Research Paper: Implication of Self-Service Technology Is Applied in Hotel Industry

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¶ … technology in the hospitality industry. The work first addresses the growth of the service sector in relation to the hospitality industry and will then discuss changes that have and will occur in the industry as a result of technology. The most important aspect of this work is the analysis of self-service technology (SST) as the most enduring and important trend in hospitality, with the understanding that SST must be supported by personal service and ultimately offers many opportunities and some challenges for the industry as a whole.

The service industries have always played a significant role in the economy of the United States the projected growth of the service sector in the next decade and beyond is so significant it has become the stuff of legend.

Reflecting its historical dominance, the service-providing sector is projected to account for all of the growth in nonagriculture wage and salary employment. Specifically, this sector's employment is expected to reach 129 million by 2014, accounting for almost 4 out of every 5 jobs in the U.S. economy. (Berman, 2005, p. 45)

As this nation and the global economy in general change with regard to the development of technology as well as conversion to a more service industry emphasis it is clear that the hospitality industry is and will remain a major player in economic change. "The availability and use of appropriate technologies govern the success of a service encounter." (D'Souza & Menon, 1995, p. 481) the realization of this fact is an essential element in continued success for the smallest as well as the largest hospitality industry business. Self-Service technology is in fact the present standard in many areas and offers substantial advantages and opportunities, if implemented correctly and appropriately in the hospitality industry.

Technology Infusion in Service Encounter

Technology in general has often been made or broken in the service sector and in the hospitality industry and a more recent trend, though it goes back decades in the service industry, is self-service technology. Self-service technology or any technology that is utilized by the consumer to purchase or procure the services and goods he or she needs has become almost second nature to the hospitality industry. Expansion of existing SST is likely to occur in the hospitality industry, partly as a result of the exponential growth of the service industry but also as a result of increased consumer confidence in such technology.

Self-service technologies (SSTs) are technological interfaces that enable customers to produce a service independent of direct service employee involvement. Examples of SSTs include automated teller machines (ATMs), automated hotel checkout, banking by telephone, and services over the Internet, such as Federal Express package tracking and online brokerage services. (Meuter, Ostrom, Roundtree, & Bitner, 2000, p. 50)

SSTs pop up almost daily in existing hospitality businesses and are in near constant trials, introduced in forms that challenge consumers to in short meet their own needs through advanced vending and service acquisition technology. Consumers can now book a hotel room, a rental car, a seat on a flight and find out what the happenings are in the location where they are visiting all from their office or their home PC. Interestingly enough they can also easily do all this, not necessarily ever meet a service delivery employee at most of the locations they stop, other than the standard security and key pick up interactions. In other areas of the hospitality industry, such as restaurants and bars SST exists to some degree, in much the same way it has for decades, and in general the higher the price you pay for service the less likely you are to have to vend your own beverage or other SST-based transactions yet much convenience SST technology is available in the industry.

The hospitality industry has been a leader in business and technology and innovation since its beginnings in the U.S. Restaurants, hotels, travel agencies, and even bars and nightclubs have historically led the way in the use, trial and implementation of technology and more complicated and cost effective and ultimately profitable ways of doing business. In the light of this history, the question then arises, has the hospitality industry begun to lag behind in the acceptance of new technologies or does it continue to lead the way demanding the creation of new technology to meet its growing need? This work will analyze this important question by initially offering a short introduction to the history of SST technology in the hospitality industry and then move toward the future to determine the need for more in the industry, by looking at the need and demand offered by the different hospitality providers and looking at possible future trends that will need to be met to keep a hand in the growth market.

Brief History of SST Technology in Hospitality

Without a clear understanding of the innovative manner in which the hospitality industry has grown, both domestically and internationally it might be easy for the modern consumer to assume that advances in technology are not a priority in the industry. This would be an assumption made in error, as historically speaking the hospitality industry has been demanding and producing innovation since it began. The industry has led the way in the development especially of food and beverage transportation, storage and preparation, business strategy developments as well as communications technology so they can more easily provide the consumer with quality at an increasingly rapid rate of delivery. A modern consumer, without a clear knowledge of the historical place of the hospitality industry in business, might ask if the hospitality industry is seeking technology as it is being developed in other industries or if it is embarking on the demand for specialized technology to continue to grow its businesses, in specialized ways, such as through SST. The answer is that staying ahead in the global economy requires a continued effort to demand specialized technology services as well as to embrace those that are making other industries strong, or in other words to stay strong and profitable the industry must do both.

The restaurant industry in particular has developed over the years, and especially in the U.S. A clear position as leader in innovative business practices with regard to not only technology, demanding and even creating in some cases the specialized technology it needed to provide sustenance for a growing nation but also in the structure and function of all businesses. The word franchise is synonymous with food and beverage delivery systems, and it is now a foundational part of all industry in the U.S. Interestingly enough to create such a system of business original innovators had to create technology or demand it of manufacturers that would help them create products more quickly and in as consistent a manner as possible. Currently SST plays a significant role in the franchise arena in hospitality as it is first afforded by business collectives, such as franchises due to their unique ability to shoulder cost burdens due to size and to try new things at delivery locations to test consumer demand and acceptance. The very first and most successful business franchise, Kentucky Fried Chicken is a paramount example, where Sanders had to create an entirely knew cooking device to be able to quickly and consistently provide a product that consumers wanted. Sanders did not serve fried chicken in his original restaurant as it took to long to provide the product, and he believed in fresh cooked food. His innovation was a pressure deep fryer and a business concept that are both to a large degree still being used today to deliver the product, as well as many others. (Funding Universe Website "KFC Corporation History" at: http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/KFC-Corporation-Company-History.html) Another fascinating example of an innovation lead in the hospitality industry is the famed and not necessarily successful Automat restaurants, where the entire restaurant was automated, and the customer could choose pre-prepared foods from the technology of a very complicated vending system. (Meyers, 2003, p. 222) Though Americans clearly wished for at least slightly more personal service the Automat is an example of the fact that many entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry are adventurous and innovative and many though not all were successful. The Automat, to some degree has been slightly toned down as aspects of its use that were successful have become mainstay in the hospitality industry. Though a fully automated restaurant was not ultimately successful many of the vending technologies are still utilized today and of course improved upon with each passing year and each specialized need. The consumer then becomes the co-creator of SST as he or she accepts or rejects specific aspects of it in any given hospitality business. Other co-creators are the businesses themselves who often utilize the beta testing of other businesses and industries to help determine where best to allocate funding for SST additions to their own storefronts. (Hilton & Hughes, 2008, pp. 22-34)

Not to be left out, other hospitality businesses are equally innovative, as hotels and motels answered the call of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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