New Context

New Context

Strategic Digital Transformation Moves by Installing Automatic Payment Machines at Hotels

Hotels are swiftly implementing digital services at their front desks, based on growing contactless needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and chronic labor shortages. Automatic payment machines have been adopted with particularly fast speed. How will digital transformation be incorporated into hotel stays, starting with automation at the front desk? We spoke to Reiko Saito of ANA Digital Gate, which is spearheading these transformations.


head; Sales Promotion Section; Payment Solution Department; ANA Digital Gate, Inc.

Reiko Saito

Started working at ANA TRADING CO., LTD. in February 2019. Transferred to ANA Digital Gate, where her job is focused on sales proposals for merchants using ANA Digital Gate’s “mPOS service” including collaboration with credit card companies and point-of-sale terminal manufacturers.

Drastic growth in automatic hotel payment machines

Have you ever waited in a long line at a hotel front desk? The check-in process involves filling out paperwork, providing a credit card, and receiving a room key. Staff members must handle questions from guests during their stays, and then process payments when they check out. This has all been done manually in the past, but today this process is changing with the use of front-desk terminals where guests can enter check-in information and pay their bill. This takes just a few minutes, and in many cases, they can receive their key and head straight to their room. 

These automatic payment machines are making waves in the hotel industry. Older machines could only be used for checking in. The most common type today can take credit cards, so the guest can complete the entire procedure on a single machine. This lets the hotel significantly reduce its number of front-desk employees and optimize work tasks.

Automatic check-in machines with ANA Digital Gate’s payment terminals

Reiko Saito is involved in this business at ANA Digital Gate. She named several social factors from the past three to four years that helped promote automatic payment machines.

“The biggest factor was the COVID-19 pandemic, when contactless services were required to reduce human contact. They have also drawn attention from hotels that had to make staff cuts due to the pandemic and chronic labor shortages.”

“Government support was essential for bringing these machines into widespread use. The government provided subsidies for installing automatic payment machines as part of its COVID assistance to hotels, which helped many accommodation facilities improve their services during the pandemic. This was further propelled by the growth of cashless payment methods, and hotels are rapidly introducing digital services at their front desks.”

Reducing nighttime front-desk staff and strengthening security

The results of this automation are already coming into view. A business hotel chain was able to reduce its nighttime staff by installing automatic payment machines integrated with ANA Digital Gate’s card readers. Several staff members were previously stationed at each hotel in the area. Now, there are some cases in which one employee can cover roughly three hotels during nighttime hours.

Moreover, automatic payment machines are beneficial in the security field—fewer cash transactions can lower the risk of crime. Employees can focus on creative tasks, rather than on exchanging money or closing registers.

“ANA Digital Gate collaborates with NIPPON NCR BUSINESS SOLUTION  Co., Ltd, which has the top domestic share for check-in machines. We develop automatic payment machine solutions for one-stop services from check-in to payment. The number of hotels using these solutions grew drastically during the pandemic, and today there are more than 450 across the country. This number is increasing by more than 10 facilities per month, which I think demonstrates the high level of automation needs.”

ANA Digital Gate’s card readers have helped achieve rapid growth by enabling smooth system integration with existing hotel terminals. These products are driving digital transformation in many other industries, including golf courses and amusement parks.

Technologies propelling digital transformation in the hotel industry into the next stage

Biometric authentication technologies are expected to be the next stage of digital transformation. The possibility is growing that these technologies can simultaneously provide security and convenience by verifying an individual’s identity based on their fingerprints, face, irises, and other physical characteristics. ANA Digital Gate has conducted a proof of concept at a golf course. For this test, users registered their finger vein patterns for almost instantaneous check-in at the golf course.

However, there are some issues to solve. These technologies are easy to implement at golf courses and other facilities that are often patronized by the same customers, but they must be used in different ways at hotels, which have many one-time guests. Saito described how guests may experience hotel stays in the future.

“Contactless services, which allow guests to complete online check-in before arrival, may become the mainstream going forward. I think there will come a day when payment machines are replaced by digital room keys. We may be able to increase customer satisfaction and repeat rates by combining coupons with cashless payments. We are constantly thinking about what kinds of experiences we can offer based on this vision of the future.”

Optimization is not the sole objective of digital transformation—for hotels, improving service quality is the most important goal. For example, guests could share their preferences while checking in online, such as pillow firmness, amenities, and room temperature. The hotel could choose an optimal room based on these requests, and could also fulfill the needs of non-smoking and vegetarian guests. Artificial intelligence could be used to analyze their preferences from past stays and provide more personalized services. Front-desk digitization is a chance to build stronger relationships with guests and encourage them to become repeat customers.

These trends will lead to more seamless hotel stays. After checking in and paying online, the guest can arrive at their room at the specified time. They can open the smart lock using biometric authentication and begin their stay immediately. Cashless payments will also make it easier for guests to shop at hotel facilities by paying for dining and room charges at the end of their stay. Guests can enjoy more pleasant experiences without having to worry about payments during their stays.

Total optimization through digital services is the key to satisfying hotel stays

Of course, it will not be easy to create this future. Many hotels still use legacy systems and cannot suddenly implement digital transformation from the top down. Hotels must seamlessly link their overall services and data; the important point is to avoid partial optimization in individual divisions. 

“I think we need to be more than a cashless system provider going forward. As a hotel digital transformation partner, I believe we must understand on-site issues and come up with future visions together while promoting transformations. Cashless payment machines are the first step to offering new guest experiences. Cashless payments and digital services have the potential to change hotel services from the bottom up.”

The day is approaching when hotels will implement digital transformation in the true sense of the word, offering satisfying, smooth experiences to guests from check-in to check-out, while also helping boost hotel productivity.

mobile Pos Payment Service "mPOS"

mPOS includes a wide range of multi-payment services, such as payment terminals that can be incorporated into automatic payment machines, check-in machines, ticket machines, and other self-payment machines, as well as terminals that can easily be used with smartphones or tablets. These services are utilized by many companies like hotels, amusement facilities, airports, and commercial facilities. Mobile payments are also used for taking on-site payments and at events.