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How PMSs Help Mobile Applications Push Hospitality Forward

by
Jan Hejny
2 days ago

Guests’ satisfaction has been dependent on the work of hotel employees for a long time. However, hotels may not have enough staff (a common phenomenon today) or they may encounter understandable staff limits (people are not reachable nonstop or can be slow, etc.). This can lead to problematic situations such as check-in queues or insufficient communication with guests.  Therefore, the dependency of guest satisfaction on the performance of the staff only may not be the best possible solution for a hotel. Especially nowadays, when there is an option to supplement the work of hotel employees with available systems. Mobile applications, software designed to improve the care that guests receive in hotels, are a typically great support for the work of staff.  But it’s not just about mobile applications, the story of service improvements begins (traditionally) with PMSs.   PMS and third-party systems Several systems are available for hotels. However, in order for their operation to develop thanks to the use of these systems, it is necessary to connect them “to solid foundations”, i.e. a good PMS. Not only because PMS simplifies hotel administration and increases its efficiency, but also because it gathers lots of information that third-party systems need to use. That’s why, for the good of the hotels, the responsibilities of PMSs should include “openness”, which means they should be enabling integrations with third-party software.  But not all PMSs work that way. In many places, it is a standard even today to use PMS which does not support integration. Such a hotel then becomes a “prisoner” of its own system and deprives itself of the possibility to move its services forward. On the other hand, this situation is ideal for PMS itself, it keeps the client in hand and does not let third-party software in. At the same time, the PMS tries to provide everything the hotelier needs through its native functions. But that will never work, PMSs cannot do everything. On the other hand, what they can (and must) be capable of, is collecting data and providing it to integrated systems.   Quality comes first Not using the data provided by PMS limits the hotel’s potential and profits. Problems may arise in various places – dissatisfied guests may wait a long time for check-in, staff may spend endless hours manually entering and processing data or sending emails to guests. But we can solve or even prevent all such problems today – thanks to mobile applications for example.  Mobile applications complement (or substitute) the work of hotel staff. Just as hotel staff, mobile applications are guests’ company during the hotel trip, they only differ in the sense that some of them are “with the guests” throughout the whole stay whereas some accompany them just through part of it.  But why does the choice of PMS matter when it comes to mobile applications? Because the quality of the integration is of the essence. The more features the mobile application has, the more data needs to be transmitted and the more complex integration has to be built. It is still true that PMSs must be an open platform (providing APIs and integrating third-party systems) but that’s just half of the story. They must also be able to build complex integrations, i.e. exchange data with complex systems such as AeroGuest, a mobile application that is with guests from booking to check-out. The amount of data this system needs is huge. The quality of integration is crucial.   One small step for a hotelier, one giant leap for a hotel As was said, the mobile application may accompany guests during part of their stay or take care of them from the journey’s start to its end. The choice of specific application(s) for a hotel depends on the hotelier – whether he wants to enable online check-in, install mobile locks on doors, automate communication with guests, increase revenue by supporting upselling, etc. In the category of systems that are with the guest “from start till the end”, we can find applications such as AeroGuest, which is a system that allows online check-in/out, online payment for a hotel room, an upgrade of hotel room via mobile phone, upselling or installation of mobile locks. The second category consists of applications (GuestJoy, MyStay, Upsellguru), which focus on part of the journey of hotel guests, that means for example on automation of communication with guests, enabling online check-in, or increasing the effectiveness of upselling.  But if we distinguish the systems only according to how big part of the guest’s journey they can take care of, we remain too superficial. It is important to look deeper, for example, at the level of automation that various applications bring to hotels.  There is a huge difference between online check-in meaning only pre-filling in the information or meaning taking care of the whole process via mobile phone (and thus not having to come to the front desk upon arrival) or between having to pick up a door key/card or not (and thus going straight to the room after arrival). Guests can also spot a difference between the possibility of ordering extra services or upgrading the room directly through the mobile application and the situation in which the application just informs guests and they have to write an email or ask someone in order to get some of the available services.  It depends only on the hotelier which solution he picks. But whatever his preferences, the way to open the hotel to third-party systems must begin with the right choice of PMS. Its selection is a giant leap for the entire hotel, as it is the basis for the proper functioning of third-party systems that then take staff work and guests’ experience to the next level. That brings us back to the beginning. The more complex the application, the better integration a hotel needs. If a hotelier chooses the right PMS, his only limitations when picking mobile applications are his own preferences.  

