The future is here. While robots and artificial intelligence were “cool concepts” for the future, COVID-19 flipped the industry upside down and has forced a new conversation about hotel staff and guest safety. The hotel experience with personalized, human connection will never become obsolete, but robotic tech can change the game for the better.
Research by Gartner shows that customer experience drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty. Investing in the right technologies now can ensure guests feel safe and comfortable while staying at a hotel this year. This increases overall satisfaction, which then leads to improved loyalty and return visits. Let’s cover three areas where the latest technology will make the biggest impact on the hotel experience and offer a tailor-made stay for guests.
In the Lobby
Instead of greeting guests with a smiling front desk agent as they arrive, face masks, physical barriers and distancing is the norm. Hotels, such as Hotel Sky in Johannesburg, are using automated attendants to serve guests, from checking in to porting luggage to their rooms. Aside from assisting guests with tasks, these robots can also scan facial expressions to measure the sentiment of guests’ experiences.
Self-service kiosks, similar to those available in airports, can also give guests control over their interactions, recognize their loyalty preferences and offer them an efficient and easy way to check-in. This shortens wait times and eliminates the need for contact with staff and other guests.
Hotels are looking for ways to substitute traditional concierge services to avoid having guests linger in the lobby, speed up wait times and limit exposure to other guests and staff. Hotels like Hilton use a robot concierge service to offer recommendations, directions and hotel information. Mobile apps can also allow guests to skip the lines, offering an efficient but still personalized experience.
In the Room
Leveraging loyalty profiles, data and the latest tech allows for an ultra-personalized, in-room approach. When a returning loyalty member checks in, the room can automatically be set to their preferred temperature, play their favorite music and have the curtains wide open to enjoy the top-floor view, just as they like. Using AI and voice technology via in-room assistants further enhances the experience, enabling guests to manage their environments completely hands-free and avoid various touchpoints like the thermostat, light switches and the remote.
AI can also provide guests with the option to make requests for towels, pillows or food to be delivered to their rooms, outside the door without human contact. The Mercantile New Orleans uses a robot butler to deliver snacks, coffee or the morning newspaper to guests.
Much like your Netflix account, robotic services will learn from your choices and preferences to build a profile and provide customized suggestions. Whether it’s booking amenities through an app, ordering room service through an in-room voice assistant or requesting two additional towels during every trip, this data can be leveraged for upselling or boosting loyalty during a future stay.
Around the Hotel – Shared Spaces and Amenities
A recent AHLA survey found that 62 percent of guests consider cleanliness and safety protocols as their number two priority when choosing a hotel, compared to 38 percent of guests pre-COVID. Because of this, it is inherent upon hotels to implement new health and safety measures.
According to Verified Market Research, the market for UV disinfecting bots will grow to more than $5.5 billion by 2027. From automated vacuum cleaners to robots that can kill viruses with pulses of UV light, the latest technology can save staff from handling mundane, potentially unsafe tasks and allow them to focus on delivering exceptional guest services.
Though times have changed, many guests still expect to have access to amenities including dining services, the onsite gym and pool use. Allowing guests to access menus, order and pay for food on their own devices and giving them the option to book reserved times to use other facilities via the hotel website or app open up many more options to them.
As guests interact with integrated technology, their actions, requests and preferences will be stored in their profiles. The more hotel stays and data collected gives hotels the opportunity to build future visits specifically tailored to their wants and needs. Whether using a robot concierge that greets guests at the door, automatic vacuums to give guests peace of mind or mobile app and voice technology to let guests be in charge, robotic and AI-driven tech will have a positive impact and keep guests coming back.
This content originally appeared on Travel Pulse.