Automation has permeated every aspect of human activity, encompassing both personal and business realms, and the hotel industry is no exception.
But, what does automation in hospitality actually entail? What purpose does it serve? Is it really necessary?
What better way to answer these questions than to delve into specific, real-world examples?
That’s precisely what we’ll be doing in this article.
We’ll examine six distinct technologies employed by hotels around the world, shedding light on how automation can be advantageous for hospitality professionals.
Smart Room Controls: Hotel Mousai, Puerto Vallarta
Smart rooms enable guests to effortlessly manage various aspects of their room environment through a centralized system, using an array of sensors, devices, and software.
As such, this technology can be a real game-changer for customer experience in hospitality.
At Hotel Mousai, a luxurious adults-only property located in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, they understand this very well.
Their suites go way beyond the ordinary and, as per the hotel’s own website, are “designed to minimize hassle and maximize pleasure.”
How exactly do they achieve this, you may wonder?
By outfitting their rooms with cutting-edge smart technology, including:
- An iPad-operated ambiance system, providing customers with control over the TV, lights, and room service orders
- Smart control panels on each wall, which allow for regulation of room ambiance, music volume, television, temperature, and curtains (essentially, they serve as an alternative to the iPad)
- The high-tech restroom that features vanity mirrors with touch lighting and a Smart Toto Bidet Toilet, described as the "top-of-the-line in bidet and toilet technology."
- The Jacuzzi equipped with smart temperature settings and hydromassage jets adjustable to guests' preferences.
Judging from the overwhelmingly positive online reviews, Hotel Mousai's commitment to an unparalleled guest experience is greatly appreciated.
As you can see below, guests praise the establishment for offering an exceptionally luxurious stay, where they feel pampered, catered to, and uniquely special.
Despite being positioned at the higher end of the pricing spectrum, the hotel's recurrent visitors attest to the allure of these technological amenities.
The undeniable truth is this: technology matters to modern travelers and they are even willing to pay extra for hotels that have the features they want.
While free Wi-Fi remains number one in this category, the trend toward automated solutions like smart TVs, voice-controlled devices, and robotic services is unmistakable, studies show.
In other words, smart tech is no longer a mere luxury, but an essential element in contemporary hotel rooms.
Ultimately, hospitality is an industry where competition intensifies and guest expectations rise by the moment.
Taking a page from Hotel Mousai's playbook and enabling guests to have complete control over their room environment is a great way to stand out and meet the evolving demands of modern travelers.
Keyless Entry Systems: Mint House, NYC
Keyless entry systems have quickly evolved from nice-to-have to must-have in the hotel industry, mostly propelled by the widespread adoption of smartphones.
These systems link smart hotel locks to a mobile app, activating guests' credentials for room access.
Guests download the property's app, create an account, and upon reservation, the app generates a digital key sent to their smartphone.
No physical keys, no cumbersome check-in/check-out process.
Mint House, an Airbnb-like startup with about 20 properties in 16 different cities, serves as a testament that going keyless is the way to go forward.
On their website, it states that they “ditched losable key cards, long lines, room service, and other relics” for a more seamless experience.
Mint House founder and chairman of the board, Will Lucas, says creating something special was their intention from the beginning:
“From the onset, we sought to create an entirely new category of accommodations that was purpose-built for the business traveler – a unique experience that offers the feel of a high-end hotel with the comforts and conveniences of your own home – all packaged and delivered via technology.”
Leveraging technology, they were indeed able to achieve just that.
Mint House successfully marries the tech-savviness of high-end hotels with the warmth of a home environment.
And obviously, they’re doing something right.
This innovative strategy has earned them consistently high 5-star ratings on platforms like TripAdvisor, particularly for their New York property.
Unsurprisingly, guests appreciate the reduced wait times at the front desk and not having to deal with pesky room keycards all the time.
But, going beyond just enhancing customer satisfaction, keyless systems also increase operational efficiency by relieving the front desk personnel of certain tasks.
They eliminate the need to issue and collect physical keys, save time by avoiding issues with lost keys and accompanying guest complaints, and generally expedite the check-in process.
