Digital Check-in - Not a One Size Fits All Solution for Every Hotel

Digital Check-in - Not a One Size Fits All Solution for Every Hotel

In this new normal brought on by the pandemic, technology will play an integral role in enabling hotels to successfully reopen and answer to the new demands from their increasingly health and safety-conscious guests. It’s safe to say that technology will act as the key enabler of new working and operating models in the hospitality industry.

When it comes to hospitality tech, the keywords here are: touchless, frictionless, contactless and engagement This needs to apply to the key points in the guest journey, giving guests the sense of safety, convenience, and control they are looking for.

The real test for hoteliers in this regard is how successfully they’ll transform their check-in experience from in person to digital. Digitizing the check-in/check-out processes is an opportunity for hotels to eliminate queuing at the front desk and to minimize the need for contact between guests and staff.

The United States has seen a 20 percent increase in preference for contactless operations, with numerous industries adapting to this change. McKinsey

However, hoteliers are voicing concerns about the real cost of these solutions and how they would, once implemented, impact wider hotel operations. Instead of digitizing the whole process, some hotels just want a thoughtful solution to address the complications of Covid 19.

Let’s take a look at the most common barriers to adoption of contactless check-in technology.

Barriers to Digital Check-in Adoption

High costs of implementation. Is the actual price of contactless check-in solutions higher than advertised? Hoteliers are dreading the additional costs of introducing a fully contactless check-in, which implies upgrading or changing all the locks to enable room access with mobile key. This would, without a doubt, be a significant investment and a deal breaker for hotels who are already dealing with low occupancy due to the pandemic.

Insecurity about wider guest adoption. How do hotels provide 100% of their guests a touchless check-in experience? Is this option really ideal for every guest? The worry is guests don’t want to be bothered with downloading an app or that their less tech savvy guests won’t be comfortable using a mobile app to open their room doors. A percentage of people will always prefer the traditional key card instead.

Lack of integrations with existing systems. Hoteliers are worried that contactless check-in is something they’d have to manage and operate in isolation from their existing technology ecosystem. Can it work seamlessly with other systems their hotel is using to operate efficiently, like their payment providers, PMS, and CRM systems? These are all big concerns when considering to adopt a new piece of technology.

So, what is the solution?

Ideally, hotels will find not just a solution provider but a technology partner and consultant they can work with to implement a custom, cost effective solution that best suits theirs and the needs of their guests. There’s no single solution to introducing a contactless check-in and it’s important for hotels to understand their options.

  • Want to deliver a fully touchless experience to guests and you have a budget for it? Implement a mobile check-in with mobile key access.
  • You are budget cautious and your guests aren’t mostly tech savvy business, millennials and gen Z travellers? Enable a remote check-in from their personal device and let guests simply pick up a key upon arrival.
  • You’re ok with introducing new ‘hardware’ to give your guests more check-in flexibility? Then a remote check-in with an automated key dispenser at the kiosk in your lobby is a good choice.

There are companies out there who will look at your property’s needs holistically and suggest solutions that align with your technology goals but also provide your guests with the option they’re most comfortable using.

Solutions like avery enable a remote check-in enabling you to choose how your hotel wants to issue keys (mobile key, front desk pickup, kiosk). Everything is done remotely: guests check-in digitally by following a link they received via SMS, they confirm their identity by capturing the photo ID, authorize their credit card for payments, and confirm stay information all from their personal device.

avery helps your hotel limit the exchange of documents, paper forms, credit cards, and face-to-face contact between guests and staff while allowing you the flexibility to choose how you want the check-in process to look like.

avery in use

Takeaways

Industry reports suggest that contactless technology is the best path to recovery for the hospitality industry. However, hotels should find their best way to respond to Covid 19 challenges using technology solutions that fit their goals and enable a safer service to guests.

With so many options available on the market, each hotel should be able to get a custom contactless check-in solution that is convenient for their guests, fits into their budget, and improves their daily operations.

Interested in implementing a contactless check-in experience at your hotel?


Contactless In-Room Experience

Contactless In-Room Experience

While the world is still battling the pandemic, the hospitality industry is facing a battle of its own. The industry is looking towards recovery and hotels are putting plans in place how to safely and gradually reopen. No one knows quite yet how the new normal for hotels will look like, but what we do know is that the experience for guests will look and feel different.

Besides adopting new health and safety procedures, hotels will also need to adapt to the new preference for touchless technology. Guests will naturally want to avoid any unnecessary contact with hotel staff and surfaces and they’ll want to control as much of their experience as possible via their personal devices.

That’s why leading hotels already provide apps that guests can use to make their stay more enjoyable, driving both revenue and increased guest satisfaction. This is especially important for allowing guests to customize their in-room experience (everything from lighting to in-room dining) based on their preferences. Now, let’s take a look at what your guests could do with an app like avery.

Schedule Housekeeping

Hotel guests can use a Web or mobile app to schedule housekeeping for the time that’s most convenient for them and avoid any interaction with the staff. This doesn’t only make the stay more comfortable for guests, but it also introduces improvements to housekeeping operations.

For the majority of hotels, housekeeping is the service that could benefit the most from optimization of the working process. When guests request room cleanup via an app, the staff immediately gets notified on their smartphones and gets to see which rooms to prioritize. This increases staff productivity while speeding up customer service.

According to an infographic by Hotel News Now, 35% of guests would prefer to use technology to schedule housekeeping services.

Order Food

Now more than ever, guests want hotel technologies that can help them instantaneously send requests for what they need. With behavior and consumption habits changing as a consequence of the pandemic, more of your guests will want to dine in and your hotel needs to provide the easiest way for them to order from the menu.

Order food via messaging

With a solution like avery, your guests can access the menu and place an order from a Web/mobile app or from their preferred messaging app, like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. They can order a meal prepared to their preference from the comfort of their bed, making the in-room dining experience seamless and convenient.

Control the in-room settings

In the new contactless reality, guests will want to personalize their in-room experience, including things like TV, room temperature, lighting, and other amenities with one centralized app on their phone. If your guests can avoid controlling all these separate devices by hand, they’ll feel safer and more in-control of their environment.

However, controlling all aspects of a room via a guest’s mobile device may seem too complex for hoteliers, mainly because there are too many individual elements that need to be connected and controllable from a single app. Thankfully, enabling connection between these disparate systems is now relatively easy with guest experience platforms, such as avery.