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6 PMS Integrations that Save Time

by
Sarah Duguay
2 months ago

At the heart of operations, the property management system (PMS) powers efficiency and productivity across hotel departments, but is rarely a lone warrior when it comes to a hotel’s technology. Even small hotels work with numerous tech systems, including payment processing systems, electronic locks, and online distribution channels. Along with the PMS, all of these systems are key to serving guests and rely on some of the same data: guest credit card payments are processed via a payment gateway and also recorded in the PMS; key cards and digital keys are encoded through the locking system using reservation information; and OTA bookings must be entered into the PMS and inventory adjusted on your OTA channels. If these systems are working in silos, your staff have to act as go-betweens, manually duplicating data across systems, which is time consuming and prone to human error. You know what they say about teamwork—well, that applies to your hotel tech too. Through direct integration, your PMS can work with your other hotel systems to automate processes and save hotel staff a lot of time. Here are six key PMS integrations that will further enhance operational efficiency so that you and your team can spend less time behind a computer and more time providing an even better guest experience.   Channel Management Third-party distribution channels, including GDS, OTA and metasearch channels, are a crucial component of almost any hotel’s distribution strategy. With their big advertising budgets and expansive reach, these purpose-built travel aggregators make properties more visible online and bring in a big chunk of bookings. When your online distribution channels are not connected with your PMS, your property’s availability and rates have to be updated to each of those channels manually, and reservations coming through them must be manually entered into your PMS. It’s an ongoing and time-consuming task with a high risk of overbooking if availability is not updated fast enough. But there’s a better way. Two-way integration between a hotel’s PMS and channel partner automates this important process, eliminating the need to duplicate data manually and improving accuracy. Through the integration, the PMS automatically pushes allocated inventory to the channel partner, including inventory updates and overrides. When a booking is made through a channel partner, the reservation data is automatically sent to the PMS and availability is automatically adjusted across all connected channels. Say goodbye to overbooking and hello to having more time for your guests!   Payment Processing If your property accepts card payments you’ll be working with a payment gateway, which securely communicates the guest’s payment information to the payment processing network. If your payment gateway is not integrated with your PMS, approved transactions must be manually posted to reservations in the PMS, slowing down the check-in/check-out process. With a payment gateway integration, payment information entered into the booking form is automatically sent through the payment processing network and transactions are automatically posted in the PMS in real time. Not only that, but a payment gateway integration also steps up security with point-to-point encryption and tokenization to protect credit card data from hackers and keep credit card numbers out of the PMS for PCI compliance. If you want to accept online payments through your property’s website, payment gateway integration is a must for an automated and secure online booking process and contactless check-in experience. Simplifying payments, authorizations and refunds, and improving security, payment gateway integration is one of the most important PMS integrations for any property.   