Are you finding yourself caught up in the time-consuming maze of manual tasks at your hotel, but somewhere back in your mind, you know you would be better off automating them?
Perhaps you're still manually handling reservations or juggling different channels, constantly adjusting room availability and prices.
If so, you're in the right place, because these hotel operations are prime candidates for automation.
We're here to guide you through everything you need to know about hotel automation—why it's a trend, the benefits it brings, the operations you can automate, and how to get started.
By the end of this article, any reservations you might have about automating your hotel operations will disappear.
Let's get started.
How Does Automation Impact the Hotel Industry?
Automation is becoming a defining feature of many industries, including hospitality and, consequently, the hotel industry.
Statista reports that the global hospitality market reached nearly 4.7 trillion U.S. dollars in 2023 and is projected to grow to 5.8 trillion U.S. dollars in 2027.
A factor behind this growth is and will stay digitization, or in other words, a blend of technology and automation.
At its core, automation brings more efficiency and saves time, and it's no different in the hotel industry, either.
That's why it's not surprising that most hotels are on board with it, explains David Woolenberg, CEO of Duetto, a company that delivers software for hospitality businesses.
In fact, research from 2022 conducted by Duetto showed that, in the next three years, 77.6% of hoteliers expect to increase their hotel tech investment.
As we are now two years into this period, it's evident that more hotels have already invested in technology and will continue to do so.
What does this mean for you?
Well, if you wish to remain competitive—especially considering that a hotel is on every corner in big cities—it's time to adopt tech and automate your operations.
But automation goes beyond your efficiency. It's also about guest satisfaction.
Automation is a trend in the hospitality industry largely because of guests and their expectations and demands.
For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we all had to stay home, the food industry had to adapt first.
By automating orders and digitizing deliveries, they adjusted to what customers wanted.
Now, the onus shifts to the hotel industry as customers increasingly seek more technology and automation in this area, too.
Senior VP and general manager of Oracle Hospitality, Alex Alt, explains this trend:
"Whether a hotel organization has two properties or 2,000, guests are looking for the highly digital, self-service experience they have come to expect in other parts of their lives, from banking to ordering food. For hoteliers to meet these demands, especially with constrained property staffing, they need systems that will enable them to quickly adapt, 'plug in' new services, and better and more efficiently serve a diverse group of travelers."
Oracle’s statistics confirm this, showing that as much as 73% of hotel guests will base their choice of hotel on the self-service technology they offer.
Or—if you automate your check-in and check-out and make it possible through phone, 42% of guests will revisit your hotel.
With these numbers in mind, it's becoming evident that hotels will have to embrace automation for three main reasons: to become more efficient, stay competitive, and cater to guests' preferences.
Which Benefits Does Automation Bring to Hoteliers?
Automation brings a myriad of benefits to hoteliers.
They span from better operational efficiency and increased revenue to improved guest experience.
Let’s see how each affects your hotel and how to realize it.
Better Operational Efficiency
When Hotel Operations and Benchmark Research Partners asked more than 100 hoteliers how technology helps them reach their professional goals, most said it was by increasing their efficiency.
And it makes sense.
Automation replaces manual and repetitive tasks, freeing hoteliers and their employees to focus on other crucial aspects of their business.
Let’s see how.
For starters, implementing tools like a property management system (PMS) in your hotel will automate many operations, from managing reservations and check-ins and processing payments to scheduling housekeeping.
For example, just automating reservations brings significant advantages—it enables quicker processing and minimizes the risk of booking inaccuracies.
If you also use a central reservation system with an integrated channel manager, you can become much more efficient in managing room availability and prices on all the channels you use to take reservations—like Booking or Airbnb.
Such a tool enables you to change prices in one centralized system, and the software automatically updates it, so you don’t have to do it manually on each platform.
Sounds like a real time-saving tool!
Now, when it comes to check-ins, they can be a real pain and hamper efficiency, too.
Take a quick look at this Reddit user’s experience.
They waited to be checked in for 90 minutes (mind you, this was at 1 AM) because in front of them were five guests.
That means the receptionist spent almost 20 minutes checking in each guest.
Yes, a receptionist has to check the reservations, take documents and input them into the system, prepare the key, and so on.
But waiting in the lobby for such a long time really takes from customer experience.
If you replace such check-ins with check-ins through the phone or a self-service check-in kiosk, you could make the process much faster and improve the overall operational efficiency.
This would free up your front desk staff to focus on personalized guest interactions or other tasks.
If you automate how you take reservations and use tools like an online booking engine on your website, you can get more direct bookings.
This is highly beneficial in terms of revenue, as more of it stays your profit since you don’t have to pay additional fees to online travel agencies (OTAs).
But, of course, you have to encourage guests to book directly on your website.
The Yotel Hotel in New York does it smartly—comparing the price their guests would pay when booking through OTA and directly through them.
With automation, you can also make sure your pricing is dynamic at all times.
For example, based on real-time data analysis, automated revenue management systems can adjust room rates in response to demand, competitor pricing, and local events.
This agility ensures your hotel remains competitive and maximizes revenue by capitalizing on peak demand periods.
Improved Guest Experience
Isn't the essence of the hotel business to provide a delightful experience for guests?
Automation is that one piece that can turn this into reality for you—in many exciting ways.
For example, Universal's Aventura Hotel in Orlando offers their guests automation in a form that not many other hotels do.
They equipped each room with a tablet.
Guests love it, and for some, like the family that made a review on this tablet on TikTok, this piece of tech is why they keep returning to Aventura Hotel.
This tablet automates room features like lights, temperature, and TV
Guests can also order room service or anything they are missing just by pressing the icon (for example, blanket, pillow, towel, etc.) without calling reception.
In fact, if they want to communicate with the front desk, they can do it through chat.
