7 Benefits of Utilizing a Self-Service Kiosk in the Hospitality Industry

In a world where providing convenient experiences for customers matters the most, kiosks have become commonplace in restaurants, retail stores, airports, healthcare, and now, at hotels. The hospitality industry has always been about luxury, pleasure, and excellent customer service, so it is to no surprise that many hoteliers have installed self-service check-in kiosks to offer guests additional flexibility and convenience during their hotel stay. Guests want to be delighted by personalized experiences, and when that happens, they are likely to come back for more stays.

Self-service check-in and check-out kiosks are automated software or digital touch kiosks that guests use to complete tasks themselves instead of relying on hotel front desk staff. Hotel kiosks are designed to be a turn-key solution that help provide a modern extension or alternative to the traditional front desk service experience.

Better Use of Hotel Resources

To offer the best service possible to guests, hoteliers should make optimal use of their resources. When integrated with a property’s PMS (Property Management System), a self-service kiosk can transform the standard and traditional service that can be offered to your guests.

Automating the check-in and out process gives your staff freedom to have more meaningful and personal conversations with guests. This could include providing advice to a guest as they head out, tending to an urgent issue, or simply taking the time to engage and chat with your guests through friendly conversation. These small interactions allow your hotel employees to offer a differentiated experience from your competitors and build meaningful rapport with guests.

Faster Check-in and Out Experiences

Guests want convenient experiences from the time they first enter your hotel, to the time they leave. The first impression starts in the hotel lobby, and long wait times to check-in and out can have detrimental effects on a guest’s opinion of your hotel. Being on-time while traveling is important- and a long wait time can affect the guest’s agenda and timeline for the rest of the day.

A recent survey of 397 adults, uncovered that speed of delivery was the most influential factor in terms of impact on customer satisfaction with self-service kiosks.

During a traditional check-in process, guests must stand in line to speak with a receptionist, often this includes filling out paperwork and reiterating information already supplied during the booking. With a self-service kiosk, guests can skip the check-in line by simply looking up their name, email, booking number or by scanning their government issued ID. This drastically improves front-desk lobby wait times and queues.

More Personalized Guest Experiences

Self-Service kiosks can gather useful data about guest and their stay history such as previous purchases, room preferences, and other special requests. If the kiosk is properly integrated with that hotel’s PMS (property management system), this offers you an opportunity to access this data quickly and deliver a more personalized experience.

Opportunities to Generate More Revenue

Self-service solutions can increase up-sell opportunities. With a robust and “Smart” self-service kiosk, guests can upgrade their room, redeem special offers, and purchase additional services such as continental breakfast or room service, all in an effortless way. Many people do not respond well to being sold things face-to-face, so adding additional services with a click of a button, appeals to this audience and can contribute to additional revenue for your hotel that does not require extra labor expenses.

Minimizes Human Error

Unfortunately, errors with hotel bookings can be a common occurrence. Regrettably, the names of guests are often misspelled, or the wrong room type is selected by accident. No matter how trained a staff member is, humans make mistakes, especially when they are busy juggling multiple tasks at once.

By cutting out the middleman when it comes time for a guest to register their stay and automating the check-in process, you can avoid common errors and improve the way you engage with customers. Self-service kiosks record customer data accurately because the guests themselves input the information while registering, then checking in. Therefore, opportunities for mistakes are greatly minimized.

More Freedom and Convenience for Guests – A Better Experience

Hotel customers appreciate different options to cater to their personal needs. Some people prefer to deal directly with hotel staff, and others prefer to handle check-in and out on their own. Regardless of their preference, offering a self-service kiosk enhances the guest’s freedom and offers them a level of control that will surely give off a good impression and improve satisfaction. Self-service kiosks empower your guests by providing them with a range of flexible options they can access at their fingertips.

Contactless Check-In

With the current state of the world, safety and sanitation is of paramount importance for travelers and employees in your hotel. This is another reason why contactless service are growing in value. By reducing the time it takes for guests to check-in and out, and keeping interactions to a minimum, you can reduce foot traffic, eliminate heavily populated front lobbies, and promote an environment where social distancing is possible.

Conclusion

A recent study showed that 72% of 33–44-year old’s were most likely to use a self-service kiosk. When weighing the potential benefits, 61% cited faster service, 59% shorter lines, 58% privacy, 50% greater control, and 38% no interaction with personnel.