Make a Payment

If your guests can request services using only their personal devices, they’ll expect the same ease when it comes to payments. Naturally, cashless and contactless is the way to go.

For example, when a guest orders a meal to their room, they’ll expect an option to pay from their mobile device. With an app like avery, they can even tip the housekeeping staff or the bellman from their phone! By enabling contactless payments you’ll provide increased security and better and faster customer service.

Access Digital Compendium

Dirty, torn compendium books in hotel rooms will soon become a thing of the past. With a digital compendium available in your hotel app or guest messaging solution, you’ll keep all the information and offers up-to-date and tailored to each guest. This also makes it a whole lot easier for guests to find the information they need (e.g. the location of the pool, restaurant working hours, drycleaning services, etc.).

With a digital compendium you can also send relevant updates to guests automatically and save a lot of time and money on updating the available information and offers.

Takeaways

When hotels start opening their doors again, they’ll need to adapt to the new reality and heightened guest expectations around health and safety. Adopting the technologies that enable contactless in-room experience will help your hotel meet a lot of those expectations, while driving revenue and streamlining operations.


The Importance of Omnichannel Guest Communication

The Importance of Omnichannel Guest Communication

Enabling seamless communication with guests via mediums of their choice instead of requiring them to adapt to something they’re not familiar with is important for your hotel marketing, sales, and the overall guest experience. Most of the guest communication has already moved to digital and mobile channels and this is only going to solidify in the post pandemic era.

To make sure that you’re reaching your guests on channels that feel most natural to them, you need to consider going beyond traditional means of communication. Texting, messaging apps, video chat, in-room tablets, kiosks, web apps or native apps – these are all different channels to engage your guests throughout their stay.

A recent study shows that 94% of business travelers and 80% of leisure travelers want to use their smartphones to request service and message staff.

While a percentage of your guests will always opt in to receive relevant information and offers via email, generations of digitally native guests will want a more instantaneous communication and access to information that’s possible via channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, SMS, in-app chat, etc.

The information you provide to your guests and the response to their inquiries should be the same regardless of the channel they choose to communicate with your hotel. Now, let’s take a look at how you can achieve that.

Providing Multiple Channels of Communication

Today’s businesses, hotels included, need to leverage technologies that fit in with our mobile, socially connected lifestyles. Making this possible may seem like a lot of work and a heavy investment but it doesn’t have to be. Working with a hotel tech provider that provides a guest engagement platform with multiple communication options and that can easily handle integration with 3rd party solutions can make this process painless for your hotel.

Even after all the different channels are set up and you’re ready to go, the right technology partner can minimize the complexity of juggling multiple channels by making management centralized, simple, and easy for everyone involved.

For example, with a platform like avery, guests can message the hotel and make service requests using various channels, and those conversations will be available in a single dashboard view instead of being spread out across multiple platforms.

You want to encourage your guests to reach out to you and let them know that your staff is there to fulfil their every need. Here’s what a typical guest communication toolkit includes.

Email communications. From booking confirmations and important info about their stay to upsell and cross-sell offers, well-timed emails tailored to your guests interests are still an incredibly effective way to engage with guests and build a relationship with them. This communication medium enables you to capture information about your guests’ preferences (business or leisure traveler, type of room, special dietary requirements, etc.) and use this info to personalize the experience, provide more value, and increase revenue per guest.

Web and/or native guest apps. You want your guests to feel connected throughout their stay so you can continually improve every aspect of their experience. The best way to achieve this is to integrate all key information, service and support functions, deal notifications, and loyalty offers into a guest app, making them available from your guests’ personal devices.

Automated messaging. From booking to post stay, there are numerous engagement points where you can start a conversation with your guests. You can leverage messaging automation via SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. to communicate with your guests on a platform they know and love. You can send automated messages based on specific triggers (guest checks in, guest makes a request, etc.) and let the system do the work for you. Not to mention that your guests can message you with questions and requests 24/7 and get instant response.

According to an OpenMarket study , 90% of hotel guests in the US said they would find communicating via messaging with a hotel useful.

Video chat. A video chat service is all about personal connection as it enables you to have face-to-face conversations with your guests. Your guests can access it from their phones and connect with your front desk staff or concierge who can help them solve any issue they may be experiencing in real time. Being available to instantly respond to requests via video chat will make every guest feel like a VIP in your hotel.

Digital signage. Hoteliers are discovering that adding digital signage displays including kiosks throughout a hotel is a great way to share important information and offers with guests during their stay. There are many different use cases for digital signage in hotels, including displaying menus and special offers, providing property directions, promoting ancillary services, enabling digital check-in, etc. Interactive screens can be a great channel for self service and also enable guests to customize their experience to see only the information that is relevant to them.

In-room tablets. This may not be a novelty for most hotels, but it is definitely a channel that’s worth mentioning. There are numerous ways to leverage in-room tablets to impress your guests and increase room revenue. The devices can be preloaded with a guest app that lets your guests order room service, book a restaurant or a spa, request a taxi, and more.

avery omnichannel avery omnichannel guest experience platform

Integration is Key

It may be difficult for hotels to piece together all the above channels so that they work seamlessly and deliver real and measurable value. Quite often, hotels use multiple guest communication channels, but they all operate in isolation. A true omnichannel approach requires integration in order to deliver a seamless guest experience across all channels and have a unified view of the guest journey.

At LasoExperience, our goal is to help simplify the management of guest communications for hotels, by providing the channels they choose, have them work together, and integrate with other 3rd party solutions that they may need as part of their toolbox.

Takeaways

Offering your guests a choice of how they want to communicate with your hotel will undoubtedly lead to greater guest satisfaction. Each guest will want something different from the customer experience, so you need to ensure that channels like mobile apps, messaging, video chat, and more are available whenever they need them.

Whether your guests want a digital concierge with 24/7 availability or just to receive relevant info and offers on their email, It’s up to you to give them what they want and bring their experience to another level.


Guest Engagement Technology for Boosting Revenues

Guest Engagement Technology for Boosting Revenues

Modern hotel technology has introduced new forms of guest communication but it also enabled hotels to capture revenue from new sources while better utilizing their in-house offerings. In the post-pandemic era, the latter has an even bigger significance since hotels will focus more on increasing total revenue per available guest.