At the end of the day, what travelers want the most is a hassle-free experience, and removing physical keys from the equation proves to be a simple yet elegant solution in this context.
It streamlines the check-in process, eliminates unnecessary steps, and contributes to a more enjoyable hotel stay.
Automated Check-In/Check-Out: Yotel, Singapore
Another hotel that recognizes the importance of convenience for modern travelers is Yotel in Singapore.
As a matter of fact, they might be even taking it a step further with their automated check-in/check-out process.
Guests at this property can use a sci-fi-looking check-in kiosk to register, collect, and return their keys, as well as request services such as late check-out or breakfast delivery—all in their aptly named Mission Control.
This significantly reduces the check-in process time and eliminates queueing, creating a more seamless experience for the visitors.
If you ask them, the sooner they can get to their rooms, the better. And Yotel obliges.
Self-service check-in technology gained prominence during the pandemic when contactless options were the only option.
Today, it appears that the tech is here to stay.
An Oracle survey, predicting hospitality trends for 2025, reveals that contactless check-in/check-out is the number one hotel technology popularized during the pandemic that people would like to see permanently adopted.
What is more, even the surveyed hotel executives agree that contactless technology should be prioritized in the upcoming years.
It shows that a majority of travelers prefer to stay at properties offering self-service technology, including automated check-in and check-out.
When you think about it, checking in is the first time guests get to experience your property in person, making it the perfect opportunity to leave that positive first impression.
Recognizing this, Yotel has made the process brief yet special, creating a memorable and welcoming atmosphere from the very start.
Auto-Updated Pricing: Hotel Marinus, Croatia
Hospitality professionals at Hotel Marinus in Croatia know that hotel pricing plays a crucial role in guests' decision-making process.
They also know that, by maintaining optimal rates throughout the year, the low seasons don’t necessarily have to translate to empty rooms.
That’s why they use automated pricing technology.
Automated pricing, or dynamic pricing, uses dedicated software solutions to automatically adjust room prices based on factors such as availability, customer length of stay, and other relevant parameters.
For instance, during slow periods, the system can lower rates to attract more visitors.
Conversely, during peak seasons, it adjusts prices to match the demand in order to maximize profitability.
This flexibility empowers hoteliers to adapt quickly to changes in market conditions, optimizing both their revenue and occupancy rates.
But why opt for automation? Couldn't price correction be done manually?
It’s not impossible, but it sure is challenging.
Continuously monitoring demand and manually updating prices for various room categories across various distribution channels is not only labor-intensive but also prone to human error, often resulting in incorrect rates.
The example below testifies to that:
Such mistakes can easily turn a $100 room into a $10 one, presenting a dilemma for hoteliers—either cancel the reservation with the mistake rate and risk reputational damage or absorb the financial loss.
To bypass such problems, Hotel Marinus relies on WebBookingPro's automated Revenue Manager.
This software allows them to define if-then scenarios for price corrections and then automates the entire process.
Prices are updated daily or even more frequently in response to specified triggers, such as room cancellations.
By delegating this low-value yet time-consuming task to technology, professionals at Hotel Marinus can concentrate on more important matters.
At the end of the day, the hospitality industry was never about math, but about providing guests with memorable and pleasant experiences.
Robotic Concierge Services: Aloft Hotel, Cupertino
Robot helpers aren’t a thing of sci-fi movies and the distant future anymore; they are now actively employed in various hotels, undertaking different tasks, and assisting humans in automating their day-to-day activities.
The genesis of robotic concierge services can be traced, unsurprisingly, to Silicon Valley, specifically to the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino.
In 2014, they introduced a new addition to their staff—two robots called Botlrs.
The robots were able to seamlessly maneuver around people and use elevators, contributing to both the front and back-of-house operations.
Most of the time, the Botlrs were tasked with delivering amenities to guests' rooms.
For instance, if a customer requested an additional towel, the employees would load up the robot, input the room number, and let the Botlr complete the delivery.
For hotel guests, witnessing these robots in action was a novel and enjoyable experience.
