A Smart Hotel is a hotel equipped with disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and IOT (Internet of Things), with the aim of improving management, efficiency and control from the hotel management, as well as offering a better service to guests.
Smart hotel automation is a process of turning manual and time-consuming tasks into ones that are performed with little to no human involvement. The goal of using automation is to save time and costs, reduce human error and enhance operational efficiency and ROI
A hotel automation system can transform every stage of the guest journey, as well as how your hotel operates. Take a look at how.
The hotel and short-term rental (STR) markets are merging. Hotels and STR list on the same marketing channels and travelers are open to staying at either during their research phase. So, instead of focusing on the kind of stay they’ll get, whether that be a hotel, an STR, or an alternative, guests increasingly just want tech-enabled convenience, independence, and personalization. They expect to get to their room as soon as they arrive, and they don’t want to rely on key cards they can easily lose.
By automating your guest’s check-in with smart locks and an access management tool, you can give guests the autonomy they look for as you take pressure away from your front desk.
Automation allows you to engage your customers with your hotel and services as early as possible in the guest journey with curated content about their stay.
With branded web app, you can create digital guidebooks with insights into your amenities, special deals, and the local area. You can also provide all the information guests need for an autonomous stay, including parking information, check-in details, and WiFi access. Plus, you can include links to extras such as guided tours and poolside service.
When your team is concerned with manual tasks like managing access, swiping key cards, and checking guests in, they naturally struggle to deliver a great guest experience. By implementing self check-in and automated room access, your team will have the breathing space they need to give guests what they appreciate most—time and attention. And with a scheduling and task management tool, you can go even further by making it easy to create tasks on the fly and be responsive to guests’ special requests and needs.
Automated scheduling and task management tools can also allow you to better understand team performance by tracking tasks like departure cleans.
With branded web app, you can pull data from the last quarter and compare efficiency across your team, with reports highlighting in red and green who’s going too fast and who’s going too slow. Then it’s up to you if you wish to stick with those at-a-glance insights, or, since the reports are very data rich, drill down for further investigation.
Automation helps you spend less on staff by simplifying processes, replacing manual tasks, and reducing your need to operate the front desk—which you can do with an automated mobile check-in flow.
Below are a few examples of how automation is used in a variety of hotel departments. If you have a cloud-based hotel management platform with an open API, you can easily integrate with the automation apps, tools, and services that are right for your business. Check out Cloudbeds’ Marketplace for an idea of which services are readily available to lodging businesses today.
These days, most hotels – and an increasing number of inns, hostels, B&Bs, and vacation rental properties – use hotel management software. At the heart of front desk operations is the PMS, which facilitates reservations, check-in, room assignments, and other tasks, as well as acts as the central hub for other applications. Other functions can help streamline housekeeping and maintenance processes, digitize task management checklists, and automate alerts to ensure tasks are completed on time. Integrated payment processing enables properties to offer contactless payments while facilitating tasks like payments reconciliation and reducing late charges and chargebacks.
Powering improvements to the guest experience are tools that enhance guest engagement and self-service, like automated email confirmations and pre-arrival messages, upsell tools, and mobile check-in applications. With a guest engagement tool, hoteliers and hosts can send and reply to guests’ messages using the guest’s preferred mode of communication, including SMS, Whatsapp, Messenger, WeChat, and more. Hoteliers can also automate certain types of guest messaging, such as answering frequently asked questions in real-time using auto-replies and chatbots. After the stay, automated email requests for a survey or online review can help generate valuable feedback.
While we’re probably a long way off before robots can clean hotel rooms as well as a human can, today, a variety of automation solutions are enhancing the guestroom experience. For example, hoteliers and hosts can cut energy costs by using energy efficiency solutions that allow you to control HVAC appliances, like air conditioning, via a mobile app. There are also automation tools that provide mobile concierge services to facilitate the fulfillment of guest requests.
While computers have yet to crack the creative aspects of marketing, a number of technology solutions are available today to automate day-to-day marketing tasks. This includes email marketing and CRM solutions that send targeted promotional emails to guests to online reputation management software that helps hotels monitor and respond to reviews and boost ratings on review sites. If you want to completely automated your hotel marketing, you can even use a done-for-you marketing service like Cloudbeds Amplify to create a conversion-focused website, run your metasearch and search engine marketing efforts, and manage all your business listings.
There are six main processes you can look to automate. These are:
Pre-stay guest engagement
As well as engaging your guests with digital guidebooks, you can use pre-stay communications to ensure guests have everything they need before they arrive.
An in-app two-way messaging solution is simple for your customers to use, keeps them within your branded digital experience, and makes it convenient for them to book an upgrade or other upsells.
By implementing mobile check-in, you give guests independence and convenience. Apply web app with your PMS and smart locks, in your guests book, they’re automatically texted or emailed a link to a branded web app. Here, they can explore your guidebooks, verify their identity, and complete a security deposit as part of their online check-in. Then their unique mobile key is automatically activated according to their check-in time.
Part of the solution for a fully optimized hotel check-in process is providing digital access with mobile key, which you can do by upgrading your existing locks to smart locks for a fraction of the price of replacing them.
Aside from the transformation in your guest experience, you’ll gain a clearer overview of your operations, and be able to manage departure cleans more efficiently, too, with automated notifications for when guests check out.
Employee scheduling and reporting
As we highlighted earlier, you can use software to automate your teams’ schedules. For example, you can set task time estimates in your task rules for the software to automate the daily plan according to who’s working that day. So, when you arrive in the morning, the team can already see how the schedule will be divided between them.
By integrating payroll software with your scheduling solution, you can ensure staff are paid correctly and on time. All you have to do is approve the weekly time sheets for the paychecks or direct deposits to be generated.
With a smart thermostat connected to a manager’s dashboard that in turn integrates with your PMS, you can automate energy control by programming your heating and cooling to kick in based on check-in and check-out times. Guests get comfort on arrival with your customized temperature settings, and you can market your hotel as environmentally friendly while saving on costs in the process.
As hotels struggle with labor shortages, automation is essential to delivering a great guest experience. By handling what were traditionally manual tasks, like check-in, hotel technology reduces pressure on staff, helps minimize errors, and increases guest autonomy and independence.
As automation technology becomes better integrated, more cloud-based, and more guest-friendly, an increasing number of hotel tasks will become automated. Now is the time to embrace automation to ensure your property isn’t left behind.