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Poka-yoke Examples in the Hotel Industry

a photo of a hotel guest using a keycard, a common poka-yoke device in the hotel industry

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Traditionally used in manufacturing, a poka-yoke is a device or process that helps to avoid mistakes or defects. The hotel industry can use poka-yoke to avoid error in their operations. For example, a poka-yoke device could be used to ensure that room keys are correctly matched to the guest’s name, or that the correct number of towels are delivered to each room. Below, let’s look at poka-yoke examples in the hotel industry, with an emphasis on ways they’ve made it easier for guests who stay at the hotel.

The term “poka-yoke” and what it means

A poka-yoke is a system that prevents mistakes. It comes from the Japanese word for “error-proofing” or “avoiding mistakes.” Poka-yokes can be mechanical, such as a gear or light switch, or electronic like an error message that appears on a computer screen when it receives bad input. A poka-yoke device can also simply be a checklist that ensures you don’t miss any steps in an important process. For an overview and how to design your own, check out our previous article on poka-yokes.

Reasons why poka-yoke is useful in a hotel setting

Poka-yoke devices assist hotels in avoiding mistakes that would annoy or inconvenience their guests. The hotel industry cannot survive without its guests’ repeat business. One way to ensure your hotel stays in business is to offer a positive experience free from error. To do that, you apply the poka-yoke technique to identify the steps that lead to a common or frustrating mistake. Then, you implement a device or process to prevent that mistake from happening again.

Poka-yokes can help hotels:

  • Keep guests happy when they arrive and during their stay
  • Make guests feel welcome and safe in the hotel
  • Ensure that facilities receive proper maintenance
  • Reduce the number of staff needed to complete a task
  • Make sure that guests get the right value for their money
  • Promote a quality image in the eyes of guests and potential hotel-goers

7 Examples of poka-yokes in the hotel industry

Here are 7 examples of how poka-yokes can reduce mistakes and improve guest experiences at your hotel.

1. Match room keys to guests

One way that hotels can use poka-yoke is to ensure that room keys are correctly matched to the guest’s name. This can be done by using a barcode or radio frequency identification (RFID) tag on the key and matching it to the guest’s name in a database. The ID prevents guests from accidentally receiving someone else’s key, or from receiving a key that doesn’t work.

2. Streamline check-ins and check-outs with an iPad

Some hotels now use iPads as check-in and check-out devices. This eliminates the possibility of human error during the process, such as entering the wrong room number or forgetting to charge for parking. A computer can often run through a checklist of items much more quickly and accurately than a person – especially a busy and distracted receptionist.

3. Use handheld scanners to reduce human error

Handheld scanners can be used to scan room keys and other ID cards, as well as for scanning the guest’s credit card. This eliminates mistakes such as manually typing in a room number or missing digits from a credit card number.

4. Send up the right number of towels

Poka-yoke can also be used to make sure that the correct number of towels are delivered to each guest’s room. For example, a poka-yoke could be counting the number of guests staying in each room before sending up more towels. By tracking the number and weight of items sent up, hotels can also determine if something is missing later.

5. RFID tags for charging items

Some hotels have started to use RFID tags on their property so that they can track when their guests use certain amenities. This helps ensure that they receive the most accurate bill and allows them to charge items like room service and mini-bar items automatically.

6. Properly train staff on the hotel poka-yoke

One of the biggest factors in ensuring a positive hotel guest experience is proper training for all staff members. Poka-yoke devices ensure that hotel employees don’t miss any steps in an important process or make mistakes as a result of a lack of knowledge. For example, checklists make great poka-yoke training devices!

7. Ensure the right number of people are working at a certain time

To keep costs low, hotels may sometimes work with reduced or part-time staff during off-peak times. Hoteliers can make sure that the right number of people are working at a certain time by using automated poka-yokes. For example, a good labor management software for hospitality businesses can help you staff appropriately for the time or season. It can also send an alert to managers if the hotel is at risk of being understaffed or overstaffed.

Poka-yoke examples for hotels: just the beginning

Hopefully you enjoyed these poka-yoke examples for the hotel industry. As you can see, the whole point of poka-yoke is to prevent mistakes. Often, this means making things as simple and straightforward as possible for both staff and guests. Whatever the solution, the poka-yoke should always address the root cause of errors. This makes the hotel more efficient and safer for guests and can often result in money savings and higher customer satisfaction.

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