With technology taking over the end-to-end guest experience, what will the future of travel look like when guests check in at hotels?
When you look at the responsibilities of front desk employees, it is evident that almost all reception tasks can be digitalised and automated. The distribution of room keys has been replaced by digital keys that guests can automatically connect to their smartphones; registering the guest in and confirming their check-in on arrival can now be done via a confirmation payment and link before the guest arrives at the hotel; and verifying reservations is completed 48hrs before arrival with an automated email and text message. Hotels can now have access to automate the guest journey with a digital solution that keeps guests feeling empowered. With more hotels being forced to adopt a new way forward with technology, it can only mean significant changes for the industry – so what does our future look like if the front desk is, in fact, no longer needed?
Hotels are adopting contactless technology through cloud-based apps and software, making the front desk underutilised. With the rise of self-service and online booking technologies, guests can check in without interacting with staff, which is already a standard process for travellers today. Travellers worldwide are already adopting this method when staying at Airbnb or using other share economy accommodations. They book online, pay online, get instructions via a message, and then either get personally let in or given a code to enter the accommodation. Guest experiences can be positive every time with the right technology in place as you remove the human error component, remove long wait times for check-in and directly communicate with your guests at any time. A contactless digital experience is a direction forward with self-service accommodation and budget hotels.
In contrast, luxury hotels have a hybrid approach and are likely to use a combination of technology and traditional front desk methods that actually include staff. Human connection and service will remain part of the luxury experience hotels provide. They will continue to use customer-facing staff members, such as front desk clerks, bellhops, and concierge services, to ensure that guests receive the best possible service. There is still a level of importance for a doorman to take your luggage to your room and personally welcome you to the hotel. These factors contribute to details that add valuable experiences to a hotel and set one hotel apart from the next. Hotels are also investing in intelligent PMS technology that allows for a complete digital guest journey, such as automated check-in systems, online booking, digital keys, and customised room settings combined with staff connections, might be the way forward for luxury hotels –allowing them to cover all guest experience needs as possible.
"Even if a luxury hotel chooses to include staff to assist guests, there is still a matter of technology at play," says Stephen Martin, Chief Sales Officer from RMS Cloud.
"Scheduling, communicating and looking up guest information are required to provide a high-level experience. Martin continues to add that technology still plays a vital part in how staff can deliver authentic guest experiences, "for instance, the RMS Cloud platform allows you to save 'Golden Guest Records' that allow staff to input critical information about guests. Let's say they have a gluten allergy. All staff can see this and ensure they deliver on providing gluten-free options every time they visit or across different F&B in the hotel." RMS' powerful software is designed to deliver ultimate guest experiences and can communicate across multiple locations (anywhere in the world) to tap into this information to ensure guests always have a good stay at any of your hotels.
The future of hotels is undoubtedly driven by advancing technology and will involve more self-service options for guests. Hospitality is more than just providing a representative at the front desk; it is about creating a seamless solution for guests to check in to a hotel, feel safe and know they are being looked after. A hybrid solution that gives guests the autonomy to use their smartphone for a complete end-to-end digital process whilst having the luxury of staff will before a preferred method for high-end hotels. For budget and fast business travel hotels – the front desk is largely already redundant – guests will want to seamlessly move in and out of a hotel quickly and cheaply which means that a complete digital experience is rapidly becoming a common expectation.
For more on the RMS Guest Portal and hope it can deliver a contactless guest experience at your property, click here.