Room Access Electronic lock and digital key integrations simplify access management and also speed up the check-in process. Key cards have been widely used across all hotel segments for decades. Times are now changing and more and more properties are shifting to digital (mobile) key solutions. Either way, let’s look at how integrating your room access solution with your PMS makes life at the front desk easier. A key card integration allows key cards to be encoded and managed directly through the PMS, which automatically sends relevant reservation data (room number, length of stay, etc.) to the key card system. This means that front desk staff no longer have to re-enter this information into the key card system manually, they just have to swipe the card to encode it. If your property is using a keyless access solution (mobile key or keypad locks), integration with the PMS automates key delivery to the guest upon check-in. In this case, the PMS automatically sends reservation data to your keyless access solution, which then generates a mobile key or keycode for the guest, automatically activating the key upon check-in and deactivating it upon check-out. Whether you want to implement a seamless contactless check-in experience or streamline check-in at the front desk, integrating your PMS with your locking system is key (pun intended).   Point of Sale (POS) Along with the PMS, a POS system is essential for properties with an on-site restaurant. These core systems are a great example of two systems that work better together. Without a connection between the two, restaurant charges that are to be charged to a guest’s room must be communicated to the front desk and manually added to the reservation folio in the PMS. This manual process not only adds yet another administrative task to your front desk’s to-do list, but is prone to human error and billing discrepancies that can result in dissatisfied guests and lost revenue. When the POS system is integrated with the PMS, the software completes this task for you in real time. When a guest wants to charge a meal to their room, the transaction is entered into the POS system, which—via the integration—automatically queries the PMS to verify guest status, room number, and credit authorization limit. If the charge is approved, the POS system automatically posts the charge to the reservation folio in the PMS. Automating the process of posting restaurant charges to reservations with a PMS + POS integration not only saves hotel staff time but ensures billing accuracy, reducing customer complaints and preventing lost revenue.   Revenue Management The unprecedented market environment brought about by the pandemic has turned many hotels toward revenue management software (RMS) to better navigate and optimize room pricing. Continuously consolidating and analyzing hotel and market data to produce pricing recommendations based on sophisticated algorithms, automated RMS improve demand forecasting and remove the guesswork from the pricing process, saving hotel operators a lot of time poring through data and trying to foresee the future. Integrated with the PMS, the combined solution saves even more time. PMS data (including reservations, inventory, and availability) is a critical part of the revenue management equation and must be updated in the RMS in a timely, ongoing manner. Without an integration, that task is the responsibility of—you guessed it—you or your staff. But when your PMS and RMS are connected, all relevant PMS data is automatically passed along to the RMS via the integration at a transactional level for optimal forecasting accuracy, pricing and inventory control. In turn, accepted pricing recommendations generated by the RMS need to be updated to the PMS and the integration can do this too. Separately, both the PMS and RMS drive efficiency and revenue, but together they make an even more powerful team.   SMS / Guest Messaging The pandemic also accelerated the adoption of guest messaging / SMS applications to address the need for clear communications and contactless services. Mobile messaging is the preferred mode of communication for many guests, but if it isn’t integrated into hotel operations properly it can be inefficient and cause customer dissatisfaction. How can staff find the time to manage another communication channel? A successful guest messaging strategy depends on PMS integration. The integration between a guest messaging platform and PMS automatically sends reservation data to the messaging application in real time to trigger personalized routine text messages to guests prior to arrival, at check-in, during their stay and upon departure as defined by the property. Incoming messages and requests from guests are automatically matched to the guest’s reservation data to identify the guest and resolve issues faster. As guest messaging becomes a more prevalent guest communication channel for hotels, integration with the PMS maximizes efficiency by automating routine communications and ensuring no guest slips through the cracks. Hotel technology is designed to increase productivity and revenue and, just like people, your hotel systems can work better together to achieve their full potential.