If you don't decide to go in full tech mode like Aventura did, you can still improve your guests' experience by automating some of your hotel operations.
Consider reservation automation—guests can include comments or preferences when booking rooms, and automation reservation systems store these details.
This information is invaluable for personalizing guest experience, a feature that guests appreciate and often highlight in positive reviews, as is the case with this TripAdvisor review.
Such personalized experiences often turn travelers into returning guests.
Plus, satisfied guests will likely recommend your hotel to friends and family through word of mouth, generating even more leads.
In essence, even a modest level of automation brings forth a cascade of benefits for your hotel—from customer loyalty and satisfaction to more profit—which is the dream of every hotel out there.
Which Hotel Operations Can be Automated?
As you can see from the examples above, many aspects of your hotel can be automated.
Let's recap the key areas and introduce a few more that can benefit from automation:
|Handling reservation confirmations, modifications, and cancellations through automated systems.
|Optimizing pricing to maximize revenue, responding to real-time factors like demand and competitor pricing.
|Billing and Payments
|Streamlining the billing and payment processes to reduce manual errors and make it faster.
|Engaging with guests at every stage, from sending confirmation emails and pre-arrival information to post-stay feedback requests and personalized promotions.
|Implementing faster check-in experiences through self-service kiosks or mobile check-ins.
|Managing and tracking inventory for essential items such as toiletries, linens, and minibar supplies to ensure timely restocking.
|Automating housekeeping schedules to optimize room turnover, ensuring that all rooms are ready for the next guests on time.
|Streamlining staff management processes, including task assignments, shift scheduling, and performance tracking.
|Automating the process of gathering guest feedback to improve services and address any concerns on time.
Automation can be embedded basically in all hotel operations, from managing reservations and staff to asking guests for feedback.
Still, it doesn't mean automation can replace your staff (or you). It's more about complementing your efforts and saving you time.
Which Hotel Automation Tools Can You Use?
There are many hotel automation tools you can use, all depending on which operations you want to automate.
If you want to automate check-ins through the self-service kiosks, you will invest in that pretty exciting tool.
If, on the other hand, your goal is to automate how you manage hotel bookings and increase room occupancy, the following three software solutions will help you.
Hotel channel managers allow you to sell and manage your hotel inventory simultaneously on multiple channels, including your website and online travel agencies (OTAs).
The channel manager refreshes your availability in real time and synchronizes it across all channels whenever there's a new reservation or a cancellation.
This automation helps you avoid overbookings and saves time since you don't have to update each platform manually.
On top of that, the channel manager balances how you distribute hotel room inventory across various online distribution channels in the first place.
This ensures optimal exposure and efficient utilization of available rooms on different platforms.
At WebBookingPro, we can help you get started with automating.
Our central reservation system comes together with a feature-rich channel manager to increase your occupancy across various channels.
Online Booking Engine
Another important automation tool that WebBookingPro has is a web booking engine.
This tool lets guests directly reserve rooms through your hotel's website. As you get more direct bookings, you avoid paying high fees to OTAs.
Through a user-friendly interface, guests can check room availability, select preferences, and confirm bookings.
What's more, some online booking engines, like ours at WebBookingPro, are completely integrated into your website, as you can see in the example below.
The header, menu, and footer remain the same as on any other page, and guests are not redirected to any third-party sites, which also instills a sense of safety in them.
Front Desk Software
Front desk software is another excellent tool to use in your hotel.
This is a centralized system for managing various front-desk operations, from check-ins to guest interactions.
It helps you accept and process bookings, as well as manage reservation details.
Additionally, this software streamlines tasks such as room assignments, key distribution, and guest information management.
Such a tool at your front desk enhances operational efficiency for your employees and offers a much smoother guest experience.
How to Get Started Automating Your Hotel Processes?
Before we conclude, we have one thing left to do: help you get started on introducing automation in your hotel.
Here are our five steps:
Evaluate Your Pain Points
First, consider if any of the situations we mentioned throughout this article happen in your hotel.
- Is there a queue forming at your front desk because check-in is too slow?
- Is that annoying your guests?
- Do you spend too much time managing all the platforms you use for taking reservations and also end up making mistakes?
Pinpoint areas that would benefit from automation.
Select the Right Tools
When you know which areas or operations to automate, you can think about which tools to use.
For example, if you want to streamline reservation processes, research the tools that cater to this specific need.
Remember, you don’t have to go all in on automation immediately.
Start with the aspect of your operations that needs the most improvement or is simultaneously too time-consuming and low-value.
On the other hand, if you decide to automate in-room features, you can start with just a few rooms.
Then, when you hear the guests’ feedback and see whether or not the automation is solving pain points, you can scale up.
Train Your Staff
Recognize that staff may need time to adapt to automation.
Provide essential training on software and tools for their tasks and familiarize them with guest-facing technology like self-service check-in kiosks.
They have to learn to use software and tools for their work, but they also need to know the nuances of guest-facing technology to help guests when they come for help.
Talk to Your Guests
Finally, if you decide to automate your hotel in any way, you must communicate this to your guests.
Update your website and social media, or send emails to inform them about new booking methods or self-check-in options.
As we said at the beginning of this article, it is such details that will influence your guests’ decision to choose your hotel over the competition.
In the end, automation is a trend in the hotel industry and, we can safely say, the future of hotel operations.
And it makes complete sense: Automation replaces error-prone manual and repetitive tasks, yielding benefits such as enhanced efficiency, increased revenue, and improved guest experiences.
If any doubts lingered about automating your hotel, we trust that the knowledge gained today has dispelled them.
So—reevaluate which hotel operations would benefit most from automation, choose the right tools, and start.
The benefits you gain and the satisfaction of your guests will soon affirm that you made the right choice.