Touchless Interface in Hospitality Industry

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Touchless Interface in Hospitality Industry

Touchless user interface (often abbreviated as TUI) is a developing form of technology with regard to gesture control. TUI is the procedure of sending commands to the computer system through gestures and body motion without necessarily touching its screen, mouse or keyboard (Lafkas, 2013, p. 5). Even though the initial applications of TUI were for entertainment functions (such as video games), currently there is a considerable number of situations where it can be implemented. These situations include the application of software in various fields like simulations-related (for training or learning purposes) and design (for painting, 3D model design). Touchless interfaces along with gesture controls are emerging broadly popular because they offer the capabilities to interact with some computing devices without touching them physically. A good example where they have had a significant role is within the hospitality industry. This paper describes some of the most protuberant Touchless Interface tools used on multiple mediums in the hospitality industry.

In the current era, technology has emerged a critical aspect when it comes to attracting and maintaining hotel guests, and nowadays that means capitalizing on a comprehensive range of high-tech equipment which is user-friendly (Brochado, 2016, p. 2). Motion sensing and its supplements, such as gesture recognition, ease achievement of such objectives since they provide a substitute way of communicating in the hospitality sector with computer software which falls under the umbrella of TUI (Lafkas, 2013, p. 5). Reservations should be easily made through any smart gadget, guestrooms should enable any form of content, systems must be rock-solid, and the information should be handled as the most invaluable asset.

System users in this industry do not get into physical touch with any kind of input tools. Interactive walls, which offer art and info in the hotel lobby, for instance, are among the mega-trends in the hospitality sector which have taken a strong hold (Petrovits, 2014, p. 34). These are digital or ‘living walls” which use a variety of technology like projectors, 3D cameras, and motion detectors to interact with guests and answer back to their movements. Dining tables and interactive walls are developing at fast-casual restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, and unanticipated tourism and hospitality settings, including cruise ships. Touchless computerized innovators are designing these projector and digital-driven surfaces for pleasure and notify guests while also industrializing hospitality functions like wait staff duties and custodian services (Petrovits, 2014, p. 37).

These digital screens that are big and flamboyant are hoped to draw visitors out of their guest rooms and into the lobbies to study more about the property and nearby neighborhood. The main objective is to provide guests with something they cannot acquire on their own technology devices: Internal information about the guesthouse, personalized instructions on brasseries and attractions, artistic works by local artists, photographs of guests at sister properties around the globe, and so forth. In this era, visitors have a collective anticipation of acquiring any information they want instantaneously at their fingertips. This touchless interface invention has contributed to information surplus. With these digital screens, managers and supervisors can now monitor regularly what people are looking for and personalize the information to match their wellbeing and interests. The displays are emerging progressively common fittings at guesthouses of all price echelons, from luxury to limited service. The property administrators say it is the best approach to interconnect with present day’s tech-savvy guests. It engrosses them in a manner that a printed sign or even a gatekeeper cannot ( Information resources management association USA, 2015, p. 1337).

In addition to motion sensing, Speech Recognition is another characteristic of that kind of interaction. Voice in hospitality management is another mechanism of communication which can prove advantageous in the determination to generate a customer experience that is instinctual and natural (Sommerville, 2007, p. 109). Speech recognition is the newest technology that has made a huge impact in this business.  Voice recognition has emerged comparatively easy for guesthouse managers to incorporate, particularly those that readily have computerization systems in position. For those beginning from scratch, they have been able to get on track with informational features that advance with time (Sommerville, 2007, p. 264). Guests are very excited by the prospect of services such as facial recognition to open room doors, as well as using their devices to operate various elements in a hotel, such as a temperature control and in-room entertainment. Whichever device one is using for voice recognition needs, you can program it to say a personalized greeting when a guest arrives. Despite all the advantages that come with having a hotel room that is voice activated, it is more likely that the voice recognition systems will become more accepted when there are dedicated devices fully integrated into the hotel systems.