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Adapting to Changing Traveler Behaviors and Expectations in 2022

by
Andrew Gogus
2 months ago

Understanding travel trends and behaviors has been somewhat more difficult to recognize in the midst of the pandemic. However, some undeniable facts remain for the changing traveler behaviors and expectations. It's important to learn and adapt in order for your business to reach its highest potential and maximize revenues. To begin, the traveler demographic is notably shifting and we will be seeing a great increase in the amount of Gen Z travelers. Generation Z, or Gen Z, includes anyone born between 1995 - 2012. This is the first generation that is digitally native. Meaning that the generation grew up with technology from a very early age. As some hoteliers might see this group as low-spending, that is in fact not true. Not only do the younger ones influence the destinations chosen by their parents, but older Gen-Zers are said to spend even more than regular tourists. Eager to travel and experience the world, young travelers are likely to return and give more value to the destination over their lifetime. According to UNWTO “Young people see travel as an essential part of their everyday lives, rather than just a brief escape from reality.” In order to capture the attention of the first digitally native generation, it's crucial to be as visible as you can online, provide a smooth booking process, and be able to offer customized promotions to guests.   Grow Online Visibility Across New Booking Channels It is almost inevitable that your property needs to have a strong online presence. This means not only having a website for your property that allows travelers to book but also being visible and listed on multiple different online travel agencies (OTAs). Being present on multiple different platforms greatly increases the segment of travelers you are able to reach. Different countries and regions have different booking habits when it comes to choosing an OTA, so it is important that your property is listed on those websites. According to Expedia, “Gen Zers turn 31% more to OTAs than they were prior to the COVID-19 crisis.” Surely, trying to manage your property on different platforms and keeping everything up to date, will be very difficult and time-consuming. This is where a channel manager will be the most beneficial to you and your property. A channel manager is a tool that enables hoteliers to connect to multiple different OTA’s and allows them to manage bookings and update inventory from one platform. Choosing the right channel manager will help you not only bring in more guests and maximize profits but also save time allowing you to focus on offering a seamless guest experience.   Facilitate Quick Booking via Your Direct Channel There is a fundamental difference between older and newer generations. It's important to understand and leverage these differences to your advantage. According to global studies, while millennials have an attention span of 12 seconds, Gen Zers have decreased this to 8 seconds. This means you have an average of 8 seconds to make the best first impression and encourage the travelers into the booking flow. Doing so requires you to have a seamless booking experience. Enabling your guests to easily choose a room type, date, and payment method is essential. These can all be attained by using a booking engine. Booking engines are important tools that are easily placed into your website, and enable guests to directly book from your website without going to any 3rd party websites. This helps you provide the quickest and best experience for your guests. Choosing the right booking engine for your property will not only capture traffic but will also cause less frustration for both you and your guests. Easing the workload for your staff is also a huge benefit.  Having rates and availability synced and updated with each reservation, gives your team the time and energy to focus on different tasks, in return providing a better experience for your guests.    Offer Exclusive Services and Promotions Even though the attention span may be shorter, Gen Zers actually recall advertising content better than millennials and Gen X. This plays a key role in retaining guests and them coming back for multiple visits. Younger consumers record a high rate of brand preference, meaning they relate closely to the brands they are choosing. They are attracted by a brand’s reputation on the environment, its customer care, and product exclusivity. Sustainability and eco-friendliness are major trends and should somehow be implemented to your property. Changes made can range anywhere from using recyclable materials, reducing waste, eliminating plastic utensils, to almost anything that shows that your business cares. Customer care and product exclusivity are other things you should consider offering. Being in the hospitality industry, it should already be pretty evident that customer care should be one of the highest priorities. Product exclusivity, on the other hand, may seem more difficult, but it actually isn't. Offering your guests special deals and coupons that can be used during the booking process, will provide a great deal of interest. These are where it's important to have a promotion engine integrated with your booking process because together they will provide a quick, easy, and rewarding experience. Promotions help you generate appeal and attraction - both of which will drive up bookings. Leveraging promotions to your advantage is important to capture all types of bookings.    Leverage a Hotel CRM to Drive Loyalty Understanding the travelers’ new behaviors and expectations helps you make the right decisions. We see that the younger travelers prefer brands that align with their values and that they can have a bond with. GRM (Guest Relationship Management) tools help build a relationship with your customers that, in turn, creates loyalty and customer retention.  According to RjMetrics, repeat customers are likely to spend 300x more. Building this relationship may sometimes seem difficult, especially during these times. Guest relationship management tools help you get in contact with guests in their native language before their stay, help guests to make any travel arrangements they may need, and address any customer complaints quickly and effectively. You will also be able to interact with guests even after they have stayed at your property, which is just as important as before they arrive. Leaving a good impression even post-stay is a great way to leave the best mark. Considering the irreversible impact of the pandemic on the traveler behavior, the influential Gen Z and the ever-changing nature of the travel industry, it becomes inevitable for you to change the way you do business. Understanding these trends and adapting to them will help you make the right decisions and show you where you should focus more of your energy on. Whether it be providing your guests with a more seamless booking experience with the booking engine, simplifying your operations with the channel manager or improving your guest relationships with promotional coupons and following up with post and pre-stay emails. These tools will allow you to keep up with the new trends and attract travelers who have an entirely different mindset.  

