Hotel Self-Service Technology: Adopting Contactless Solutions at Your Hotel

Evolving guest expectations and the gradual merging of the STR and hotel industries, mean you need to adopt solutions that give your guests more independence.

But how can you provide guests with the autonomy and contactless experiences they’re looking for without investing thousands in renovations and upgrades?

Hotel self-service technology lets you provide a more automated, flexible, and enjoyable guest experience. It can also help you optimize your operations, minimize your staffing needs, and protect your profit margins. 


In this article, we explain what hotel self-service technology actually looks like in practice, how you can implement it, and the benefits you’ll enjoy by adopting these solutions.

More independence for guests, less stress on staff. 

Discover what Operto’s self-service technology solutions can do for your hotel.

What is self-service technology for hotels?

Hotel self-service technology consists of tools that allow guests to experience key aspects of their customer journey, like check-in and concierge requests, independently and on their own terms. Self-service technology tools, like keyless entry options and check-in kiosks, give guests more autonomy over their stay. 


The benefits of using hotel self-service technology are widespread, ranging from the opportunity to reduce your team’s workload to the ability to create a better guest experience. But it’s important to be aware that these tools also have their limitations, which we cover below. 


Trends in the hotel self-service tech

When we spoke with Roomza founder and Operto partner Curtis Crimmins in a recent case study, he outlined the fact that “hospitality agents spend 90% of their time doing things that a computer should do, but can’t because the industry hasn’t innovated yet.”


But self-service tech has made its appearance in the hotel industry, and it’s here to stay. In our State Of Tech-Enabled Stays From 2021-2023 report, we found that 76% of respondents who still have front desk employees plan on significantly reducing staff within the next year, a quarter of whom plan to “completely replace their front desk with technology”. 


But implementing hotel self-service tech isn’t just about staying on top of industry trends—crucially, it helps you ease the workload for your staff. 


Says John Ryan, owner and managing director of the Ardilaun Hotel in Galway, Ireland, “If you use the right tech solutions, missing a member of your staff doesn’t have to negatively impact your operations, as software can help handle some of that workload.”


And anywhere you can reduce your workload is a benefit in and of itself—doing so boosts team morale, makes you a more considerate employer, and helps improve performance in a way both staff and guests will notice. 


The modern guest journey is trending towards autonomous and contactless, and over a third of our survey respondents stated that their guests are coming to expect automated and keyless check-in.

Bar chart ranking the relevance of different hotel self-service technologies for the near future
Contactless check-in and keyless entry are expected to be the most important pieces of hotel self-service technology in the coming years.

Types of self-service technology used in the hotel guest journey 

There are many points along the hotel guest journey where you can implement self-service tech, from check-in to check-out. Common examples include: 


  • Contactless check-in: Make it possible for guests to check in online using a self-service kiosk or via a branded guest app. 
  • Mobile key access: No more waiting in line at the front desk to pick up a key card. Give your guests mobile key access via a convenient guest app. 
  • Contactless check-out: Just like when they arrive, guests should be able to check out via virtual reception software or a convenient guest app. 
  • Lost and found: Operto Teams integrates with BOUNTE, a lost and found software solution that makes it easy for guests to track down and receive their misplaced items.
  • Virtual room service: No need to call the front desk to order breakfast in bed. Enable guests to order room service right on their mobile device. 
  • Digital concierge services: Give your guests curated recommendations using hotel guest experience software like Operto Guest.

Potential challenges of implementing self-service technology at your hotel

As with any innovation, hotel self-service technology is occasionally met with some resistance. To begin, some guests prefer a traditional hotel experience, with face-to-face interactions and physical room keycards. 


But if you upgrade your existing locks to smart locks with Operto Boost, your locks maintain their RFID and magstripe capabilities, meaning you can accommodate every guest’s preferences. 


Another area where self-service tech can cause issues is self-check-in kiosks. They don’t eliminate the problem of lines forming in your lobby, and they can be clunky to operate (think malfunctioning touchscreens and unclear instructions).


So use the best kiosks in the world—the ones we already have in our pockets. Smartphones are fast and easy for guests, and you won’t need to install any big equipment in your lobby. Plus, you can use a web app like Operto Guest to make the arrival process intuitive and flexible.