The most prevalent technique of integrating speech recognition technology is the emerging usage of virtual concierge services. As an alternative to having to pick up the telephone and make a call at the front desk, visitors can now conveniently make use of speech commands to ask for room services, book a spa day, reserve a table at the cafeteria, request for guidelines or catch up on event schedules (Pizam, 2010, p. 95). Speech recognition is also being used to create custom greetings for guests by programming a personalized greeting when a guest arrives. All hospitality companies have to do is to allow visitors understand how to stimulate the greeting or have a staff member present when they show up to do it for them. Businesses can now develop that regulation to include speech recognition by just integrating the suitable equipment whether it is an Amazon Echo device or a more unified system. Such aspects enable guests to personalize their experiences. Speech recognition software like Volara explicitly planned for the hospitality industry and includes wide-ranging data analytics. In regard to the instructions people use, one is able to estimate the proportion of guests using the technology, the facilities and services they ask mostly, and the reducing of front-desk phone calls (Pizam, 2010, p. 335).

Notwithstanding enormous developments, speech control high-tech mechanism is still not as instinctive as it should be. Hospitality companies need very explicit guidelines for it to function as expected. Just the same way they include a network guide in their guestrooms, they can add a list of guidelines which allow guests to fine-tune technology, ask for maintenance, or get to know more about the services offered. Besides, they ought to ensure their voice recognition devices are in a suitable position. These comprise of the touchpad that adjusts in-room panels, a percolator, and their voice-recognition devices. The devices ought to be central enough that they can accept commands from the bed and overall sitting room areas. Just like most smart technologies, speech identification depends solely on the Internet of Things. Instructions are directed to a cloud database before being implemented. Therefore, any fruitful voice recognition stratagem shall require the property to have a robust network substructure to back it up (Prideaux, Gianna Moscardo, & Laws, 2006, p. 65).

According to experts, touchless user interface technology, such as voice and gesture recognition technology is one of the next big technologies to be adopted by the hospitality industry. Almost everyone has seen commercials for these technologies and many will admit that they are impressive. With the voice recognition devices, it simply involves using a “wake word” and a voice-activated digital assistant can order room service, turn on the lights, play music, and several other conveniences. The implementation of these technologies into the hospitality industry involves a combination of extensive research, scrupulous preparations, and closely observed pilot programs. In the first steps, the hotel needs to look into other industry to see which ideas and innovations are taking off, and which ones are not working. In addition, they look into consumer technology in order to respond to how the consumers are living their lives. For example, most individuals have televisions in their homes but they do not watch broadcast channels. Instead, they stream content from their smartphones or laptops to the big screen. Several hotels such as La Quinta Inns and Suites are implementing technologies that allow their guests to wirelessly connect their devices or use the same streaming accounts they use at home to the TVs in their hotel rooms. (Hughes, 2017)

Touchless Interface in Hospitality Industry

While several hotels all over the world are involved in different pilot programs for implementing touchless user interfaces into their systems, they all have a common goal which is the seamless implementation of the technology. Hotel companies are working tirelessly to ensure that their team members are on board with all the ideas and that they are ready to take on any new responsibilities that come with the technology. This step is crucial if any new technology is to work. It is important for the hotel management to have a dialog with the team so that they are able to ask questions about the program and point out any issues that may have been missed (Hughes, 2017). Apart from that, it ensures that the program gets a detailed feedback on the changes that need to be made. With all the innovative technology and devices out there nowadays, one can easily get carried away. All the big hotel brands are fixated on one thing and that is providing their guests with the best experience possible. Their main focus when it comes to implementing TUI is to ensure that it is in line with their strategic initiatives and provide consistency in delivering an unforgettable hotel experience.

