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TECHNOLOGY

Automation needed to better efficiency and efficacy of hotel sector
Saturday, 25 May, 2019, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Yogesh Singh
Automation is undoubtedly the key term defining and shaping a positive sweep in terms of modernisation; leading to ease and comfort in delivering services and facilities to the customer; and thereby revolutionising and transforming the overall approach of the hospitality industry. It has led to the ineffable improvement in facilitating services to the customer; bettering the efficiency and efficacy of the hotel sector. Automation has raised the expectation of the guest to a gigantic extent and this has built a pressure on the hospitality sector to sustain such expectations and demands without any degradation in quality.

Automation
Automation can be defined as the act of implementing the control of equipment with advanced technology; usually involving electronic hardware ensuring automatic control or operation. Incorporation of automation has invariably been a centre of attraction for customer adding a touch of freshness to their experience; when they avail or come in contact with such new addition of automated development or technological advancement in their services.

Impact of Automation
Automation has incorporated itself in varied ways in the hospitality sector and has become an inseparable part of the industry. In simple words, it can be said without exaggeration that hotels are with the intention to make human-free experience and create a Unique Selling Point (USP) by installing various multiple integrated automated systems. Nowadays, self-service kiosks have been created in lobby of the hotel which has enabled guest customer to do check-in and out of their own during the stay. This comfort has enabled guest to create their own room keys by feeding their reservation number or self-name with date of reservation. Guest can even check-in with the help of debit card or credit card used during reservation. Guest is having the option to access even in-room services, book their leisure and food facilities; without consulting any hotel staff. Guests are charmed and delighted to experience such automation and that too with great sense of success and satisfaction. Comfort Xpress Hotel in Norway is one such hotel with such application and that too with story of success.

Moving forward to this segment, one renowned hotel, Hotel Calma in Spain has issued an iButtons (electronic keys) to guests to let them have access to their room. iButtons are loaded with many facilities to make a reality like guest can curate it according to their preference; and facilities provided are as modification of climate control, personalisation of light and window screens and so on. All this process is without fuss and operates in a well-structured manner due to enormously streamlined personalisation and planning.

Japan has exceeded one step forward in the world of automation and Hotel Henn-na of it has robots in place of staff to perform certain tasks. Guests are greeted and welcomed by actoid androids and such robotic machinery even appear and resemble like humans. But the hostess welcoming guest with humble bow and greetings is entirely out of the system in this scenario.  The luggage of the guest is carried by automated motorised trolley and cleaning of their room is done by robots. This experimentation has made the operation very efficient in terms of customer service. In coming years, this particular hotel has the target to perform around 90% of their job with the help of robot, eliminating human incorporation.

This will save labour cost and hotel automated concept would be an attraction to guest to avail services of this hotel. This in long run would lead to unemployment for budding hoteliers in near future.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also a newer concept of automation and has reduced the chances of manual error in a very effective manner. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality (VR) are impacting the office task as an office expert analytics. Robotics has distinct way of functioning in record keeping and such task; which is far better than manual approach.

Thus, automation has its root in all departments of hotel be it front office department, house-keeping department, room service section, accounts section, or any other department. Automation has proved its worth by transforming inefficient processes into most simplified process in desired time duration. Quality of result outnumbers all. The record-keeping has become paperless; thereby saving environment and making our world more safe and secure; combating global effects. The records are searched with great comfort and ease with speed as well.

Hotels have made automatic approach a tool and by this tool they have made it a reality to guest that he/she can monitor and control the light intensity inside the room, temperature modification and even water control by their room key card. This again has helped us in saving the earth resources, for which there is a huge cry all across.

Future Expectations
In coming few months or may be a year, one may come across a smart mirror which would display news headlines, weather information and such details of worth. Such details would be accessed even while brushing teeth in morning. Hotels may have certain room with smart floor concept and one German company, Future Shape has been working to create sensor monitored floor which would be helpful when elderly people are alone in room and have chances of falling down. Such smart floor rooms would be given to such guest.

Conclusion
Automation in hotel would be stated like automation is a key term which is mushrooming with tremendous growth in Indian hospitality industry and has come up with new concept and is considered as the need of the hour. Automation in hospitality industry is existing from last three decades and is blossoming by and large with huge impact. Difficult to say, but this automation has lessened the human interaction and the humbleness of its touch, which has undisputedly altered the style of service and the manner of experiencing it.

So, guest has many overwhelming and mesmerising experiences to still come to their way which would be bestowed by the blessings and inventions in automation segment in hospitality segment.
To install automation is just a matter of great investment but to sustain and let it survive in the hospitality industry is a great challenge. This challenge is so vigorous that it may restrict few hoteliers to get this transformation done as India is still developing to such innovative concepts and a big lot of Indian population is not accustomed to such change with easy acceptability. But, coming years would welcome and experience automation in hospitality industry with open heart and outcome would certainly be impactful.

(The author is senior faculty in culinary arts at Institute of Hotel Management, Kurukshetra.)
 
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