As the demand for self-service technology continues to rise, hotels of all sizes can no longer delay automating parts of the guest experience. In particular, self-service kiosks allow hoteliers to provide key services without the need for human interaction while reducing operating costs, generating additional revenue and improving staff productivity. Even as the pandemic fades in the rearview mirror, the self-service-kiosk market is expected to grow and fuel the future of business.
With no self-service-kiosk data available in the Canadian marketplace, SCI Group Inc. (SCI) and Signifi Solutions Inc. (Signifi) commissioned a survey with Angus Reid in 2021. The companies surveyed more than 100 business decision-makers across a variety of industries to forecast the future of the market.
Although this movement had already begun pre-pandemic, the investment in self-service kiosks accelerated during the pandemic as businesses prioritized social distancing, contactless transactions and an intuitive user experience for both employees and customers. Half of respondents said their organization increased investment in self-service kiosks prior to the pandemic, with three-in-10 saying their investment level increased by more than 15 per cent since 2019.
Additionally, 77 per cent of organizations stated self-service kiosks to be important to their business in the next five years. The primary driver for businesses investing in the technology was employee and customer satisfaction, with 63 per cent identifying this as a top motivator.
“There’s a new appetite for automation and kiosk technologies, part of which may be attributed to the shift in user habits that has stemmed from the pandemic,” says Jamie McDowell, VP of Marketing at Signifi in a release. “More and more Canadian consumers and employees seem to appreciate the simplicity and interactivity provided by kiosk technologies. Organizations are seeing this shift and including kiosk technology in their digital transformation plans.”
In the hotel industry, the kiosk transformation is now well underway.
Benefits and Drawbacks
There are many creative ways to use hotel kiosks, so it’s important for hoteliers to think about what’s best for their brand and target audience(s). Some of the more practical tasks include facilitating check-in and check-out with room-key dispensers; providing information about nearby attractions, restaurants and amenities; and promoting hotel offerings or events while not in use by a guest. Additional services can include customer surveys, hotel trivia and photo-booth options.
“Kiosks can promote local attractions so guests knows what’s in close proximity to a hotel,” says Michael Cann, VP of Business Development, Smartek Systems. “Often times, hotels generate more revenue from these promotions [through bundling and referral fees
Furthermore, self-service kiosks are eco-friendly, eliminating the need for paper maps and brochures, and can incorporate accessibility features such as screen shrinking for wheelchair access, audio instructions with volume control and specialized keyboard options.
Overall, self-service kiosks reduce wait times and allows guests to address their needs quickly. On the hotel side, properties can make up for staff shortages and ensure existing staff are spending time on more complex tasks, collect more data for better marketing campaigns and personalized experiences and implement an effective upselling strategy for room upgrades, spa visits, breakfast buffets and more.
The most obvious disadvantage of using a self-service kiosk is it can be confusing for guests who aren’t familiar with the technology, requiring a staff member to provide additional support. However, the majority of guests seem to be accepting of this digital advancement.
In most cases, glitches with the kiosk itself can be fixed by a supplier’s technical-support team. “We have an internal monitoring system so if any unit glitches, turns off or disconnects from the Internet, our technicians get notified and contact the hotel,” says Joe Yosufzai, Chief Technology Officer, Smartek Systems. “If the issue can’t be fixed on the phone, a technician will arrive on site.”
Merlin Entertainments operates 140 attractions, 23 hotels and six holiday villages in 24 countries and is using Oracle MICROS Simphony Point-of-Sale (POS) and Oracle Hospitality OPERA Porperty Management technology. With these solutions, Merlin guests can take advantage of mobile check-in at hotels and pre-order food at various attractions.
“The attractions are always the stars, but today there is more demand for people’s attention, so we really need to stand out from the crowd,” says Lee Cowie, Chief Technology Officer at Merlin Entertainments. “We do that by constantly innovating, delivering new experiences, and creating new reasons for guests to come back. Oracle offers a strong, reliable, and well-thought-out suite of technologies that help us accomplish these goals.”
The global interactive and self-service kiosk market size was valued at USD $28.45 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.1 per cent during the forecast period from 2023 to 2030, according to a market research study published by Contrive Datum Insights. North America followed by Europe are likely to have the biggest share of the market, but the Asia-Pacific is expected to grow the fastest during the time frame of the forecast.
“The pandemic drove more people to use kiosks, which increased their comfort level with the technology and is leading to even better user-centric design for the next generation of devices,” says Peter Collier, VP of Technology, SCI Group in a release. “We expect that increasing user comfort with kiosks and ongoing design improvements by kiosk manufacturers will continue to drive adoption.”
BY NICOLE DI TOMASSO