It’s evident that self-service kiosks provide a broad range of advantages to hotels, employees, and guests. A frictionless check-in and out experience means more convenience, more control and elimination of frustrating lines.

NEC’s Smart Check-In Kiosk

NEC’s Smart Check-In for Hospitality solution provides an easy-to-use, automated, self-service interface that walks a guest through pre-registration and check-in/check-out process. This self-service application enables a guest to walk up to a kiosk, verify their identity through facial recognition or customized QR code and Government issued ID authentication, pull up their reservation information, add on additional hotel services, add a payment option, receive their room assignment, and print out their room key.

When a guest is ready to check out, this same self-service software enables them to simply enter their room number and check in date, review their bill, and request either a printed receipt or have it conveniently emailed to them.

NEC’s Smart Check-In interface is fully customizable with your property’s logo and images along with multiple language selections. The software seamlessly integrates with Property Management Systems (PMS) to immediately alert staff when a room has been assigned and when the guest has officially checked out.

With the utilization of NEC’s UNIVERGE Integration Platform (UIP), the Smart Check-Infor Hospitality solution can seamlessly interconnect with your back-office systems to function as one complete end-to-end solution. UIP can connect any application/data source and enables comprehensive Application Programming Interface (API) management.

Whether checking in for business or pleasure, you want to make the guest’s experience pleasant and frictionless, from the time they walk in the door until the time they walk out. With NEC’s Smart Check-In software solution, you can streamline the check-in and out process, improving guest satisfaction and brand loyalty.

To learn more about NEC’s Smart Check-In for Hospitality, visit www.necam.com/SmartWorkspace/SmartCheckIn/.

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Digital ID is Taking Travel to New Heights

As digital coupons and receipts are replacing typical “wallet clutter,” Digital IDs are replacing the way people validate their identity.

Many travelers are already opting-in to the use of Digital IDs to speed their way through bag check, security verification and boarding processes. When a Digital ID is created, travelers can select trip-specific choices that expire when the trip is complete – just like digital boarding passes. If the traveler consents to use the Digital ID for transactions like retail or hospitality, those authorizations will remain active in their profile until the traveler chooses to disable it. The Digital ID is entirely under the owner’s control at all times.

The NEC Aviation team has created an eBook that explains the digital transformation taking place in commercial air travel using a Digital ID.

Below is a three-page preview of our eBook. Click here to learn more or fill out the form below to download the entire eBook.

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The Post-COVID Future of Quick Service and Fast Casual Restaurants

As we start to think about life in a post-COVID world, one of the main questions is what part of our revamped lifestyles are here to stay? Financial crises, natural disasters, and societal developments always lead to innovation and transformation, and COVID-19 is no different. Among the trends that will be long-lasting is the shift away from touch-based interactions toward touchless ones. We believe that the future is touchless everything.

In the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) industry, touchless everything means the whole experience from ordering, menus, payment, drive-thru and pickup. As dining in has been limited, the demand for drive-thru and pickup has increased exponentially. Increased demand, though, has its downsides. Long lines mean poor customer experience and lost sales opportunities as drivers may be deterred from waiting.

In fact, according to one study, the use of digital menu boards, which shaves off 12.3 seconds of throughput, can result in nearly $28,000 in savings per location, equating to hundreds of millions of dollars for large QSRs. The reverse is true in an industry that saw wait times increase by nearly 30 seconds across the board. This means that digital innovation is key to removing friction from the ordering, payment, and pickup interactions so brands can serve more customers, faster and safer.

In addition to digital menus, the use of mobile technologies paired with biometrics provide other opportunities for improved customer experiences. For example, with facial recognition, a guest may simply drive-up to the digital menu and be automatically identified to gain access to personalized special offers, recall a previous order, redeem loyalty rewards and make a payment. This saves time and gives the customer the type of experience that drives incremental sales and creates strong brand loyalty.

Creating Wow Experiences with Facial Recognition

The NEC I:Delight platform is specially designed to create these wow experiences. Adding the I:Delight platform to new or existing apps is simple. Users can easily register by taking a quick selfie for their online profile to create a Digital ID. Once registered, they can simply log-in to the mobile app with their face, or in store at a kiosk, to place an order and approve payment using their secure Digital ID. If a guest is picking up their order in-person, a simple glance at a tablet can alert staff that they have arrived to ensure they receive their order quickly and safely.

