The Future of Kiosks in the Hotel Industry

5 minutes
Katie Kochelek

The Future of Kiosks in the Hotel Industry

5 minutes
Katie Kochelek

As headlines continue to publicize self-service technology’s impact on popular markets like QSR, grocery, healthcare, and retail, a quieter transformation is happening in the hotel industry.

While many customer-facing categories aim to provide speed, convenience, and accuracy, this niche of the hospitality industry often measures success through personalized guest experiences – something that seems counter to the very nature of self-service.

Or is it?

When 84 percent of the nation confirms they like using self-service kiosks, utilizing this technology at hotels, resorts, and on cruises can aid in providing the exemplary guest experience these places strive to deliver.

Are kiosks and other self-service solutions the next revolution in this segment?

Current Uses and Benefits of Hotel Kiosks

For a while, hotels have been shifting toward self-service, offering features like digital keys and in-room tablets that allow guests to control room amenities and request services.

In addition to these innovations, other areas of growth have included simplifying the room check-in and checkout process as well as incorporating self-checkout for hotel retail. These changes utilize tools like mobile apps and self-service kiosks.

“Self-service has revolutionized convenience and choice, as customers are now empowered to choose how they interact with the hotel and its services,” explains Aaron Wood, Technical Account Manager at Oracle Hospitality, a company that brings 45 years of experience in providing technology solutions to independent hoteliers, global and regional chains, gaming, and cruise lines. Their hardware, software, and service enable customers to act on rich data insights that deliver personalized guest experiences, maximize profitability, and encourage loyalty.

“Hospitality has always been about face-to-face interaction, but sometimes you just want to grab something to eat or drink from the hotel concession without waiting in line, or check in or out from your own device or a kiosk without having to speak to anyone,” Wood continues.

“[It’s about] providing that choice to the guest, which is crucial to the guest experience,” he asserts. “In the past, guests did not have the choice – it was always join the line at the front desk, call the operator for extra towels, or wait to be served in the hotel concessions.”

Apps and hotel self-service kiosks have introduced the flexibility for guests to perform these tasks autonomously.

Marriott International, a global hospitality leader known for its extensive portfolio of hotel brands, is currently offering hotel guests the convenience of self-checkout in their retail shops at select sites.

“We are presently using self-service technology to improve the hotel retail operating model by rolling out a well-functioning self-checkout solution to enhance guest experience,” says Marelen Salas, Marriott International’s Manager of Retail Operations.

“The addition of the self-checkout has helped reduce front desk transactions resulting in less wait time for guests when making purchases and improving their experience,” she adds.

Similar to hotels and resorts, cruise ships have utilized kiosks to offer convenience to guests onboard, as well. Carnival Cruise Line’s Sail & Sign Kiosks allow guests to easily access and manage their accounts without needing the help of a ship employee.

How Hotel Kiosk Data Can Improve the Guest Experience

Historically, hotel operations have involved hands-on engagement from staff, with separate departments handling different requests and using phones or radios to communicate needs.

“But in this traditional scenario, those actions are not often documented,” Wood says. “And if they are, they may not be recorded in real-time.”

Enter technology to refine the process and provide specific insights.

“Bringing technology and self-service tools into the mix has introduced a more simple and accurate way for hotels to track and report on demands as well as anticipate specific times of the day or week when certain items like rollaway beds or toothbrushes are requested,” Wood states. “With this data, hotels can better plan and execute, ultimately servicing their guests more efficiently.”

Tracking guest preferences and behaviors not only allows for operational efficiency, but can enhance personalization for repeat guests, improve inventory management, and predict future demands.

What’s In-Store for Hotel Self-Service?

Because self-service tools benefit both guests and the hotel organizations that serve them, be prepared to see even greater growth of this technology in the hotel sector.

“We see self-checkout as the future of retail in the hospitality sector,” Salas reveals. “Our plan is to create a playbook and toolkit for self-checkout implementation that could be executed in a larger scale throughout our Marriott portfolio.”

Wood sees the future of self-service in hotels aligning with how we manage air travel.

“[G]uests will be able to be in total control of their stay, from choosing which room they want, setting in-room services such as air conditioning and heating to their desired level, and completing all check-in and payment requirements before their stay,” he explains.

He cautions, though, that self-service tools should be used as a complement to personalized service versus a replacement.

“The importance of face-to-face interactions with staff and guests across a property cannot be understated, and it is a mistake to try to implement self-service to replace those interactions,” he emphasizes. “Instead, hotels should seek to add tools that provide guests a choice – one that makes sense to them and is equally convenient.”

Wood also encourages businesses to keep accessibility in mind when rolling out self-service programs. These tools create a more personalized experience, allowing people with disabilities to take advantage of the ease of engagement with a screen or features like voice-controlled assistance.

“Having options for self-service offerings can help ensure guests feel taken care of and contribute to confidence in a hotel or brand, ultimately building loyalty,” Wood concludes.

With the integration of self-service technology like hotel kiosks, the hospitality industry is evolving to further enhance guest experiences. As these options expand, accommodation businesses in this sector will achieve success by finding the right balance between personalization and automation.


Frank Mayer has manufactured kiosks for countless industries, including the hotel sector. Visit our hospitality kiosk page for more information about self-service in this vertical.

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