There are plenty of ways hotels can make extra revenue beyond room night, from promoting personalized offers and value-added services to guests to integration of attractions, activities, and experiences through local partners.

But how do hotels effectively tap into this revenue potential? By using guest-facing technology like automated messaging, video chat, Web applications, digital signage, etc. as a tool to increase sales and maximize ancillary revenue opportunities. Now, let’s go over a few examples of using a guest engagement platform to drive revenue for your hotel.

Use automated messaging for upselling

Sending personalized, timely offers that can enhance your guests’ stay is essential for positively impacting revenue. For example, you can use automated guest messaging to send offers for upgrading their choice of the room directly to your guests’ phones in the days prior to their arrival.

You can introduce your hotel’s messaging solution in the booking confirmation email and take advantage of messaging apps your guests are already using, like Facebook Messenger, to send rich messages for room upgrades with photos that show off the room’s best features.

You can basically use messaging to promote any service that you consider a relevant upsell for a guest, such as a session at the spa, a breakfast buffet, etc. This is a great way for capturing their attention and engaging them through a familiar channel. The guest can then purchase or book a service directly through the chat interface, which streamlines the buying process.

Drive Food & Beverage sales

F&B is an important revenue generator for hotels, however, it is often not utilized effectively. What will make a huge difference in F&B sales going forward is making access to services easier and much more convenient for guests.

For example, the convenience of using a simple web app or a chat interface to make room service orders can help increase the number of guests using that service. The same stands for restaurant reservations or requesting food or beverage while enjoying various different amenities in your hotel (e.g. ordering cocktails by the pool or snack at the bar).

Opportunities to suggest and display items such as wines, appetizers, and dessert will increase the average check by as much as 30%.

By enabling guests to access your F&B menus via a simple Web link on their phone or within a familiar chat interface, you’ll make it easy for them to choose, order, and make instant cashless payments. And since the delivery can be done whenever and wherever your guests will have a more enjoyable experience.

avery offers and food and beverage

Integrate local partnerships and food delivery

Local partnerships with restaurants and fast foods are a great new way to capture additional revenue. Your guests are already ordering takeout to their room which is an additional cost for you and not a revenue opportunity. Why? Because you have to deliver the food to their room, clean up the room after they consume the meal, and pay to remove the trash associated with takeout orders.

Plus, you probably have a partner who is soliciting and charging these partners to advertise in your in-room compendium, of which you receive some small percentage. This is not a great business model.

In the new digital world you can get rid of the in-room paper compendium because it is now on your guests’ phone. You can allow your partners to update their offering in real time and charge them a delivery fee of, for example, $5 to cover your costs and for the privilege of having direct access to your guests. You can also provide partners with metrics as to how valuable your partnership is as well as guest feedback associated with that particular vendor.

Experiential offerings - this is why we travel today!

Authentic cuisine, museums, hiking excursions, biking, running groups, mountain climbing, river rafting, scuba diving, sightseeing, every hotel has local offerings regardless of whether you are a resort, destination, city center, suburban hotel, Inn or B&B.

Are you generating any revenue from these guest experiences? Your revenue manager needs to be researching all these opportunities. Using the right digital platform you can create a program that enables both your hotel and local vendors to capitalize on this revenue opportunity.

It can be as simple as charging to display the local partner’s offering via your hotel’s digital channels (web app, chat, digital signage, etc.), or a more sophisticated process to allow your guests to make direct reservations. Either is acceptable, doing nothing is unacceptable!

For example, with a platform like avery , you can send relevant local partner offers to guests via SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or via in-app notifications to get them excited about things they can do in the area. This is a great way to maximize your per-guest revenue without hard selling or losing touch with guests’ needs.

Takeaways

The right hotel technology can help you improve guest experience by offering them relevant products or services via the channel of their choosing. This starts right at the booking process and extends throughout your guests’ stay at your hotel. Generating incremental revenue is directly tied to prioritizing guest convenience and increasing the quality of service you deliver.

By improving the way your guests access, choose, and pay for the services you offer while at the same time pushing only relevant and timely offers, you’ll consistently increase revenue per customer which is especially important during times when you can’t rely solely on increasing your hotel’s occupancy rate.


Tame operation workload in your hotel

Tame operation workload in your hotel

When it comes to new technology investments, hotels are focusing most of their attention (and budgets) on guest-facing solutions, and rightfully so. The availability of different self-service technologies, including kiosks, digital signage, apps, and messaging has a massive impact on overall guest satisfaction.

However, the same solutions that serve to improve guest experience should also help optimize hotel operations, streamlining processes, and automating repetitive tasks. This is especially important for housekeeping, maintenance, and F&B services.

An app that enables guests to request any service from your hotel is useful and convenient for guests, but on the back end it also has to be useful to your hotel staff and managers. It should centralize task management and automate some of the mundane tasks, like sending guest requests to appropriate staff, creating progress reports, etc. Ideally, it will help you bring together previously disconnected or siloed processes.

Now, let’s take a look at how a platform like avery can help your hotel optimize service operations, track and manage tasks, and leverage data to continuously improve guest service delivery.

Let guests choose the easiest channels for them

Providing guests with different ways to interact with your staff and services has great benefits both for your guests and your hotel operations. With a simple web app, text or video chat, you’ll bring hotel services directly to your guests’ personal devices allowing them to request services in a way that is most convenient for them.

With a hotel tech solution like avery, everything happens with a few taps of a button. Guests no longer have to wait on a call with the front desk to be directed to the right department, instead their requests go automatically to the appropriate staff. This also reduces operational bottlenecks, makes your staff more productive, and raises your guest’s happiness with your service.

Task dashboard screens for dedicated departments

Your housekeeping and maintenance department managers need to have a convenient way to track, prioritize, and manage tasks. With avery, the appropriate staff is automatically alerted by SMS and in-app notification when a guest makes the request and they can report on their progress (e.g. complete the task) with a simple swipe on their phone.