Drive-Thru Ordering and Payment

The NEC I:Delight platform can also be incorporated at the drive-thru for enhanced, personalized service and operational efficiency. When a customer pulls-up to the drive-thru, the platform recognizes their Digital ID and alerts staff to the customer’s arrival. Stored preferences and targeted promotions appear on the digital menu screen, and staff can greet the customer by name. If a payment method is saved in the customer’s loyalty account, face verification or a saved PIN is all that is needed to complete the transaction.

According to a recent study commissioned by the Kellogg School of Management, Columbia Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School, every 7 seconds saved in drive-thru wait times equates to about 1 percent increase in sales. This makes both the customer experience and business value benefit of the NEC I:Delight platform hard to overstate:

  • Increases throughput of customers with a more personalized experience.
  • Easily monitors customer purchasing behaviors to better anticipate customer needs and offer targeted promotions.
  • Brings up pre-order or previous order for faster transactions times, minimizing the time for order customizations.
  • Offers seamless, contactless payments for a faster and safer experience.

NEC is a trusted leader in facial recognition, ranked number one in biometric innovation by NIST for five consecutive years. With over 1,000 deployments in 70 countries around the world and $2.6 billion invested annually in research and development, NEC is the preferred partner for fast-casual restaurants looking for facial recognition-enabled solutions for an enhanced customer experience.

Below is a three-page preview of our eBook. Click here to lean more about our touchless solutions or complete the form below to download the entire eBook.

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Learn how NEC can transform your customer experience.

Partner Success Story: How Folkerson Communications was able to solve customer’s challenges with UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES

Introducing UNIVERGE BLUE® Early Adopters Series – NEC Corporation of America (NEC) honors Channel Partners who were early adopters of UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES and are improving customer care, employee engagement, and business operations. Hear the stories of why our early adopters chose the UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program and why partners recommend UNIVERGE BLUE for their customers.

The Background

From the time founder Greg Folkerson began his career as technical writer in 1976, Folkerson Communications was built around providing exemplary service in all facets of communications to customers in the Central Texas and Austin area. Greg’s commitment to customer service and employee training has positioned Folkerson as an industry leader.

The company offers 5 key services — Phone/VoIP, Carrier Services, Network Solutions, Structured Cabling and 24/7 Customer Service — and handles everything from purchasing and deployment to networking and troubleshooting.

Folkerson Communications became an authorized NEC Channel partner almost 25 years ago, and for several decades that meant providing clients with NEC’s on-premises communication servers and IT technology. Around 2015, Folkerson responded to a growing demand for VoIP and non-traditional communications technology.

I recently met with Greg Folkerson to discuss the partnership with NEC and his experience being an early adopter of the New Generation UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES.

The Challenge

As cloud and hosted solutions grew in popularity, Folkerson knew that it needed a rock-solid cloud solution that would provide the reliable and dependable services that his clients had come to associate with Folkerson. Before UNIVERGE BLUE, Folkerson tried other cloud vendors, but finding a highly reliable solution that met Folkerson’s stringent standards, and one that allowed them to own their customer relationships, proved to be nearly impossible. NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Customer Ownership Partner Model was unique in allowing Folkerson to maintain full ownership of billing, bundling, adding services, and supporting a customer’s environment — preserving the customer confidence upon which Folkerson has built its reputation.

Greg Folkerson explains some of the challenges he faced with other cloud providers, “The industry is changing. There are now non-interconnect companies selling voice services, and many of these vendors do not understand that for most of Folkerson Communications existence we were a traditional interconnect company – we have technicians, we roll trucks, we train customers – and we built a reputation around providing this type of hands-on customer service. While selling cloud services has immensely simplified the programming and implementation, the need for human-like customer service has not gone away, and that is what our customers expect from us. NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program has been great for us because it allows us to own our customer relationships, and NEC is always there to provide significant sales, marketing, and service support. NEC always answers our questions and is always there when we need them.”

Greg continues, “Our customers trust us and the relationship we have built with them over the years. It was imperative that we offer a reliable and dependable solution that meets our customers’ needs and one that reinforces our reputation of providing exceptional customer support.”

