years alone. There has never been more inventory on the market.

According to data collected from the IBM Survey and Kiosk Marketplace Surveys, this is what your digital-first guest looks like today: Eighty-eight percent (88%) expect digital engagement. Sixty-One Percent (61%) are willing to use a completely automated experience. Seventy-eight percent (78%) say their experiences using an automated service was positive, and fifty-two percent (52%) indicated that they prefer self-service tech over human interaction.

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So where do you start? Well, start with what matters most. Identify the moments that can drastically alter your guest’s perception of the experience. These moments might seem obvious, but a Cornell Hospitality Study has shown that you can have two IDENTICAL hotels, equally beautiful, pleasant, and comfortable, and one single thing can affect your customer’s satisfaction by up to forty-seven percent (47%): check-in time. If the wait time to check-in is over 5 minutes, your customers don’t just not like it, they hate it.

So… the first thing to focus on is making sure that wait doesn’t happen. Let them check in themselves with a self-service kiosk. Start with your most valuable customers and make the first check-in moments streamlined. Perhaps make this visible to other customers to encourage loyalty. Second, think about all the moments after check-in where your hotel policies/procedures might serve as an inhibitor to your guest getting to what they want to do. Perhaps it’s too long waiting at the elevator. Perhaps it’s too complicated to order room service, or check-out, or get the internet password, or find the concierge. Whatever the issue, identify those friction points and start fixing them. (By the way, it doesn’t always have to be a technology solution. Slow elevators have been using a simple trick to keep user-complaints non-existent even with very bad performance: mirrors. Riders don’t complain when waiting as long if they can stare at their own reflection.)

The implications of this connected hotels paint an interesting future. A future where our patron can walk in, check-in, and be-in an environment of their preferences within minutes. When she walks into her room, why can’t the temperature be set the way she likes? The music the music she likes? The lighting softer than normal? Why can’t her room let her know, as she’s walking out, that it’s likely to rain and she should grab a coat and umbrella? It’s all possible… and increasingly within grasp. What’s more, is your customer will thank you in the most important way: their loyalty.

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For more information or to inquire about ZIVELO for your business visit kiosks.zivelo.com/motion or call 877.734.7063