No time is wasted on data entry so managers can see what’s happening in real-time and act much faster if there are any issues that require their attention.

request maintenance

For example, they can analyze the data on maintenance requests per unit to make timely recommendations for proactive maintenance. So, if they notice that one room got 5 light bulb replacements in a month, this can be an indicator of an electrical issue that needs to be taken care of. Proactive maintenance reduces breakdowns and associated maintenance costs over the long run while minimizing guest complaints about broken equipment.

For multi-property groups and hotel chains, it’s important to mention that the system centralizes service requests data from all locations in one dashboard, presenting the task lists and progress reports visually to provide a clear picture of performance across locations.

Front desk - management overview

Your front desk can’t work efficiently without timely and accurate information about the status of all rooms and associated tasks. Unlike department managers that have a dashboard view of tasks specific to their departments, your front desk has a birds’ eye view of everything that’s going on.

They get real-time information on housekeeping and maintenance tasks per unit, as well as access to performance analytics in a single dashboard. Front desk staff can track closed tasks, in-progress tasks, and tasks that are still in the ‘to do’ list, so they can quickly prioritize work when needed and help services staff be more productive.

front desk dashboard

Escalation rules

In the avery dashboard, the front desk or department managers can easily configure how the tasks are being handled and reacted to so that a task that isn’t being completed in time can be escalated based on a predetermined rule.

For example:

  • If a request for towels is sitting in to-do list > 15 minutes → send SMS to housekeeping manager
  • If the task is in progress > 30 minutes → send SMS to Manager on Duty

escalation rules

It’s also important to use the information on request completion/delays to adjust the communication with guests throughout the process.

Takeaways

Hotels that use a system like avery can improve their operations by automating mundane tasks, streamlining housekeeping and maintenance processes, and empowering their staff to make informed decisions to drive business improvement and increased guest satisfaction.


Human touch in contactless world with video calls

Human touch in contactless world with video calls

In the post-pandemic era, reinventing the guest experience with technology in order to create a frictionless and contactless experience has become one of the top priorities for hotels. However, there shouldn’t be a trade-off between keeping the personal touch in guest interactions and enabling digital guest touch points. The one complements the other and provides a competitive edge for forward thinking hotels.

A great example of how technology can balance these seemingly opposing currents is video chat service for personalized connections with your guests.

Video chat lets you maintain meaningful human interactions via a digital channel that borrows a lot from the physical world, enabling you to have face-to-face conversations with your guests. A hotel video chat solution allows your guests to use their personal device and connect with your front desk staff or concierge with one touch of a button.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of video chat for hotels and their guests.

Streamlined Guest Onboarding

Video chat can help accelerate various processes in your hotel, starting with guest onboarding. You can use video chat as a form of KYC (i.e. know your customer) validation to enable remote pre-check in for guests and provide them with a virtual frontdesk.

With guest experience platforms like avery, you can leverage video chat with guests during the onboarding phase in two ways:

  • As a default check in option for guests looking to avoid checking in at the front desk
  • As part of the FaceID check in, using video chat in case photoID and face do not match.

In both cases, the front desk staff gives the final say if the guest can be checked in and then allocates the room and issues a digital key to the guest with one press of a button.

Ideally, your video chat solution will be integrated with guest messaging to enable a smooth experience. For example, a guest can inform front desk staff during video chat about their arrival time and you can then send personalized notifications to greet them, let them know when their room is ready, and more.

Faster Problem Resolution

Video chat is a fast and convenient way for guests to connect directly to the front desk or customer service team who can help them solve any issue they may be experiencing in real time. These can be minor requests e.g. guests need fresh towels or a wake up call, or they could make specific concierge service requests with the touch of a button.

Enabling this level of service is particularly important for your loyal and VIP guests so you can keep strengthening those relationships no matter the changes in the way services are delivered in your hotel. Being available to instantly respond to requests via video chat will provide a richer sense of presence and show to your most valuable guests that there is a human on the other side of the call available to tend to their every need.

Greater Convenience for Guests

Even if your hotel provides self service options through an app or digital support via live chat, a percentage of your guests will always look for person-to-person contact. In the light of changes in customer preferences and behavior after the covid-19 pandemic, these guests will also try to minimize physical contact with your staff and surfaces.

This is where video chat comes in as the most convenient way to provide service that most closely resembles in-person interactions. At the touch of a button on their smartphone, your guests can get a personalized experience from the comfort of their room.

Budget Friendly and Easy to Implement

Hotel video chat solutions are easy to implement and, since your guests will use their smartphones to connect with your staff, they don’t require investment in additional hardware. This means that you can scale up easily with only limitation being availability of staff to accommodate any spikes in usage.

Intuitive and User Friendly Technology

When implementing any new technology, you need to take into consideration how easy it is to use both for your staff and guests. With video chat, you don’t have to worry about the learning curve since the majority of your guests are most likely using video chat in everyday communication. The fact that a video chat solution can be accessed from a guest’s browser with no need to download anything to their phone makes it even more accessible and convenient.

Integral Part of the Hotel Technology Ecosystem

Video chat isn’t just another digital channel that your hotel has to manage and operate. Ideally, it will be integrated with other systems your hotel is using (e.g. guest messaging, FaceID, Web apps, PMS, etc.) to operate efficiently and optimize the guest experience.

For example, if a guest initiates a video chat with your staff to request room cleaning service, with proper integrations in place a notification will be sent to the housekeeping staff and the progress of the request will be tracked and recorded in the system. So, make sure to work with a provider that can help you tie systems and processes together to ensure that you get maximum benefit from your video chat solution.

Takeaways

Hospitality industry is facing a challenge to enable more self service options for guests and to deliver a more streamlined, contactless guest experience. While going through these massive changes, hotels need to find a way to maintain personal relationships with guests. Video chat surfaces as the ideal platform to deliver personalized, face-to-face communication without physical contact. By implementing this technology, hotels will be able to successfully deliver value and provide better support for their guests throughout their stay.


Face recognition for contactless check in

Face recognition for contactless check in

Even before the covid-19 pandemic, facial recognition was starting to weave its way into our daily lives. We accessed our mobile devices using our face, express identity platforms like Clear allowed us to move swiftly through airport checkpoints, hotels were looking into using faceID to end long lines at check in.

Now with the pandemic in full force, FaceID adoption in the hospitality industry may escalate as guests demand a touchless and frictionless journey from their home to their hotel room and beyond. Self service and contactless technology are coming into focus as hotels need to find ways to deliver the level of service they’re guests will expect pertaining to unnecessary staff, guest, and surface interaction.