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Hotel Sustainability: 27 Statistics Illustrating the Growth of ESG in the Hotel Industry

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Are you wondering if the industry’s focus on sustainable practices is just a passing trend or if the sustainable hotels movement is here to stay? Or are you looking for inspiration as you strive to make your hotel more diverse and inclusive? It’s not only travelers who are increasingly looking for more sustainable and ethical options where they can stay at hotels who focus on initiatives for a clean carbon footprint and minimal environmental impact like food waste reduction and reducing high impact guest experience touch points like daily room cleanings. Investors, hospitality management professionals and owners are recognizing that hotels that rate highly on the ESG scale are not only attractive investments, but they also provide the services and benefits that both guests and employees are looking for. Hotels are a large stakeholder within local environmental ecosystems and given the hospitality industry’s carbon intensive nature (i.e. flying on an airplane) hoteliers are sensitive to ensure that once guests arrive at their destination that they do everything they can to minimize impact. The good news is that there are tons of great options today like low-flow toilets, reusable refillable bottles, digital key cards, organic food, composting straws and energy-saving air conditioning. In this article, we’ll explain what exactly ESG means for hotels and run through 27 statistics that show ESG in the hotel industry is here to stay.

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Hotel Payments Processing: Understanding the Fees and Stakeholders

by
Jan Hejny
4 months ago

Most hoteliers don't know how much they're paying for transactions. Do you? Sure, many can tell you their Booking.com commission rate, yet, if you start digging and asking (the right) questions, you'd be surprised to realize that payments fees are out of sight and out of mind. Chances are that if you knew what you were paying you wouldn't be particularly thrilled with the credit card transactions fees you pay. Typically, hotel payment processing fees on transactions range from about 0.7% to 3.5%, and that eats into profits. However, if this is not bad enough, many other "invisible" costs are involved with payments. And some of them are so well-hidden that it can take years for even the most savvy hoteliers to get a full grasp of the ecosystem tolls. Many hoteliers are overpaying their providers without even realizing it. But don't be fooled: when selecting a processor, only considering transaction fees is, at least, misleading, so if someone is undercharging you there, it's very likely they're adding a markup somewhere else. There are so many players interested when it comes to payments, so it's relatively easy to bury another fee or two here and there without the hotel even discovering it.   Payment: A Long Journey Whenever a transaction is made (online, in person, via phone/email, etc.), there are at least seven parties involved: The consumer: in hospitality, that's the guest. Usually, he's the cardholder or the person paying for the stay; The merchant: the business which is selling the services (or the products for the retail industry). In our case, that's the hotel; The gateway: the technology needed to connect the hotel to the payment processor. The payment processor: it enables the communication between the hotel, the credit card network, and the guest's bank; The credit card network: it's the guest's credit card brand (Visa, Amex, Mastercard, etc.); The issuing bank: the guest's bank making the payment; The acquiring bank: the hotel's bank receiving the payment. This means that, during each step of the payment, extra charges can be applied, sometimes indiscriminately. Here are some of the primary examples of additional costs: Buy rates: processors' costs associated with opening and maintaining the merchant's account. They are, basically, the acquiring bank's fees, made of the interchange + the acquiring bank's markup; Card issues charges: charges made by the card-issuing bank based on the type of the card and its location. For instance, EU-issued personal debit cards are capped to 0.2%, while credit cards to 0.3%. Business cards, on the other hand, are not capped. Booking.com's issuing bank, for example, charges an additional 2% for its virtual card. (Yup, if you do the math, receiving payment through BKG's card will cost you up to 1.8% more than a debit card...); Card scheme fees: fees charged typically by the card brands. Although not very high, they can vary and be very complex; Card tokenization charges: To charge a credit/debit card, a PMS should receive (usually from a partner, such as a channel manager or a booking engine) the number first, and then, tokenize it. Tokenization assures secure storage of credit card numbers and PCI compliance, so it's a crucial service. Here, however, is where systems tend to apply very different rates, and when hotels usually don't look. The payment gateway we use charges 0.05€ per tokenized card, but we've seen PMSs charging four/five times that amount. Moreover, some systems even apply "double tokenizations," meaning that they charge twice if a guest, for example, modifies his reservation on an OTA. Yes, a guest postponing the check-out date can cost you double what you already paid... Sure, a small property could not even notice it, but what if you're running a 100+ key hotel? Payment gateway fees: these are typically charged for initializing a transaction (it can be a payment, a refund, a preauthorization, collect/cancel of preauthorization, etc.). The cost can vary from gateway to gateway, and some systems may also add a markup. Wire Fee: some acquirers charge a fee every single time they send a settlement. If you, like ourselves, receive one a day, that can become quite expensive very quickly. Moreover, your bank may charge you an additional wire fee, making things even worse.   How to Save Money on Payments So, how can you avoid falling into this trap and overpaying for your transactions? Unless you have a complete understanding of how payments work at a higher level, it's challenging get the entire picture.  Start by asking the right questions to your provider. Don't settle with the "we offer the lowest transaction fees in the industry." That's just the marketing department talking, and it won't save you from all the "invisible" costs. Instead, download the latest invoice and start checking all the entries. You may not understand all of them, but at least you now know where to look.

