Most hospitality companies have been implementing self-service channels with a goal of reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty, and reaching new customer segments. No matter how successful the self-service channel, companies rarely eliminate traditional personal service when they introduce a self-service channel. Instead, companies typically maintain a portfolio of service-delivery channels which allows guests to select the way they interact with the companies. Consequently, managers should consider the interaction among the channels within the portfolio, with particular attention to how they complement each other. Using a research technique called structural equation modeling, the study described here examined the financial and guest-satisfaction results of integrating a self-service kiosk in two brands operated by an international hotel company. Based on data from the company, this study indicates that when certain routine tasks (e.g., checking in and issuing room keys) were handled in kiosks, hotels did see increases in average daily rate. However, when something went wrong with the self-service check-in, the hotels in question saw a reduction in guests' willingness to return. Oddly, the addition of the check-in kiosks did not increase guests' perceptions of service speed at check-in. One possible explanation is that guests used the check-in time to consult with services representatives regarding the destination or other topics, and front-desk associates took the opportunity to make upselling and cross-selling offers.
After eight years on the faculty of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University Gabriele Piccoli is now Professor of Information Systems at the Grenoble Ecole de Management (France). His research and teaching expertise is in strategic information systems and the use of Internet technology to support customer service. His research has appeared in MIS Quarterly, MIS Quarterly Executive, Harvard Business Review, Communications of the ACM, Decision Sciences Journal, The DATABASE for Advances in Information Systems, The Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, as well as other academic and applied journals.