The Solution

Now Folkerson Communications sells UNIVERGE BLUE® CONNECT – NEC’s Unified Communications As A Service (UCaaS) solution and UNIVERGE BLUE® ENGAGE – NEC’s Contact Center As A Service (CCaaS) solution. Unlike other providers, UNIVERGE BLUE has allowed Folkerson to maintain their customer relationships and expand their service offerings into existing and new areas of their customers’ businesses.

While customers certainly enjoy ENGAGE’s full-featured contact center (CCaaS) capabilities and CONNECT’s (UCaaS) features, which includes a full-featured phone system, video/web conferencing, team chat, file sharing & backup — Greg says the flexibility and simplicity that UNIVERGE BLUE provides is key. “Many of our customers found it challenging to manage the complexities associated with maintaining a phone system in multiple locations – with UNIVERGE BLUE, we were able to solve these challenges by offering our customers a centralized, fully managed, and scalable phone system hosted in the cloud.”

Greg continues, “UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT has reduced complexity for our customers, minimized telecom costs, improved communication and collaboration, and even enabled remote work environments, which would have been difficult to do with a hardware-based solution.”

On Folkerson’s end, the UNIVERGE BLUE Administrative Portal has allowed Folkerson to easily monitor and troubleshoot customers’ voice services and contact center features. Greg was able to retrain his existing staff to handle UNIVERGE BLUE UCaaS and CCaaS implementations.

“Because of the competitive solutions UNIVERGE BLUE offers, the great sales, marketing and service support NEC provides coupled with the ability to set our own margins, we are able to focus more on selling and building relationships with our customers and less on other ancillary activities often associated with hardware that cut into our profits. The margins with BLUE are very attractive, and it didn’t take long to adjust to a monthly recurring revenue model.” Folkerson explains.

The Result

Folkerson Communications is now an exclusive NEC dealer, “Becoming an exclusive NEC dealer was a no-brainer decision based on the success we have seen with NEC’s hardware solutions and now with the business growth we are seeing with UNIVERGE BLUE CLOUD SERVICES.”

Folkerson Communications is embracing a new role – a complete cloud technology provider who offers end-to-end cloud solutions, committed to being a trusted advisor, adding value across every customers’ lifecycle. Greg notes, “The UNIVERGE BLUE Cloud partnership has allowed us to keep pace with the external marketplace and everchanging demands of our customers. We are starting to see significant growth in our cloud-business and do not see it slowing down any time soon.”

NEC and Folkerson will continue to partner together to provide solutions to customers’ unique needs. The future of Folkerson’s business includes a combination of both cloud-based and on-premises solutions, creating a hybrid IT and UC portfolio that balances the scalability and flexibility associated with cloud and the security associated with hardware. NEC will continue to be an integral part of what Folkerson does in the IT and Communications space.

NEC is committed to providing Channel Partners the opportunity to expand their offerings with customers and profit from delivering cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions. If you are a technology provider who is interested in partnering with a market leader who helps build on capabilities to drive sustainable and profitable growth, reach out to an NEC representative today or visit www.univergeblue.com/partners.

For any questions about the program or to meet with a UNIVERGE BLUE Partner Program Representative, submit your information and we will get back to you shortly.

NEC Welcomes Mike Lesko as Sr. Director of Government Technology & Services

Mike brings with him a diverse and prestigious work history and background within the public safety industry space, including service on numerous national policy boards, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Advisory Policy Board (APB), the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Council as well as SEARCH, the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics.

Mike LeskoNECAM is proud to announce that Mike Lesko has joined our team as Senior Director of Government Technology and Services. Mike comes to us from the Texas Department of Public Safety, where he served as Division Director, overseeing the Law Enforcement Support Division (LESD).

His familiarity with NEC is unmatched. He has served as Chair of the AFIS Internet Board (recently renamed to International Biometrics Association—an annual conference of NEC AFIS/MBIS users), as well as being well known among our user community. We are excited to share that his role within NEC will concentrate on three strategic objectives:

  1. Strengthening our public safety and law enforcement product roadmap
  2. Enhancing ARS’ strategic direction of extending our services beyond identification bureaus.
  3. Representing NEC in key national and Federal policy boards.

Mike and his family live in Austin, Texas, where he enjoys cooking Texas barbeque, the occasional round of golf, and cheering on the Texas Longhorns.

Join us in welcoming Mike Lesko to the NEC team!