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34 Free Hospitality eBooks You Can Download Right Now

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

The hospitality management and hotel management industry is extremely complex with many moving pieces.   Whether you work in the front office, food and beverage management, corporate sustainability, human resources or anywhere in between - you'll need to constantly stay up to date with the latest trends in this fast paced industry.  That's why Hotel Tech Report curated  this free ebook collection filled with case studies, tutorials, research and guidebooks.

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Accor’s Innovative Tech Strategy is the Key to Digital Transformation in Hospitality

by
Jordan Hollander
4 months ago

Hotel Tech Report recently sat down with Accor CTO Floor Bleeker for a behind the scenes look at how the hotel giant is out innovating the competition.  Accor is arguably the most disruptive large hotel chain in the world having recently unveiled a first of its kind multi-PMS strategy and also launching its own SPAC to invest in a hotel related businesses including technology. Back in March of 2019 Hotel Tech Report published a piece titled This is Why Hotel Brands Shouldn't Build Tech.  In that article, we made the case that hotel brands needed to rethink archaic tech strategies to adapt in a world of microservices, open APIs, cloud computing and cyber insecurity.  Back in the 90s, hotel companies built their own systems due to constraints of on-premise legacy systems but that playbook is no longer effective for modern hospitality brands. Accor has over 5,200 hotels in over 110 countries operating under more than 40 different brands.  So how does a company of that size and scale maintain a rapid pace of innovation?  In this interview we cover how Accor leverages a unique organizational structure to drive innovation, its technology investments and everything in between.  We’ll break down Accor’s approach to innovation to help guide other hotel chains, regional brands and even independents in how they should be thinking about hotel technology.

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50+ Hospitality Statistics You Should Know (2022)

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 months ago

Wondering just how big the hospitality industry is? Or curious to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic affected hotel employment, revenue, and occupancy? In this article, we’ll dig into over 50 shocking statistics about the accommodations industry tapping critical datasets such as the bureau of labor statistics, travel industry organizations like the AHLA and Statista. These stats touch on global trends, history, brands and independents, and even guest preferences and loyalty. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of employment in the hotel industry and booking trends too. By the end of this article, you’ll be a more knowledgeable hotelier with a pulse on the latest hotel industry news. Ready to dive in? Let’s go!

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What Does a Night Auditor Do in a Hotel?

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

If you’re considering a full time or part time night auditor job - or preparing to hire a night auditor - you’ve come to the right place. While many people are familiar with the job of a hotel front desk agent since it's during the day shift, the night auditor’s responsibilities aren’t as well known despite providing high paying entry-level positions at hotels. In this article, we’ll explain what a night auditor role entails, what skills will set you up for success as a night auditor, and offer advice for landing a night.

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Self Check-in Kiosks For Hotels: 2022 Hotel Kiosk Guide

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

Are you grappling with a tighter budget at your hotel, a staffing shortage, or changing guest preferences toward contactless options? The hospitality industry is more resource constrained than ever and you're not alone. It can be challenging to deliver a high standard of service when faced with constraints like reduced hotel staff due to rising labor costs. However, the guest experience doesn’t need to suffer if you have fewer employees or less face-to-face interaction. Self-service options like check-in kiosks can bring a slew of benefits to guests, employees, and hotel owners and managers. Everyone knows that first impressions determine the majority of our perceptions about brands and people - the check-in experience is no different and it's highly correlated with overall customer satisfaction. In this article, we’ll explain what a self check-in kiosk can do, how it plays into the contactless hotel trend, and we’ll show you how your hotel can achieve better guest satisfaction scores, higher profitability, and greater productivity by implementing self check-in kiosks.