Keeping up with the hotel industry trends is key to ensuring your staff stays productive and your guests happy—and introducing automation is a big part of that.
But with so many types of automation systems on the market, it can be difficult to decide which ones are truly necessary to take your business to the next level.
We are here to help with that.
In today’s article, we’ll present you with 6 automation systems you should consider introducing in your hotel for better operational efficiency and higher guest satisfaction.
Online Booking Engine
The first thing you should consider automating at your hotel is the direct booking process.
Yes, your hotel may be present on several OTAs, and you may feel like you’re getting a good amount of room reservations that way.
But in reality, you’re likely missing out on bookings from prospective guests who don’t want to book a room with you through a third-party channel.
Namely, research conducted by Otamiser shows that a significant number of travelers use OTAs to discover accommodation, but ultimately decide to book directly with the hotel.
On top of that, experienced travelers take to platforms like Reddit to advise others to do the same.
They often highlight the fact that hotels tend to be more flexible, likely to give free upgrades, and offer additional perks to guests who book directly, like in the example below.
So, if you want to reduce your dependency on third-party platforms and relieve your front desk staff from taking phone reservations on top of their other responsibilities, you should consider investing in an online booking engine.
A solution like that will enable your guests to make room reservations directly through your website, allowing you, your staff, and your guests to reap the benefits.
So, how does all that work?
As it turns out, with the right software solution, introducing this automation can be a breeze.
Let’s take WebBookingPro as an example.
This is what our Web Booking Engine can look like once you integrate it into your hotel website.
Source: Hotel Intermezzo
If you’re worried that introducing direct online bookings is going to be an arduous task, you’ll be relieved to hear that this doesn’t have to be the case at all.
Namely, WebBookingPro is a cloud-based system that doesn’t require installation.
In short, by automating your direct booking process, everybody wins:
You get more direct bookings and reduce high third-party commission fees, your staff gets more time to focus on value-added tasks, and your guests get to quickly and securely book accommodation.
When room reservations made directly through your website start rolling in, you might be tempted to completely stop relying on other distribution channels you used up until that point.
After all, juggling your presence on multiple OTAs, metasearch engines, and global distribution systems can be challenging.
However, the CEO of the hotel industry analytics provider Kalibri Labs, Cindy Estis Green, discourages this approach, explaining that each hotel has an optimal channel mix that they need to use in order to maximize their occupancy.
Your hotel’s presence on various distribution channels can lead to increased visibility and market exposure, thus allowing you to attract new guests and keep your occupancy rate high during both high and low seasons.
In fact, even industry giants like Marriott Hotels follow this strategy, explains Alexander Pyhan, Chief Transformation Officer at Marriott International:
"Inherently in the strategy, certain distribution channels such as OTAs obviously play a role in our channel strategy and in our mix, mainly because not every consumer in this world is brand loyal to Marriott. "
However, managing your room listings on multiple distribution channels—each with different rules and requirements—can quickly get overwhelming.
Have you ever received a negative review because someone forgot to mark the room as unavailable on all platforms, leading to it being double booked?
Or perhaps had an awkward conversation with a guest wondering why your room prices vary from one booking website to another?
If so, you might want to look into getting a channel manager.
A hotel channel manager is a tool that enables you to list your rooms on the distribution channels you choose to connect it to, and then it automatically updates room rates and availability across all of them.
Using a channel manager to automate these time-consuming and error-prone tasks is bound to take a huge burden off of you and your staff.
Below, we listed some of the benefits of implementing a channel management system at your hotel.
With the help of this automation, your staff will no longer have to manually update room rates on each individual channel.
They also won’t have to adjust availability as specific rooms get booked and risk making a mistake that can harm your hotel’s reputation.
We believe that the consistency, time savings, and peace of mind that come with using a channel manager are worth the investment, so consider adding it to your tech stack.
Property Management System
As a hotelier, you know how many moving parts are involved in your everyday operations: from handling reservations, check-ins, check-outs, and guest communication to dealing with finances and generating various reports.
Trying to handle it all can get very overwhelming for you and your staff—especially if you don’t have a property management system in place.
So, if you’re looking to introduce automation to your hotel, but don’t know where to start, we suggest you get a PMS first.
Simply put, a robust property management system (or PMS) is a software solution that is going to be at the heart of all your day-to-day operations.
It serves as a central hub for all other systems you use at your hotel, thereby providing you with a synchronized and holistic view of your business.
A PMS solution is going to help you centralize your operations and avoid data silos that can hinder you and your staff from providing your guests with the best possible experience.
For instance, guest data you collect with the help of your PMS can be used to provide personalized recommendations to your guests.
This will make your hotel more than just a place for travelers to sleep—it will turn their stay with you into a well-rounded experience that inspires them to recommend your hotel to everyone they know.
And according to Aditya Sanghi, CEO of a cloud-based hotel PMS Hotelogix, more and more hoteliers are catching on.
So, if you want to see your hotel grow, your operations become more streamlined, and your guests happy with their stay, a good PMS will be your strongest tool in achieving so.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, the technology introduced at hotels in response to it is still present.
Namely, the social distancing requirements pushed hotels to implement various measures to ensure the safety of their guests while maintaining successful business operations.