Technology, naturally, becomes the key enabler of seamless and frictionless guest experiences in this new normal but only if hotels can:

  • Make educated decisions on their technology investments
  • Understand the importance of integrating new technology with their existing tech stack
  • Champion the adoption of new technology among their staff
  • Know how to market the new technology to their guests and incentivize them to use it.

These are all important prerequisites for the successful implementation of any new system, especially something completely novel to the industry as a whole such as Facial Recognition technology.

If contactless service is the new hospitality industry mantra for increased guest satisfaction, then hotels need to look into FaceID technology as one of the ways to secure their competitiveness in the changing market.

What is Facial Recognition Technology?

Facial recognition systems fall under the category of biometric technology and are used to verify personal identity by analyzing people’s facial features. These systems can compare a scanned image or a video frame with a database of known faces to find a match. This is called biometric authentication and there are numerous use cases for this technology in the hospitality industry.

What most hotels are probably familiar with are self service kiosks with FaceID technology that are used to quickly verify guest’s identity, pull up their reservations, check them in, authorize payments, and more.

FaceID Technology in the Hospitality Industry

One of the major focus areas for hotels going forward will be figuring out how to efficiently handle the influx of guests without compromising on safety. In the light of the increased customer demand for contactless service, FaceID technology becomes one of the best ways to automate various authentication processes across the guest journey.

Check in/ Check out

The promise of FaceID technology for hotel guests lies in a more frictionless experience that eliminates the need for room keys, cards, or hotel apps. Hotels can use the technology to verify guest identity in order to streamline the check in process and grant them access to their room.

Facial recognition solutions like the one provided by avery power the guest onboarding process by enabling pre-check in with FaceID. This means that the guests can ‘enroll’ their face and their ID before coming to the hotel using their personal device so they can skip the line at the front desk and check-in at the FaceID kiosk.

Photo ID recognition

Checking in at the kiosk is super fast and easy - a guest just scans their face and their ID to verify their identity and get their digital room key.

Hotels that are using identity kiosks are reporting reduced check-in times and increased guest satisfaction with the check in/check out process. This is also a signal to guests who are concerned about health risks associated with their stay that you automate the key touchpoints in their journey to provide additional comfort and a sense of security.

Payment Authorisation

Facial recognition technology can make your guests’ lives a whole lot easier if used to authorise payments at your property. No cash, no credit cards, just a quick facial scan and they can pay for their food, amenities, activities, and accommodation. If you could confirm a payment just with the camera on your phone or at the FaceID kiosk, wouldn’t you find that much easier than using a card? Your guests certainly would.

This is another touchpoint that normally requires interaction with hotel employees and that guests can now easily manage on their own. For example, your guests could quickly make payments during their stay for things like food and beverage orders, in-room purchases, and they could use the FaceID kiosk to check out and pay for their stay.

FaceID and Your Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are another great use case of facial recognition technology in hotels. Using FaceID, you can onboard a guest into your loyalty program once and they can be recognized as a member at any of the hotels within the brand or hotel collection.

A FaceID system can identify member guests at the check in and activate their loyalty accounts. This drastically reduces the friction associated with loyalty program registration and use, not to mention the improved guest experience when their stay is tailored to their preferences and interests.

FaceID can also be used to recognize your VIP guests, and if the system is integrated with automated messaging, your staff can be alerted with details about the guest empowering them to provide a highly personalized service to your most important guests.

Privacy Concerns with FaceID

An individual’s biometric data is personal and sensitive and hotels that want to introduce facial recognition need to ensure data privacy for their guests. It’s only natural that some people have concerns about FaceID and how their biometric information will be collected, used, and stored.

Not everyone is happy to give more of their personal information away in exchange for more convenience. However, if you’re working with the right provider and have good data privacy practices in place, you can minimize those concerns.

When introducing a new technology like facial recognition, you’ll need to focus on transparency and security to build trust with your guests and prove that the FaceID system uses their data to provide real value and more safe and frictionless experience during their stay at your hotel.

Takeaways

Implementing facial recognition technology in your hotel can make you a leader in technological innovation in your industry. But being perceived as an innovator shouldn’t be a goal by itself. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, you need to understand how you can best leverage this technology to improve your operations and enhance guest experience in a meaningful way.


Era of personal devices in hospitality

Era of personal devices in hospitality

Our smartphones have become a way for us to enhance our reality and we carry them with us at all times. Still, hotels are not leveraging this enough. Utilizing guests’ mobile phones make their experience better but it also helps hotels reduce staff workload and optimize internal operations.

In the post-covid era, hotels will have to work hard to regain user confidence and to prove that they can provide a safe stay and great service without unnecessary human interaction. This means relying more on automation as well as enabling access to their services from guests’ personal devices in order to minimize contact between surfaces, guests, and hotel staff.

Nowadays, there’s no real obstacle to providing services like mobile check-in, mobile keys, and mobile service requests or direct communication with the front desk. Hotels can also enable their guests to control in-room settings with their smartphones, including things like lights, TV, and room temperature. The technology is already there and hotels can provide all this through mobile apps without having to invest in additional hardware like in-room tablets or front desk kiosks.

A Shift to Contactless Touch

This may sound counterintuitive but it isn’t. The idea behind the ‘contactless touch’ model of service in hotels is to provide safe interaction with guests via their smartphones without necessarily losing the human touch.

A great example of this is video chat for guest service - the hotel concierge or front desk staff can have personal interaction with guests without physical contact. They can provide immediate resolution to any concerns they might have, answer their questions, and even accept service requests. Headline picture depicts the experience within avery from both front desk and guest side.

Video chat may be a novelty for hotels, but guests are already using it in their daily communication. Tapping into guests’ communication habits and being available to provide personalized service via their mobile devices will be a huge differentiating factor for hotels moving forward.

Self-service via Personal Devices

When the Covid19 pandemic is over, the hospitality industry will have to adapt to the new normal. Among other things, this means relying more on contactless technology as we’ll see consumer demand shift towards hotels that have adapted to this model of service.

It’s important to understand that personal devices will play an even bigger role in every stage of the guest journey. But what does this mean in practice? What will guests’ expectations look like for different touchpoints of their stay?

