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Automation Age: The Smart Tech Transforming the Hospitality Sector

The hospitality industry is fast-paced and often highly stressful. But meeting customer expectations, maintaining supplier relationships and remaining profitable is made easier through automation. The automation of processes throughout your hospitality business can help you save money and increase efficiency, even in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the coronavirus pandemic has likely accelerated the adoption of automation in the hospitality industry.

Checking and compliance 

Smart technology allows a lot of mundane tasks associated with compliance issues to be automated. Examples include checking the temperature of fridges, ensuring that waste bins are not overfilled, listening to fire alarm tests, and looking at the flow of guests through common areas to inform cleaning rotas.

Other repetitive tasks also present opportunities for automation, including loading and unloading dishwashers, slicing vegetables in preparation for food service, carrying food and drinks from the kitchen to a table, lifting crates and putting products into storage.

Resourceful automation

In an age of potentially fewer staff working with the same number of guests and rooms, hospitality venue owners can seek to improve productivity through technology that is simple to deploy and acts to reduce the workload quickly. By leveraging workflow automation for specific business tasks, hospitality businesses are freeing up employees’ time to focus on their customers.

Investing in innovative technology can also help an industry with a typically high staff turnover to successfully manage and retain frontline workers.

Proactive and predictive maintenance

Smart automation allows business owners to be proactive by ensuring that key equipment such as air conditioners are not rattling or misfiring. Maintenance can be carried out on a proactive basis and staff know ahead of time the problem they are going to fix.

Take for example some work we did with a 5-star hotel. In one of the hotel’s quiet reception rooms, the air conditioner sounded like a jumbo jet taking off. No one noticed it until a guest complained, and no one had checked the maintenance of the unit, which was mechanically unsound. A smart sensor would have picked this up and alerted the management team before it compromised the guest experience.

Social distancing by default 

Automating functions that were previously done in-person allows hospitality businesses to enforce social distancing, reduce human interaction and minimise contact between guests and hotel staff.

Examples include:

  • Using robots to provide meals to guests
  • Auto-deployed sanitation, such as bots that kill bacteria using ultraviolet light
  • Using contactless technology (such as mobile apps and digital keys) to enable guests to check in and out
  • Smart temperature checking cameras for automated access control, based on an individual’s temperature and/or facial recognition
  • Allowing customers to place orders on an app rather than with bar and waiting staff

In the fast food sector, McDonald’s has already installed automated servers that allow customers to place their order on a touchscreen rather than through a customer-service assistant.

These technologies not only promote social distancing, but can also enhance the customer experience by making processes faster and more seamless. Promoting automation may also boost consumer confidence, as hotels and accommodation providers strive to prove that they are clean and safe in a COVID-conscious age.

And the stats also speak for themselves. According to Oracle’s 2019 Hospitality Benchmark Report, 90% of respondents stated that the guest experience could be improved using smartphones to manage basic services such as booking a room and managing the check-in/ check-out process.

As the hospitality industry adapts to new working practices brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and technology advancements, smart automation is coming to the forefront as leaders in the industry become increasingly aware of its potential and profitability.