Kiosks and luxury hotels are not compatible. We’ve been hearing this from so-called experts for decades. Yet the European-based boutique hotel chain citizenM has proven the opposite. In fact, Kiosk usage at the citizenM hotels reaches virtually 100% in all properties. Of course by removing the front desk, citizenM automatically increases kiosk usage. But the real magic is that the guests truly enjoy the kiosk experience and some even select citizenM because of it.
Why did citizenM succeed so wildly whereas other hotel chains have retired their expensive kiosks or put them in a dark corner of the lobby where they gather dust? One could talk about the pleasing and inviting design of the kiosks (designed and developed by Enzo Systems). One could talk about the physical placement of the kiosks in the front rather than the back of the lobby. One could say that the citizenM clientele appreciates automation.
Certainly all of these factors contribute to the success. However we would like to talk about other aspects, perhaps more subtle but equally powerful: the user interface and HMS integration. Ask a guest about the user interface at the kiosk and the answer will be as often as not: “I don’t recall.” Now think about that for a minute. You put months of effort into a user interface and the guests can’t even remember a thing about it. Did you fail? No, this is exactly what one should try to achieve with a user interface. Something so simple, so natural that people don’t even notice that they are using a piece of advanced technology.
The user interfaces that we do remember today are too often the ones that frustrate us, confuse us and force us to think too much. If we have piqued your curiosity and you want to know more about the citizenM interface, you’ll just have to see it for yourself in person. But we can tell you a few things that you will not find on the kiosk: advertising, links, multi-field entry screens, complex selection boxes, videos or flashy graphics. Instead you’ll find a natural flow of questions and answers and before you know it, you’re done and on your way to your hotel room.
So what about the second subtle but powerful aspect that makes the kiosks at citizenM a success? The integration with the hotel management system – hetras, in this case – goes beyond what we typically call an interface or integration. By using hetras’ web services, the kiosk doesn’t have an interface in the classic sense. Instead it’s just a front end to the hetras database. This means, among other things, that if hotel staff can locate a reservation and check in a guest, then so can the guest. It also means that no data can ever get lost or distorted in between the kiosk and the hotel management system as it’s all essentially one system.
“Hotel groups around Europe are asking us to help them achieve kiosk success similar to citizenM” says Uli Pillau, managing director at hetras. “The citizenM kiosk is a customized solution. Look for a standard hetras kiosk product in the near future.”