Striking a balance: self-service vs the human touch
In an age dominated by technology, the hospitality industry is experiencing a profound digital transformation that promises to redefine the guest experience. Consumers have spoken; they prefer self-service over traditional face-to-face interactions.
Yet, there exists a compelling paradox with a growing hunger for personalisation and meaningful connections in an increasingly digitised world. How can the hospitality sector balance these seemingly opposing desires to cater to the ever-evolving expectations of its guests?
Recent survey about self-service and personalisation
A recent survey conducted by PlayUSA unveiled captivating insights into the changing landscape of consumer preferences. The survey delved into various sides of self-service and its impact on the personal touch.
Illustration: Arribatec Hospitality
It’s no surprise that the results showed a rising tide of preference for self-service across different age groups, with Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X leading the charge and even Baby Boomers not far behind.
Remarkably, 84% said they like self-service kiosks, citing factors such as convenience and efficiency.
While 71% acknowledged the time-saving benefits of self-service, a significant 60% revealed that they opted for this approach to avoid social interaction. 14% would even queue for a self-service kiosk even when a manned checkout was available!
The downside of technology: lack of genuine human connections
However, these preferences run deeper than mere practicality. The survey also unearthed apprehensions about the diminishing personalisation factor;
While 62% of respondents appreciated technology replacing in-person interactions, a significant 67% felt that technology has made it more challenging to make meaningful connections. They believed that technology-led interactions further decrease empathy and social skills.
Another report by Oracle Hospitality and Skift revealed that 72,9% of travellers are more likely to stay at a hotel offering self-service tech that minimises interactions. In comparison, 23% say they are not interested in hotels using automated messages or chatbots. The yearning for genuine human connections remains evident.
In addition, as we discovered in this previous article, travellers are optimistic about mobile check-ins but do not want to download apps. These findings reiterate the crucial role that technology plays in enhancing the overall guest experience. It’s all about striking a balance and creating a solution that is just right.
From anonymous numbers to hospitality insights and actions
So, how does this survey translate into the hospitality industry? As technology assumes a significant role, guests are becoming increasingly comfortable with self-service options such as mobile check-ins and automated messaging for service requests.
“The essence here lies in providing guests the flexibility to choose rather than replacing the human touch. It’s about freeing time for staff to make more genuine connections that align with personal preferences. That’s how self-service kiosks effectively balance technology and personalisation.”
– Alexander W. Richter, EVP in Arribatec Hospitality
Illustrations: Self-service kiosks from Arribatec Hospitality
Consider the success stories of Anker Hotel, Thon Hotels and Sundvolden Hotel, who have embraced this delicate balance between technology and personalisation. They’ve harnessed the power of digital innovation to enhance guest experiences, offering seamless check-ins and efficient service requests while ensuring that the human touch remains at the heart of their operations.
Digital or personal? Yes, please
At Arribatec Hospitality, we are strong believers in the transformative potential of technology to streamline operations and liberate time for front desk staff to engage in more personalised, profound conversations with guests.
– For hoteliers, the goal is never to replace staff with technology but to empower them with tools that amplify the guest experience and cater to personal preferences, says Alexander W. Richter, EVP of Arribatec Hospitality
Our self-service kiosks are specifically developed to ensure the best possible guest experience based on individual preferences while giving the staff more time to host and serve. Because ultimately, it’s the connections forged with our guests that hold the utmost significance.
The valid proof of balance
Smarthotel Oslo choosing a new Mews integration meant temporarily shelving their kiosks for three months. Initially met with scepticism of self-service kiosks, one of the hotel’s receptionists came to an unexpected realisation. In the absence of the kiosks, he found himself missing their efficiency and convenience, acknowledging the vital role they played in streamlining the guest check-in process and reducing stress.
The kiosks were indeed not a replacement for human interaction but rather a valuable tool that lightened the load, allowing staff to focus on more complex cases and personal interactions.
This experience underscored the importance of striking the right balance between technology and the human touch, as well as getting feedback from staff during the process. Ultimately, people are our business.
It’s a subtle dance, one that Arribatec Hospitality is committed to perfecting. We aspire to provide guests with the liberty to choose how they wish to interact with technology while basking in the heartfelt embrace of genuine human hospitality.