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Is Automation The Future Of Hospitality?


With over 300 million employees, the hospitality industry is one of the largest in the world. In the final part of this blog series, we will investigate how the expected changes could improve the hospitality industry’s talent crisis.

Is Automation The Future Of Hospitality?

The recent trends of home-sharing, remote working hostels, and micro hotels have been seen to disrupt the industry. These alternative accommodations have provided new opportunities for businesses and travelers.

These types of accommodations are not as new as we are led to believe, as they have been used as alternatives to hotels for a long time. This was highlighted by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. He said that the launch of alternative accommodations responds to customer demand and has been used by big-name hotel chains for years.

There Is A More Significant Disruptor Of the Hospitality Industry

Automation is a much more disrupting factor in the hospitality industry and will be more commonplace in the near future. For example, Alibaba has seen success in its robot hotels in Hangzhou, China. They are also expanding the “Flyzoo future hotel platform”.

Flyzoo marries hospitality with technology, where you can book your accommodation with an app. The technology gives you a seamless guest experience at the hotel, using facial recognition, a smart assistant in each room to control everything, and a robot to take care of your room service needs. This technology can be integrated into the Chinese social credit system, which will make sure everyone is following the rules.

One of the goals of automated accommodation is to overcome the challenges involved with training and supervising staff members. This is because China’s hospitality industry is regarded as an extremely unattractive career for its inhabitants.

In 2017 a report released by the third-party testing organization, Lanmei, revealed that even in high-end five-star hotels such as the Intercontinental, JW Marriott, and Shangri-La had customer service problems, such as unclean bathrooms and bedrooms.

The report revealed that low pay, employee discipline, and social customs were behind the low cleaning standards guests were experiencing. In addition to this, hotel employees are paid extra to clean more rooms per day. Therefore, they are stretched to get the work done to a standard that most guests consider acceptable.

Similar experiments with automated accommodation have been carried out in Japan. However, the results were not so successful, causing several hotels to stop using robot service assistants as they were plagued with malfunctions and customer complaints.

Would Automation Work In The USA?

Automated accommodation is an undeniable aspect of China’s future, but would this system address the hospitality talent crisis in the western hemisphere?

For a full-service hotel, the labor costs are currently about 45% in the USA, which is a significant increase in the 29% seen in 1980. But with a massive 85% of USA’s money  is spent on domestic travel, how would customers react to a fully automated hotel on their trips?

A recent white paper from Deloitte Digital investigated how human interaction affects hospitality companies’ customer loyalty and income. They observed that the most successful hotels were the ones with the most engaging employees and ones that could surprise guests with new and personal experiences.

These findings suggest that total automation in hotels may not be the answer. Travelers prefer a humanized experience that gives them a taste of the local scene, which they would not get when staying in a fully automated hotel.

Elements of automation could help provide a much better experience for travelers. Automated processes could free up more time for hotel employees to improve the human experience. With the oncoming wave of new hotels, the big names in hospitality can revolutionize the industry by developing their services’ human side. The hospitality industry’s future will be won by those who employ quality, talented individuals with a vested interest in the business. By leveraging the available technology, hotels could divert their efforts to be more guest-focused and provide more social interaction.

Author Bio – 

Alexander Mirza, The Founder & CEO of Mogul – Humanizing Travel. Its platform provides booking, service and talent solutions for the hospitality industry.

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