Even with the implementation of the touchless user interface, human interaction is key. This is because no matter how great the new technology may be, hotels are in the hospitality business. Connecting with the hotel guests on a human level is important to their overall satisfaction. If the receptionist is using the best software in the industry but does not make eye contact or smile at the clients as they check in the guest will obviously have a bad impression of the hotel. However, when it comes to simple tasks, most guests would prefer technology over human interaction and that is where the TUI comes in handy. Tasks such as check-in and check-out options and other basic guests’ requests can be automated with the right technology. This allows the hotel staff to have time for other activities for that enhance the guests’ experiences at the hotel. Moving to touchless user interface has become a game changer for hotel owners as it not only helps with marketing but also increases savings. Statistics show that more than fifty percent of hotels are looking into hotel room technology upgrades this year. Many have agreed that touchless interface technology is a great addition to the hospitality industry.

Implementation of these technologies in the tourism industry has not only increased the efficiency of marketing activities but it has also assisted in the improvement of the quality of services for guests. They are currently working on introducing high-tech room experience that is expected to be implemented in 2018 (Hilton, 2015, p. 1). Additionally, when it comes to security, room access is restricted to only guests. This means that all their belongings are secure to result in customer satisfaction. Many innovations later, new standards are continuously being set for the industry where guests get a travel experience where the room is customized to know them. Another advantage of using touchless access systems is that room keys cannot get lost or stolen (Hilton, 2015, p. 1). It is important to realize that there needs to be a mobile app to audit properties, convey every guest’s requests, analyze and solve quality issues in proper time. Training and managing employees on their incentives and many more tasks will enhance the quality of services in a budget environment. Touchless interface technology has reduced hotel reception lines. The technology has enabled front desk managers to keep track of special requests from guests, create new bookings, and to do much faster check-ins and check-outs (Subramanian, 2008, p. 4).

Touchless user interface technology has provided an efficient way for humans to interact with machines. The technology is reliable and the interfaces are user-friendly. These are some of the major factors that are fueling the application of the gesture recognition technology in the hospitality industry. Advancement of technology and product innovation is one of the major strategies adopted by most leading hotels. Innovation is important in order to deal with the existing competition. The industry is going to soon implement specialized cameras with features such as facial recognition and tracking technology. The product offers quality real-time facial detection while requiring low bandwidth and very little computing hardware. Several companies such as Hilton are involved in the research and production activities to come up with new innovative products. After all, in the hospitality industry, every advantage counts. The industry is built on the basis of customer service. Guest expectations have been growing gradually. Technological improvements should, therefore, be in alignment with guests’ expectations so that they stand out from their competition. These technological advancements have brought about a different outlook on the industry. They not only provide an excellent guest experience but they also give a competitive edge (Lytras, 2011, p. 105).

References

Information resources management association USA. (2015). Hospitality, travel, and tourism : concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications. Hershey, PA: Business Science Reference.

Brochado. (2016). High tech meets high touch in upscale hotels. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, 1/25.

Hilton. (2015, August 11). HILTON INTRODUCES DIGITAL KEY, FURTHER ENHANCING INDUSTRY-LEADING HHONORS APP. Retrieved from Global/Corporate News: http://newsroom.hilton.com/index.cfm/news/hilton-introduces-digital-key-further-enhancing-industryleading-hhonors-app-

Lafkas, G. (2013). A Natural User Interface and Touchless Interaction Approach on Web Browsing. Master of Science Thesis in the Master Degree Programme, Interaction Design & Technologies, 1/69.

Lytras, M. D. (2011). Digital culture and e-tourism : technologies, applications and management approaches. Hershey, Pa.: Information Science Reference.

Petrovits, D. (2014). Hotel Industry in this Digital World –What will the Future Bring? Bachelor’s Thesis Degree Programme in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management 2014, 1/53.

Pizam, A. (2010). International encyclopedia of hospitality management. Amsterdam ; Boston, Mass: Elsevier/Butterworth Heinemann.

Prideaux, B., Gianna Moscardo, & Laws, E. (2006). Managing tourism and hospitality services : theory and international applications. Wallingford : CABI.

Sommerville, K. L. (2007). Hospitality employee management and supervision : concepts and practical applications. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Subramanian, R. (2008). Computer security, privacy, and politics : current issues, challenges, and solutions. Hershey : IRM Press.

Touchless Interface in Hospitality Industry