Self-service kiosks were invented in the year 1977 by Murray Lappe, a pre-med student at the University of Illinois. Students and campus visitors used the kiosk to find movies, maps, directories and bus schedules. Over the years, new innovations like touch screens, the internet, and embedded computing have helped bring kiosks to the mass market. It's now being used in shopping malls as an interactive directory, government offices as a 24/7 counter service, etc. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has fostered the adoption of kiosks in the hospitality business.
I found that, after interviewing my friends and family, most of them wanted contactless hotel experience post-COVID. On the other hand, hoteliers prefer to reduce close contact with their guests to reduce the risk. Now, there are many things a hotel needs to consider before buying a kiosk. I listed below some of the things that you need to consider before deciding on buying a hotel kiosk.
What you will need to consider before buying a hotel kiosk:
- The location where you plan to install the kiosk. Single locations or multiple locations?
- Space available. The kiosk comes in different dimensions. Find out the types of Kiosk available.
- Ability to serve walk-in guests (for reservation and payment purposes)
- Ability to serve in-house guests (for room extension and check-out)
- Integration with your current hotel PMS. Find out the types of PMS available.
- Integration with your current hotel door lock. Find out types of hotel door lock available.
- Fallback service. In the event of hardware failure, will the kiosk provide fallback services like emergency contact and system notifications?
- Service and support to perform maintenance on the hardware.
What kind of integrations are needed between the self-check-in kiosk with your hotel PMS:
- Room availability integration. The kiosk will get the room availability and room rates from your hotel PMS.
- Transaction recordings. The kiosk will need to push payment as the transaction to the guest folio (in your hotel PMS)
- Guest check-in / out integration. Allowing guest check-in /out using the hotel self-service kiosk.
- Room status. The kiosk will need to get the room status and the room status also need to be updated on the hotel PMS upon guest check-in / out.
Why a hotel should consider adopting a hotel self check-in kiosk now? Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the hotels are not operating at full capacity, this is the best time to upgrade your technology. It's hard to replace your PMS, train your team while your hotel is operating at full capacity, or at least it's not easy. Kiosks are proven to be effective in reducing costs while providing a consistent experience to your hotel guest. It's not a COVID pandemic solution, the kiosk will be useful (if not more) after COVID to serve your hotel guest when travel rebound.
I believe more technologies like robotic and IoT will be used in the hospitality business moving forward. Hotel self check-in kiosk plays a vital role as it could later be upgraded to work as the key interface between your hotel and your guests.