Report Foresees Greater Desire for Hotel Automation
Study reveals that guests favor less touch and more control over their own environment and experiences.
In a recent report by travel industry news site Skift, more than 600 hoteliers and 5,000 consumers worldwide were surveyed about their expectations for the hospitality industry over the next three years. The study, which was sponsored by Oracle Hospitality, centered on four major topics: guest-facing technology; labor and operations; automation and guest data; and ancillaries, upgrades, and non-room revenue.
According to the survey, both guests and hotel management preferred contactless service. More than 60% percent of hospitality executives worldwide said that a fully contactless experience for all basic hotel transactions would be the most likely feature or technology that the industry will adopt widely in the next three years. Likewise, desire for a self-service model, with hotel staff only available upon request, was favored by more than 30% of executive responses. About 26% of guests strongly agreed that they’d be more likely to stay at a hotel offering self-service technology to minimize contact with other people.
“The consumerization of IT has passed the inflection point, and it’s not going back to normal,” said Scott Strickland, executive vice president and chief information officer at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, whose team oversees technology implementations for 9,000 hotels worldwide. “There’s a new baseline to satisfy a guest.”
Chatbots a Practical Example
Strickland specifically foresaw the practical use of chatbots in hotel operations. He noted, for example, that guests could use such technology to make common requests to housekeeping staff, such as “I need more towels.” A guest exiting a shower to discover no bath towels on hand could make a quick and easy (and perhaps less embarrassing) automated call to housekeeping to get the job done.
Laura Calin, Oracle Hospitality vice president of strategy and solutions management, echoed Strickland’s sentiments regarding chatbots in a recent blog post. “The beauty of chatbots is that they allow guests to communicate requests and engage any hotel department via their own mobile devices,” she wrote. “Especially at a time when a labor shortage is disrupting so many markets, chatbots can fulfill a critical role by doing the work of their human colleagues and responding faster to guest inquiries.”
However, travelers still want some human contact. Almost half of all guests surveyed said they would be more likely to stay at a hotel that offered self-service, but they also would like to receive a personal greeting now and then.
Generational Preferences Differ
Age also made a difference when it came to coveting human interaction over automation. Nearly 35 percent of both Gen Z and Millennial travelers said they were very interested in staying at a hotel that uses mainly automated messaging for customer requests, while just 21.3% of Gen X travelers and only 14% of Baby Boomers felt the same way. In fact, more than 20 percent of Baby Boomers wanted to speak and interact with hotel staff for all needs. Only 5% of Gen Z travelers felt similarly.
The study concluded that, while the desire for automation is predicted to build in the next three years and needs to be fulfilled, guest generational differences stress the need to “strike a balance” between technology and human contact.
ISSA and New York State Sheriffs’ Association Jointly Launch Training Program
ISSA is partnering with the New York State Sheriffs’ Association (NYSSA) to launch the first-ever statewide training and certification program for incarcerated individuals in New York’s county jail system.
Thanks to the new program, these individuals can now become certified by ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) as experts on cleaning.
“A partnership with ISSA to offer globally recognized certifications will empower individuals with the validated skills they need for employment,” said NYSSA Executive Director Peter Kehoe. “We couldn’t be happier to provide this resource to sheriffs across the state of New York.”
The training will roll out in phases, beginning first by certifying correction employees as Certified Professional Trainers in the field of commercial cleaning, through CMI’s “Train the Trainer” course.
The second phase will then deploy a new cleaning for health initiative within the correctional facilities, followed by vocational instruction of incarcerated individuals.
“With demands for labor increasing daily, the commercial cleaning industry needs qualified candidates trained on how to clean for health more than ever,” said ISSA Senior Director of Education Brant Insero. “The program will not only ready incarcerated individuals for employment but will be a part of New York’s county jails’ transformation to cleaning for health.”
Insero will speak at the NYSSA Jail Administrator’s Training Conference on September 27 to discuss the new statewide vocational program, with the program’s rollout to start shortly after the conference.
“Over the next 12 months, teams will train, certify, and empower hundreds of individuals that will make an immediate impact as they reenter the workforce,” said ISSA Executive Director John Barrett. “We are honored to work with NYSSA to provide programs that help provide opportunities for rehabilitated incarcerated individuals while strengthening the cleaning industry’s workforce.”