In the pre-arrival stage, guests will want to book services and activities ahead of time from their own devices. A hotel app that provides information about available activities, services, and amenities and allows fast booking is the most convenient way for guests to plan their stay. And it doesn’t need to be a traditional downloadable mobile app. Today everything is an app. At avery guest experience is the primary focus and it provides guests with the information and interaction with the channel they prefer - messaging and web apps sent as simple links or embedded into pre-arrival emails. The best thing is these web apps can become a home screen app by simply bookmarking them.

With this approach, guests do not need to go to the app store and download the app but have the app available from the moment they book by simply accessing the link, and you will have an opportunity to upsell them on your services well before they step foot through your door.

At the arrival, guests will want to skip the line at the front desk or at the check-in kiosk and just use faceID to get their mobile room key issued. Seamless check-in and out with zero time waste and no guest/staff interaction will become the new norm and personal devices will be the key enabler of this trend.

During their stay, guests will want to get access to as many services as possible via their smartphones. If a guest can easily order food and beverage by browsing through your catalog on their phone, if they can ask for clean towels with a couple of taps, and book a car from the same app, they’ll feel like they have better control over their experience.

Post stay, you can send follow-ups and loyalty offerings to guests, promoting continuous engagement, and fostering sustainable guest loyalty.

Personalization

With proper integrations in place, you’ll have data around user behavior that allows you to tailor your service to guest preferences.

The application data can supplement the data from your CRM so you can provide personalized service and offers to guests based on their previous stays or specific events. This enables a personalized guest experience that treats every guest like an individual, rather than a number.

Face id checkin avery

Takeaways

By enabling guest experiences that are specifically designed for their personal devices, you’ll make your guests’ stay more comfortable and convenient, increasing their overall satisfaction with your hotel. Technology may never be a complete replacement for traditional service, but it is a way to enhance it and create digital touchpoints that more and more guests will be turning to in the near future.


Hotel Technology: Embracing the New Normal

Hotel Technology: Embracing the New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a paralyzing effect on the hospitality industry. With the whole world at a standstill, people have canceled their travel plans or postponed them for an indefinite period. Hotels are sitting empty and no one knows how long it will take before people feel comfortable to travel again.

These are unprecedented times and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. But in the midst of it all, hotels still have business decisions to make and new strategies to put in place to prepare for the recovery.

For most hotels going back to ‘business as usual’ won’t be an option. They’ll have to make significant changes in order to ensure they’re well positioned to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic economy.

There are no playbooks for this but one thing is certain – we can’t rely on the old ways of thinking as the ‘new normal’ simply won’t allow for hotels to operate as they used to.

Prepare for the new normal

The current crisis is impacting every segment of the hotel business, from booking and reservations, to revenue management, operations, F&B and marketing and sales. Hotels can you use this down time to re-evaluate each of these areas and adapt budgets and strategies for the new normal.

None of us know exactly what this ‘new normal’ will look like, but we will likely see huge changes in the hospitality industry both on the demand and supply side. Guest behavior will undoubtedly change and the familiar patterns of how they consume products and services will change, too.

New behaviors will be shaped by hard lessons learned during the pandemic and people will form new habits around heightened need for security, health, and safety in all aspects of life.

For hotels, this means planning for long-term changes to address this shift in guest requirements and behavior. Hotels will need to accommodate for social distancing within their premises, enforce the highest standards of hygiene and sanitary control practices, creating a truly touchless experience whenever practical.

Hotels will need to consider most how to deliver the best possible service while minimizing contact and interaction with guests. They may need to get out of their comfort zone to learn new skills and leverage some advanced hotel technology and tools.

Re-evaluate your hotel’s tech stack

For most hoteliers, investigating new technology probably isn’t top of mind right now. But it should be. We know well that without good software in place, you can’t operate an efficient hotel business in any economic climate. And in times of recovery from a crisis, technology will play an even bigger role, helping hotels anticipate and react to everything that comes with the new normal.

So, what will guests most likely look for in a hotel that you can enable through technology? It’s things like self-services, room control via digital assistants, contactless ordering and payments, automated support, and more.

Does your current tech stack support any of these? If not, now is the time to think about technology investments that will support your business during the recovery and provide you with a competitive advantage over the long run. Now, let’s look at some of the hotel technologies you should consider.

Streamlined Check-in with Mobile Apps, Kiosks & FaceID

In the new normal, we expect guests to be more cautious and try to minimize all unnecessary contact with hotel staff. This means that they’ll look for hotels that can enable them to check in without interacting physically with the front desk staff.

Solutions like Identity Kiosks are already used in some hotel chains and have proven to be effective in reducing check-in times and increasing guest satisfaction with the check in/check out process.

Self service kiosks with faceID technology can quickly verify guest’s identity, pull up their reservations, check them in, authorize payment, and issue a room key without any contact with the front desk staff. In the post-covid world, enabling seamless check in won’t be a ‘nice-to-have’ but a need to have and a real differentiator for hotels.

Likewise, your guests will appreciate the option to check in via their smartphone using your hotel app and they’ll expect the same convenience when checking out and cancelling their room key.

Keyless Room Entry

When you have the mobile app or the faceID check-in enabled, the next thing a guest would expect is to receive a digital room key. Turning your guests’ smartphones into room keys is not only a time saver but also eliminates unnecessary contact with hotel staff. Keyless entry is extremely convenient as all your guests will have to do is open the app and press unlock.

Contextual and Automated Support

During their stay in your hotel, guests will most likely use less of your amenities (e.g. gym, spa, restaurants) but they’ll rely on other services to make their stay more enjoyable. For example, they may use room service more and increase their spend on F&B ordering.

To make this as easy for guests as possible, you can enable ordering and other service and support functions via automated guest messaging. By allowing them to make an order via simple text message, you’ll be putting control over meal selections and delivery times squarely in your guests’ hands. Another huge advantage of this technology is cashless payments processing that is typically enabled in advanced automated guest messaging platforms.

Automated guest messaging will also provide a 24/7 support channel to handle FAQs, but also to be proactive with guest service and send timely information and offers based on their context, behavior and preferences. For example, you could provide meal recommendations via messaging based on a guest’s previous bookings/orders or send an offer for a transfer service prior to check out.

