Self-service kiosks are a particularly divisive piece of equipment within the hotel industry. Some paint them as useless—lobby dust collectors that take away from that all-important one-on-one interaction obtained at the front desk. Others laud them as high-tech time savers that match the self-service lifestyles of the travelling public.
I tried to offer some light on the subject in an article I wrote back in February.
“As self-service technology becomes more popular in everyday life, hotel check-in kiosks increasingly are being seen as viable alternatives—but not replacements—to traditional front-desk interaction,” I began.
The rest of the article expounded on that idea, arguing that when self-service kiosks are implemented in a thoughtful, accessible manner, one that’s complemented and supported by the front-desk associates, guests are more likely to have a favorable experience with them, and thus are more likely to use them in the future.
But what do I know? I’m just a journalist.
The folks over at Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research carry considerably more clout when they release findings on various subjects. And as it just so happens, they recently released a report called “Integrating self-service kiosks in a customer-service system.”
Conducted by Tsz-Wai Lui and Gabriele Piccoli, the study examined the financial and guest satisfaction results of integrating a self-service kiosk in two brands operated by an international hotel company. Their findings?
“Based on data from the company, this study indicates that when certain routine tasks (e.g., checking in and issuing room keys) were handled in kiosks, hotels did see increases in average daily rate. However, when something went wrong with the self-service check-in, the hotels in question saw a reduction in guests’ willingness to return. Oddly, the addition of the check-in kiosks did not increase guests’ perceptions of service speed at check-in. One possible explanation is that guests used the check-in time to consult with services representatives regarding the destination or other topics, and front-desk associates took the opportunity to make upselling and cross-selling offers.”
It’s important to note benefits were not immediately realized. Hotels require some time to install and promote awareness of the new technology, and guests need time to investigate and adopt it for repeated use.
In sum, the report offered managers four suggestions:
- Allow enough time for the benefit of the technological investment realized.
- Provide learning opportunities and encouragement for customers to use the self-service channel.
- Generate awareness of the self-service channel so customers can select the channel they prefer.
- Allocate resources depending on strategic goals to increase customers’ willingness to pay a premium for services or their willingness to return to the property.