Today, research shows, a significant amount of travelers would be more likely to book a room at a hotel that required minimal contact with both employees and other guests.
When asked which type of self-service technology introduced during and after the pandemic they would like to see permanently adopted at hotels, over 50% of surveyed travelers singled out contactless check-in and check-out.
Given that the introduction of self-check-in technology can significantly speed up check-in and check-out, thereby reducing the amount of time that would otherwise be spent waiting in line, this number is not surprising.
So, if this is something that your guests would love to see in your hotel, investing in self-service kiosks or even a mobile check-in/check-out app might be a good idea.
Geraldine Calpin, Chief Marketing Officer at Hilton Worldwide, shares that—in response to their guests’ wants and needs—Hilton has developed a mobile app that (among other things) allows them to check into the hotel themselves.
But automating the check-in and check-out process with the help of check-in kiosks or apps doesn’t only benefit your guests eager to get to their rooms after a long trip.
It can also significantly lighten the workload of your front desk staff, providing them with more time to deal with tasks where their presence is indispensable.
Of course, all of this doesn’t mean you need to completely eliminate in-person check-in at the front desk.
In fact, if you combine the two check-in options, both those guests who like personal contact upon arrival and those who don’t get to have the check-in experience suited to their preferences.
Keyless Entry System
Speaking of streamlining the guest experience from the moment they arrive in your hotel, we can’t not mention keyless hotel entry.
Keyless entry systems go hand in hand with self-check-in, allowing your guests to access their rooms without having to pick up the room key upon arrival.
If you decide to go for a solution such as the one in the video below, all your guests will have to do is open their confirmation email containing their digital room key, access the web app, and simply tap the “UNLOCK” button.
Source: 4SUITES on YouTube
Investing in this automation is bound to make your guests happy, especially if you get a lot of business travelers, tourists who just got off a long flight, or simply guests who don’t like waiting for their key at the front desk.
The Tripadvisor review in the image below testifies to this.
Not only does this automation make accessing the hotel room quick and convenient—it also enhances security.
Namely, when you implement a keyless entry system, there is no physical key to be lost or stolen, giving your guests one thing less to worry about during their stay.
Plus, even if the device with the digital key gets misplaced, the key can be deactivated within seconds, which adds another layer of security.
But what about the benefits for you and your staff?
Well, apart from the fact that automating the room entry process saves you valuable time, it can also save you money.
Yes, producing and replacing the traditional key cards when they get lost can quickly get expensive.
But did you know that you could save a significant amount of money on front desk staff, too?
This was the case for The Annex Hotel in Toronto.
Namely, they introduced a keyless entry system at their establishment, enabling their guests to experience seamless access to their rooms.
Ryan Killeen, The Annex’s General Manager, explains:
Thanks to this one simple change, the hotel now needs only one staff member per 24 rooms, saving them over $122,000 on front desk staff every year.
As you can see, streamlining the guest experience with the help of a keyless entry system carries a lot of benefits for everyone involved, so it is definitely an option worth considering.
Energy Management System
For the final automation system type on our list today, we’re stepping away from the front desk and taking a look at an aspect of your operations where you can save a significant amount of money—energy management.
According to research conducted by Statista and Booking.com, rising energy costs are the biggest challenge for an alarming 80% of European hoteliers.
If you share those concerns, and your goal is to reduce both energy consumption and your operational costs, you may want to look into getting an energy management system.
An energy management system (EMS) is software that allows you to control and monitor your electric utilities and electricity-consuming devices.
In general, hotel energy management systems consist of four main components which you can see illustrated below.
Metering sensors can be installed in common areas of the hotel, as well as in guest rooms and any other spaces in which you want to monitor and reduce energy usage.
Then, with the help of sensor technology, your energy management system collects real-time data on energy consumption throughout your hotel.
If a lot of your energy consumption can be attributed to lighting usage, your EMS can help you identify energy and cost savings opportunities.
For instance, when the sensor detects that the room it is monitoring is unoccupied, the EMS can automatically adjust or fully turn off the lights, thereby conserving energy.
As regards the common areas, you and your staff can create a lighting schedule in alignment with occupancy patterns for extra energy efficiency.
A popular EMS solution, the Schneider Electric EcoStruxure, works in that exact way, simultaneously enhancing the guest room experience and reducing energy consumption.
Here is how they explain it:
Aside from reducing energy consumption and decreasing your operating costs, automating energy management at your hotel can help demonstrate your commitment to environmental sustainability.
According to Booking.com’s 2023 Sustainable Travel Report, 76% of the respondents want to travel more sustainably in the next 12 months.
By reducing your carbon footprint with the help of a robust EMS solution, your hotel can meet the requirements of travelers and help them achieve that goal—so don’t overlook this automation.
Deciding which automation solutions your hotel is going to benefit from the most can be challenging.
There are so many software types and providers on the market, so many aspects of operations that can be automated, and so many different guest preferences when it comes to automation.
However, we hope that this article provided you with all the information you need to choose the right systems for your hotel.
Remember: if you implement new solutions gradually, listen to the feedback of your staff and guests alike, and think about the long-term benefits, you’re bound to make the right choice.