After all, not many people have ever seen anything like that at this point.
Fast forward to today, and we now have velociraptor robots handling guest check-ins all on their own.
Still, these robots aren’t just fun to look at and interact with; they provide tangible benefits for the hotel industry.
They significantly enhance operational efficiency by managing multiple check-ins simultaneously, offering round-the-clock availability, and boasting multilingual capabilities.
Gavin Donley, head of marketing at Brain Corp, says this can be particularly beneficial for hotels facing staffing challenges:
“By automating certain tasks, hotels can make up for any lack of availability when it comes to human workers. Robots can also perform tasks with a high level of consistency, reducing the risk of human error. This can be especially important in areas such as cleaning and maintenance, where consistency is crucial to maintaining a high standard of hygiene and safety for guests.”
Therefore, although the technology is still in its early stages, practical applications for robots in automating hospitality processes already exist.
Overall, while we were unable to confirm whether or not Botlrs still work at Aloft, we deemed it necessary to include the hotel in this list.
They were pioneers, the first to recognize the potential of a technology undoubtedly poised to redefine the landscape of hospitality in the future.
Virtual Assistants: Hotel Wynn, Las Vegas
Virtual assistants are yet another game-changer in the hospitality industry, revolutionizing customer service and enhancing overall guest experience.
These AI-powered tools offer instant support to guests by answering their questions, giving information about reservations, offering recommendations for local attractions, as well as facilitating control over specific aspects of the room environment.
In short, these VAs do it all.
This allowed guests to use voice commands to, for example, close curtains, turn on lights, or access information like news and weather during their stay.
Founder Steve Wynn has nothing but praise for the technology.
According to him, it’s a perfect fit for the hospitality industry:
“I have never, ever seen anything that was more intuitively dead-on to making the guest experience seamlessly delicious, effortlessly convenient, with the ability to talk to your room and say: ‘Alexa, I am here, open the curtains, lower the temperature, turn on the news. She becomes our butler at the service of each of our guests.”
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that these quick, efficient, and always-available devices have established themselves as an integral component of the Hotel Wynn experience.
In fact, online reviews frequently highlight Alexa as the standout feature of the property.
However, the impact of virtual assistants extends beyond the confines of the hotel stay.
AI-powered chatbots, for instance, prove invaluable in addressing inquiries from potential guests during the booking process.
Deployed on social media platforms or hotel websites, these chatbots enable hotels to efficiently manage multiple inquiries simultaneously and in real-time, thereby substantially improving customer support and ultimately increasing room reservations.
Quick responses really do matter, says David Bailey-Lauring, CEO at Blu Mint Digital:
“Personally, I prefer a response within 15 minutes - no more than an hour maximum.
If they don’t respond, I’ll find a new company to do business with (if possible). Slow response times definitely leave a bad impression for any future business.”
And this is no one man’s opinion by any means.
A survey by Sprout Social reveals that the majority of customers indeed notice and appreciate when businesses put effort into their customer service.
What better way to demonstrate that you care about your customers than to be there for them when they need assistance?
While human staff may grapple with limitations in delivering rapid responses to a multitude of leads at once, virtual assistants excel in providing timely and personalized support.
This capability not only improves a property's image and helps build trust but also translates into a tangible increase in bookings.
All in all, virtual assistants’ biggest strength lies in their versatility.
They are flexible, fast, and always available to guests, providing them with personalized experience and communication.
Wynn Hotel is a great example of how these strengths can be leveraged to provide amazing service to your guests and make their stay memorable.
Efficiency, personalization, and an enhanced guest experience—these are common threads among all the examples we’ve covered today.
By investing in different technological solutions, these establishments have successfully eliminated unnecessary and time-consuming tasks, which not only allows them to provide superior service to their guests but also enables them to stand out in this highly competitive industry.
Hopefully, this article showed you that technology is to be embraced, and not feared because, ultimately, automation is the future.
So, if you find some of these innovations intriguing, give them a thought or two.
Carefully assess their pros and cons, and evaluate how they align with your business plan.
They could very well be the key to unlocking unprecedented success for your property.