Takeaways

During these times when everyone is focused on staying afloat, preparing for the new normal demands from hotels to rethink their strategies, reallocate budgets, and develop new skills. But it is also just as important to think about technology investments that will help you emerge from this crisis even stronger, ready to accommodate changing guest requirements, and build a competitive advantage as the market recovers.


How Can Automated Guest Communication Work for Your Hotel

How Can Automated Guest Communication Work for Your Hotel

Using automated messaging or conversational AI as a guest communication and support channel is still a novelty for a large majority of hotels. Although this technology has a widespread use in many consumer-oriented industries, hospitality is yet to take full advantage of its powerful automation capabilities.

In our previous post, we wrote an introduction to conversational AI and covered some of the key use cases for hotels. Here, we’re going to get into details of how your hotel can use messaging to power the entire guest life cycle, from pre-arrival to post-departure, and look at all the different activities that you can automate to bring a positive impact to revenue.

Using Conversational AI to Power the Pre-Arrival Stage

Guests now expect a different kind of interaction with your hotel - they’re looking for personalized, one-to-one communication from the moment they decide to book with you.

The pre-arrival stage is the perfect time for you to make them feel like they’ve made the best possible decision by choosing to stay with you. You should provide them with valuable, personalized information and have staff available 24/7 to answer any questions they may have.

Now, this level of service is time and resource-intensive and quite difficult to achieve without some level of automation. This is where a hotel messaging platform comes in.

Guest welcome flow

Introduce automated messaging to guests

A question that hoteliers often ask is ‘how do guests discover that the hotel has a messaging channel available?’ so let’s answer this one first.

When a guest makes a reservation, you’ll typically send them a ‘reservation confirmation’ email. This is the perfect opportunity to introduce your messaging tool and let guests know on which platform they can find it e.g. Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, or within a hotel app.

You can also provide a short description of the possibilities and services available, so the guests have a clear picture of what they can expect.

Handle Early Guest Requests & Share Relevant Information

In the pre-arrival stage, you can leverage automated messaging to be proactive with your guest request, meaning you can send them messages to inquire if they have any particular needs or wants during their stay.

Your guests will feel good about your customer service and your staff won’t be overloaded with last minute requests once the guests arrive.

Another key capability of this solution is that it allows you to get your guest excited about the things they can enjoy during their stay, like your top amenities, activities, local attractions, etc., and help them plan their visit.

For most guests, it will also be important to know that, although fully automated, your messaging tool can connect them to one of your staff for live support, should they need something beyond what it can do for them.

Provide Instant Answers to Guest FAQs

Before they arrive at your hotel, guests will surely have some questions about check in, parking options, transportation, and more. To get answers, they’ll need to go to your website and sift through pages of content, call your frontdesk, or double check all email communications with your hotel to look for the info they need.

None of the above options is easy or convenient. Automated messaging, on the other hand, is a perfect channel for handling FAQs instantaneously. It’s available 24/7 to answer questions like:

  • Is there a mobile check in available?
  • Can I check in early?
  • Do you provide a mobile key?
  • Can you provide a crib for our room? How much do you charge for it?
  • Is parking available on premises?
  • Do you have bell service?
  • I’m going to arrive after the restaurant closes. Can I order a sandwich now and have it delivered to my room? Etc.

A well-trained automated messaging platform can handle questions like this for hundreds of guests simultaneously - no capacity constraints and no overhead.

Additionally, you can send notifications to guests to inform them that their room is ready or to make their wait more pleasant by suggesting a snack at a bar or a cup of coffee. As you can see, there are numerous opportunities to engage and better service your guests in the pre-arrival stage by leveraging conversational AI.

Impress Your Guests During their Stay

During their stay at your hotel, all your efforts should be focused on one thing - guest experience. An exceptional experience is the one thing that can impress your guests and make them want to come back.

Your work in this area starts with your guests’ arrival and check in which should be as painless as possible. With automated messaging, you can notify guests about mobile check-in and mobile key options (if available) so they can escape any wait time at the front desk.

Leverage Automated Messaging for Upselling and Cross-selling

When they’re all settled in, your guests will be more receptive to any offers, especially if they are personalized for them based on the data on their recent activities and requests. Sending timely offers that can enhance your guests’ stay is essential for positively impacting revenue.

There are numerous examples of upselling (e.g. upgrading their choice of room) and cross-selling (selling ancillary products or services) and an automated messaging platform enables you to send these offers directly to your guests’ phones. For example, you can:

  • Send an offer to guests for a room upgrade with photos that show off the room’s best features.
  • Send tailored offers based on guest preferences. For example, offering a couples massage in your spa for honeymooners.
  • Excite guests about activities available in and outside of your hotel (e.g. sauna, tennis, city tours, etc.) with well-timed offers.

Enable Food & Beverage Ordering via Chat

Everyone in the hotel business knows that food and beverage operations can really drive profits. That’s why it’s important to encourage guests to spend on F&B. You need to ensure that you are presenting them with as many options as possible and then make it easy for them to order, wherever they are on the property.

So, how exactly do you bring in more hotel food and beverage sales?

With hotel messaging, your guests can conveniently order via text and pay instantly with enabled cashless payments processing.

Drinks by the pool or snack at the bar, happy hour specials, special occasion menus, meal of the day offers, or meals that cater to dietary restrictions (e.g. gluten-free options), all of this can be available to your guests through a familiar chat interface or sent at the right time as a special offer. Easier discoverability of relevant F&B offers, convenience of text ordering and cashless payments, these are all drivers for increased customer spend on food and beverage.

Improve Housekeeping & Other Service Requests

An automated messaging platform cannot exist as a disconnected piece of technology - it is deeply integrated into hotel’s PMS and other systems. This way, service requests automatically go to the relevant departments and staff that deliver those services. With proper integrations in place, messaging eliminates several steps in the guest service process and makes hotels more responsive to guest requests.

So, for example, a guest can make a housekeeping request by sending a quick message and the appropriate team will be immediately notified and ready to respond. Or they can ask for fresh towels or linens, bottled water, flowers for their room, or anything else that your hotel can provide.

Handling guest requesting

Stay in Touch with Your Guests Post-departure

Do you have efficient communication with your guests after they´ve left? Even if you enable smooth check out experience, do you have the time and resources to collect precious guest feedback? This is key to helping you improve your operations and the overall guest experience.

