Many hotels have chosen to partly, or entirely, go virtual with their front desk services. However, many hotels still decide to have reception staff on hand to help with checking in and out, questions and assistance. Is this necessary?
By outsourcing reception responsibilities and implementing virtual front desk systems, hotels and guests can streamline their processes, meaning cost savings, quicker check-in and response time, and a cleaner, more touch-free environment.
With the ongoing battle to be digital-first across all industries, full automation of many processes is inevitable. This article will dive into what automation and virtual solutions look like in a hotel setting and provide insight into the benefits of this technological step forward.
What Are Hotel Automation and Virtual Front Desks?
Hotel front desk automation is a process of streamlining many functions in the hotel hospitality industry. Primarily, the check-in process is made fully digital – clients can check in themselves using an online platform, usually before traveling to the hotel, and, upon arrival, can access their information and have their room key printed without needing a physical person.
Many hotel automation services offer an app through which guests can manage their booking, as well as their interactions and requests throughout their stay. All of these are fed through the automated system and processed digitally.
While some companies simply offer a computer interface, there are some, like Aavgo, who are taking it a step further and offering a ‘human-assisted virtual front desk,’ which sees guests able to interact with a human through the powers of technology.
Across the United States, many hotels are trialing the automated or virtual front desk systems. These systems enable guests to speak to a live assistant by phone, chat, or text, meaning that trickier inquiries can be dealt with swiftly.
What Are The Benefits of Front Desk Automation or Virtual Front Desks?
There are numerous benefits for both the hotel and the guest when using virtual front desks and automation. While face-to-face interaction can’t currently be replaced with the same intimacy, although augmented reality could soon make this a reality, some of the benefits include:
- Offering more flexibility in terms of check-in time. For example, clients who need to arrive very late at night
- No reliance on staff members to be on shift. Or, for a virtual desk, easier to manage rotas when assistants can work in different time zones
- While the initial set-up fee can be more costly than hiring a member of staff, long-term cost savings outweigh this
- It works not only for the front desk but with managing housekeeping and room service requests too
How Are The Virtual Assistants Managed?
Many companies that provide this service outsource daily management to places such as the Philippines. There are many BPO companies across Asia and South Africa that have highly trained staff ready to offer high-level service, just remotely.
Conclusion: Will Hotels Go Fully Virtual?
With the global pandemic having changed many business processes forever, the hotel front desk is one that can be made fully digital. With cost savings as a huge benefit, it’s only a matter of time before more and more hotels choose this solution.