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Automation can seem like a really intimidating word, with thoughts of a robot apocalypse and 2001: A Space Odyssey flashing before you. While we’re not quite there yet, research into automation and its growing popularity coupled with increased value proposition considering social distancing norms proves it’s not something to just be dismissed, as science fiction in general nor within the tourism industry.

Automation comes in many shapes and sizes, with the overarching goal of these increased technological innovations(opens in a new tab) being to “decrease costs, streamline operations, eliminate waste, and improve productivity and efficiency”. Consider all the ways that automation has already appeared within the industry, from automated check-in, interactive map kiosks, car rentals where you unlock the car with a card or app, concierge robots that roll up to your room filled with your pre-selected snacks, vacuum robots, table-side ordering on a monitor, and audio guides—a highly successful example of automation. Unless you’re an expert in that industry, this is probably more than you realized, and it shows that in the long run that automation can not only save time and labor, but can also contribute to an increase in customer satisfaction!

The goal with automation in hospitality should not be seen as having an agenda to entirely remove human interaction but rather move towards eliminating unnecessary physical contact(opens in a new tab), which evidently will see an increase in value and relevance post-pandemic. By freeing employees from mundane or monotonous tasks, they can focus on elevated guest experiences and more productive or valuable work.

Moving forward the possibilities for automation are endless. It may seem like something which is very far away, and in reality, its integration and success is not entirely known, but often what starts out seeming strange becomes adopted as normal over time. So who knows, maybe robot tour guides will become a thing in this lifetime (but personally, I have my doubts).

In terms of integrating automation into your tour business, a first step could be using a live chat system(opens in a new tab) on your website so that you don’t have to constantly answer customer inquiries. Another option is using a social media management system so that you don’t have to worry about doing all your posts individually or on a particular day. While these are relatively small-scale applications of automation, remember that the goal is to make things easier for both you as the business owner as well as for your prospective or current customers, so be open to its potential!

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