Finally, you may have concerns about a lack of visibility if your guests can check in online and independently access their rooms. 


The fact is, though, an integrated access system increases your visibility with real-time and historical reporting throughout your hotel. 


How we help hotels enable self-service tech here at Operto

“We believe the hospitality industry can and will be a tech-forward sector, and we stand behind the idea that keyless does not have to mean faceless, awkward, or cold.” These are the words of Operto CEO, Steve Davis, on the matter of tech-enabled stays. 


Our tools give guests autonomy and flexibility at every step of their journey, from before they check in to the moment they leave your hotel. 


And upgrading your locks with Operto Boost is an affordable way to become tech-enabled, as instead of replacing your old locks, you simply insert the Boost Smart Chip to immediately give them Bluetooth connectivity.


With Operto’s guest experience solution in place, guests automatically receive access to a branded web app and digital guidebook when they book. 


This provides essential information about their stay, your amenities, and local area recommendations.


And, when their security deposit and verification details are confirmed as part of their self check-in within the web app, your guests’ access details are activated according to their scheduled check-in time. 


So, with upgraded locks, independent access, and a digital guidebook, your guests have autonomy from pre-arrival to check-out. 

Screenshot of the Operto Guest app screen showing guest verification
Operto Guest lets guests verify their identity right on their smartphones, allowing them to check in without having to wait in long front desk lines.

5 major benefits of using hotel self-service technology 

See how your hotel can benefit from providing guests with self-service and contactless experiences. 


Bigger savings

Contactless technology for hotels can have a significant impact on your bottom line, as these powerful solutions significantly reduce your staffing needs. Take Prague Residencies, for example: This accommodation provider started saving $10,000 per month after adopting Operto solutions. 


But optimizing your staffing doesn’t mean guests miss out on the care and attention of your team. In fact, the exact opposite is true. 


Personalized, attentive stays

When your employees aren’t bogged down checking guests in and answering the phone at the front desk, they have more time to focus on making a tangible impact on the guest journey. By freeing your hotel staff up from transactional tasks, you create more room in the day for meaningful interactions with your guests. 


Whether that’s a member of your team greeting guests in the lobby and offering them a welcome drink, or facilitating special requests like flowers in the room on arrival, hotel self-service technology gives your staff the chance to get to know your guests and add value to their stay. 


A more comfortable, autonomous guest journey

As we’ve mentioned, contactless solutions enhance satisfaction by giving guests a more independent stay. 


The consolidation of the STR and hotel industries, or the Great Merging, has shown us that guests increasingly want flexibility and control. This means they seek out no-touch experiences, like digital check-in and mobile access. 


Curtis points out that “to a lot of people, the front desk is just a nuisance.” So by eliminating traditional friction points, like long lines in the lobby, self-service tech gives your guests the comfort they expect from a modern stay. 


Smoother operations

Contactless solutions aren’t just good for your profitability and guests: They also optimize hotel operations. And, since self-service tech means you don’t need a fully staffed hotel lobby, you can immediately begin reimagining your front desk. 


Meanwhile, more support from self-check-in and contactless access solutions means less stress for your employees and less staff turnover. 


Plus, managers get a clear view of performance and how they can best meet guest expectations.

Screenshot of the Operto Manager Dashboard
Stay on top of who’s coming in and out of your hotel with Operto.

Better insights into staff performance and productivity

When you pair your contactless solutions with the right hotel management system, you can get a better look at where your staff is excelling and where performance is falling behind. 


For example, Operto Teams allows you to compile detailed reports on staff productivity and segment data by teams and individual employees.  


Self-service technology: The future of hotels

What was once an emerging trend is now becoming an industry standard. The advantages of self-service technology are impossible to ignore, and these solutions are now a necessity for hotels looking to operate sustainably and be competitive. 


The only remaining question is which solutions you choose to adopt. With Operto Boost, you get quick, easy access to a suite of solutions to help you work better and improve the guest experience with every stay.

More independence for guests, less stress on staff. 

Discover what Operto’s self-service technology solutions can do for your hotel.