How to implement self-service at your resort without losing the human touch

Mobile tech empowers your guests and streamlines their experience. But, does it detract from the human aspect of a stay at a resort?
Adam Catterall
February 2024

Rocco Forte, Executive Chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels once said: “The staff are the service. The people who work in the hotel interacting with the guests are creating the product, they are the people who are important; they are the ones who make it happen."

But, as hotels and resorts invest more and more in technology to offer services without the need for human interaction, does that mean that we’re detracting from the overall product? 

AI’s a hot topic at the moment, and people are split on whether they want new technology implemented into their daily lives. In a survey by the Ada Lovelace Institute, more than half of respondents expressed concern about AI and how it'll affect them.

As champions of intuitive technology, we think tech has huge potential for busting friction points and improving real-world experiences. But, it’s important to apply technology to the touchpoints that bring real value and ease frustration. 

In this blog, we’ll take a look at how you can identify those touchpoints while freeing up your staff to provide highly-personalised customer service. So let’s start by exploring what your guests look for in their resort experience. 

Guests want self-service options, but they also want choice

PlayUSA recently surveyed 1,000 Americans about their opinions of tech-based interactions. A key finding was that the majority of guests are in favour of self-service technology at a resort or hotel, without the need for social interaction:

  • 66% would choose a self-service kiosk over a human-run checkout.
  • 60% of people said they use self-service kiosks and mobile apps so they don’t have to talk to people.
  • Perhaps most surprisingly, nearly 1 in 6 would wait for a self-service kiosk even if the human-run checkout had no line.

Younger generations like Gen Z and Millenials in particular expect tech-based interactions, and are moving away from face-to-face customer assistance. A Gartner survey found that these generations operate with a ‘self-service or no service’ mindset, and will often give up on requests if they can’t solve them using self-service technology.

A guest using a mobile phone to check in

So the tech works, but what’s the cost? Well, the downside to intuitive technology is the reduction in face-to-face interactions. Which, for some, detracts from their experience:

  • 67% of people feel more lonely or isolated because of fewer face-to-face interactions.
  • 75% feel that tech-based interactions have led to decrease in their social skills.
  • 68% feel that tech-based interactions have led to a decrease in empathy.

For many, a friendly face at check-in to help them with their bags or show them to their room is a valuable part of what makes an enjoyable getaway experience. Many holidaymakers enjoy getting to know the staff over the course of their visit, forming friendly relationships to make their stay more memorable.

Looking at both sides, it’s clear that implementing technology to take away the tedium in the resort experience is the right move. But, in-person customer service is also very important. So how do you create a happy medium between the two?

Balancing tech and talk

Aaron Shepherd, the CEO of travel technology company APS, said ‘the tech-driven future we are moving towards is full of traditional human elements. We must use technology to meaningfully enhance human moments. One does not replace the other; instead, they operate as two sides of the same coin.’ 

That’s a good way of thinking about it. Tech takes away the burden on staff to fulfil constant repeat requests and opens up their role to provide personalised and highly empathetic customer service. Guests can use tech processes that meet their expectations and have meaningful human interactions along the way.

A staff member helping a customer.

Let’s take a look at probably the best example of tech and staff working together: your front desk. If you implement self-service kiosks and contactless check-in to replace your physical front desk, you’ll cater to one group but not the other. Running both tech-based interactions and face-to-face support simultaneously gives your guests the choice of how they want to check-in.

The benefit here is that the tech solutions are keeping guests flowing, improving your operations and giving your hotel staff more opportunities to provide VIP face-to-face service to those who want it. This means they can:

  • Make guests feel truly welcome with personalised greetings, rather than worrying over repetitive admin tasks.
  • Offer assistance to guests with specific accessibility needs.
  • Take the time to explain how the resort runs in detail, so guests don't feel overwhelmed with information.

The front desk is an important place to start because first impressions matter. After that, you can look at other areas of your resort guest experience that would benefit from the same treatment.

Applying the balance across your resort

Look at other areas of your resort. Where can tech take the burden away from you staff so they can focus on meaningful interaction? Here's some ideas:

  • You can offer mobile food ordering and room service for guests that prefer casual cuisine in their room, allowing your waiters to provide first-rate table service to sit-down diners.
  • You can let guests book activities directly from their device, giving room for a staff concierge to have personalised conversations with guests that aren’t sure what activities are right for them.
  • Interactive wayfinding can take away the ‘Where can I find the...?’ requests that staff have to deal with regularly, and allow them to help guests that have more complex needs, such as needing assistance due to mobility issues.
  • You can provide guests with information about the daily running of the resort inside the app, but staff are available to help guests who have specific questions or special requirements.

You shouldn’t limit your view to tech-savvy people and non-tech-savvy people. It’s about creating room for your staff to do what they do best, make a guest’s stay memorable with exceptional customer service. The technology takes away the heavy lifting, meaning staff have the time and energy to focus on service.

A waiter pouring champagne

Technology and your staff working together

‘The continued influence of technology isn’t a departure from hospitality,’ says Aaron Shepherd, ‘rather, technology is the key to our industry getting back to hospitality and what matters most within our world: the guest.’

Your tech-based interactions take away a lot of the heavy lifting for your staff, freeing them up to provide five-star service through personal interactions. Your guests get more choice, streamlined service, and helpful assistance on hand should they need it. Smiles all round!

If you’re yet to implement your tech and are on the lookout for a mobile app partner, take a look at how the platform supports hotels and resorts here.

Adam Catterall

Roller coaster buff and black belt content writer
February 2024
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