With a hotel messaging platform, you can automate the process of gathering guest feedback; you can also send a link to Tripadvisor giving them an option to leave their review. By adding a touch of personalization to these messages, you’ll demonstrate that your hotel genuinely cares about their experience.

It’s nice that your guests know that they can get quick answers from your hotel after their stay. Maybe they forgot something in their room and want to ask you to check. Compared to static emails or calls to the front desk, a messaging platform truly helps you close the communication gap that often exists between hotels and guests after their stay is over.

Takeaways

A hotel messaging platform can help you enhance all aspects of your guests’ stay, from post-reservation communication to the final check out. It is a useful, easy-to-use tool for guests and another channel for your hotel to add value and better communicate, understand, and sell to your guests. The positive impact this technology has on guest experience directly translates into a positive impact on hotel revenue.


Hospitality and Conversational AI

Hospitality and Conversational AI

This may not yet be obvious, but AI technology is increasingly shaping the way hotels service their guests. This has everything to do with the generations of digital native travelers at the peak of their purchasing power who are traveling more but are not willing to compromise on one thing – experience.

New demands from guests are pushing hotels to adopt new technologies that help them deliver enhanced guest experiences and meet their expectations for seamless, personalized and on-demand services. And they’re increasingly leveraging conversational AI interfaces to deliver what their guests are looking for.

So what, exactly, is conversational AI?

In simplest terms, conversational AI is a computer program that can be trained to have conversations with users through a chat interface. It’s a form of automated communication with users that can be exposed on hotel websites, applications, or messaging apps.

Powered by AI technologies, such as machine learning and natural language processing (NLP), a chatbot can play the role of a digital concierge, providing this premium service free for hotel guests. But this is not all they can do! Let’s have a look at how hotels can use chatbots to wow their guests and tap into new revenue streams.

Common Use Cases for Hotel AI Chatbots

From booking to post-stay, guests expect most of their hotel interactions to be automated and services accessible on-demand from their smartphones. Whether it’s asking questions about their stay, making requests, or booking a meal, they want instantaneous responses. This is where conversational AI makes all the difference in response time, while at the same taking the load of hotel staff.

Automated Guest Service Requests

There’s nothing that can hurt a hotel’s reputation more than poorly managed guest requests. We all know how vocal guests can be about their disappointments and they won’t be shy to share them with the world on sites like TripAdvisor.

AI chatbots are the simplest way for guests to request any service from a hotel - if they need fresh towels, wake-up call, dry cleaning, room service, poolside drinks, etc. - all they need to do is tap a few buttons. It’s so much more convenient than having to call the front desk.

Guest requests

Having a 24/7 direct communication channel with the hotel during their stay gives guests a feeling of control over their experience.

But, what happens ‘behind the curtains’? How does this simplify things for the hotel?

Conversational interfaces don’t exist in isolation, they communicate with other hotel systems. They typically come with their own CMS and analytics but their true power is in ability to integrate with the hotel’s property management system (PMS). Advanced solutions like this notify hotel staff immediately as a guest makes a request. Due to PMS integration, the front desk can easily authenticate the guest name and room number, dispatch requests to appropriate staff, and then track the progress as the staff fulfills requests.

So, with AI chatbots, hotels can respond to requests much faster with almost no capacity limitations while giving instant access to information and services to their guests.

According to an Oracle study, “an average of 70% of guest requests are now handled automatically by AI-enabled response technology in hotels where the systems have been implemented. The results in terms of time savings, cost savings and guest relationship enhancement make for a strong business case for investing in hotel technologies that harness the power of artificial intelligence.”

Personalized Notifications and Recommendations

Personalized recommendations have become a norm for today’s consumers. Just think how Amazon, Netflix, and other digital giants have spoiled users with their high-quality recommendations based on both historic data and real-time activity. Imagine how powerful this level of personalization could be if used in hotels!

For example, a hotel could provide restaurant or meal recommendations via a digital concierge based on a guest’s preferences and previous bookings/orders.

Automated food ordering

They could send them timely notifications on special deals tailored for them either based on historical data (e.g. send spa treatment deals to guests who visited hotel spa during previous stays) or predefined triggers (e.g. prior to checking out, send guests an offer for transfer service).

Smart technology used in chatbots will continue to make it possible for hotels to enable this level of personalization to create memorable experiences and foster greater guest loyalty.

“89% of hoteliers agree that targeted personalization is one of the most effective ways to improve the guest experience.” – Source

Personal Travel Assistant

To provide a well-rounded experience to their guests, hotels need to be helpful and available to provide information about everything from check in time, hotel amenities, best dining options in the area, top attractions to visit, best sightseeing tours, and more.

Instead of turning to Google for information or calling the reception, guests can ask the hotel chatbot for tips on how to make the most of their time for the duration of their trip. It’s like having an experienced local guide on their phone!

The hotel chatbot can be ‘trained’ to answer simple questions like hours of operation to more sophisticated requests suggesting the best transportation options from the hotel to downtown, major tourist spots, airport, etc. It can keep the guests updated on local events and send notifications on happy hours in local bars and restaurants. Opportunities for hotels to be helpful and provide added value to guests are endless!

Conversational AI could also provide integration with 3rd party services to take things further and enable, for example, restaurant reservations or booking of top attractions in just a few taps.

Automated activity recommendations

Reporting and Analytics

All requests can be tracked according to many different categories including the nature of the request, number of requests, average response times, labor hours saved, escalated requests and results. This reports and analysis can help to determine strong and weak spots in the delivery team as well as highlight similar redundant requests such as heat, A/C and case goods. The team can be incentivized to improve or build upon these analytics. Today in hotels much of this guest feedback is not recorded or analyzed.

Avery task management

Takeaways

In 2020 and beyond (after corona situations settles down), what guests consider a premium service is going to be closely related to convenience and personalization. Hotels simply won’t be able to deliver this level of service to their guests without AI-related technologies that will power great guest experiences.

We expect these technologies to impact hotel operations even more in the future, touching everything from front desk to customer service and support. Even though implementing tools like conversational AI may cause some level of disruption, it will also open up a wide array of opportunities for hotels to increase brand recognition, boost customer loyalty, and drive more revenue in the long run.