Cornell Study Urges Hoteliers to Be Realistic Regarding Guest Self Service Kiosks

Apr 09, 2010

Contact:  Glenn Withiam, 607.255.3025, grw4@cornell.edu 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Cornell Study Urges Hoteliers to Be Realistic Regarding Guest Self Service Kiosks

When it's good, it's very good, but when self-service goes wrong, guests don't come back, new hospitality study shows

Ithaca, NY, April 8, 2010 – As more hospitality companies implement some form of IT-based self-service, many are seeking to reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction, and possibly reach new customer segments. A new hospitality study from Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) points out that when self-service functions correctly, it does enhance guest satisfaction and improves hotels' financial results. However, when a problem occurs with the self-service computer system, guests are far less willing to return, much less pay a premium rate.

The study, "Integrating Self-Service Kiosks in a Customer Service System," by Tsz-Wai Lui and Gabriele Piccoli, is available at no charge from the CHR, at http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/reports/2010.html. Lui is an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Piccoli is a professor at the University of Grenoble Ecole de Management. Lui and Piccoli compiled statistics from two hotel chains totaling 163 hotels to determine the ratio of automated check-ins and the ratio of failed check-ins, using lobby self-service kiosks. They matched those data with aggregate financial performance from Smith Travel Research.

The hospitality study found that adding the self-service kiosks did improve the hotels' financial results, but the improvement showed a time lag. Thus, they caution hoteliers not to expect instant returns from adding self-service kiosks. However, when something went wrong with the self-service check-in, the hotels in question saw a reduction in guests' willingness to pay and willingness to return. For this reason, Lui and Piccoli urge careful rollout of self-service technology, along with substantial staff support for guests who are using computers to check-in.

Lui and Piccoli noted one peculiar finding. The addition of the self-service kiosks did not increase guests' perceptions of service speed at check-in. While their study did not provide conclusive reasons for this finding, the authors speculate that those guests who still use the front desk may use the check-in time to consult with service representatives who can dedicate more time to them, and can make upselling and cross-selling offers.

Thanks to the support of the CHR partners listed below, all publications posted on the center's website are available free of charge, at www.chr.cornell.edu.

About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 79 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit www.chr.cornell.edu.
 
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