Ensuring that guests have a consistent, memorable experience is paramount to building your brand in the travel and hospitality space. To achieve this goal, many companies are putting their technology to work in a variety of ways—from location-based promotions to performance support that helps staff deliver high-touch service. As experts in the travel and hospitality space with a deep understanding of human experience, we see three ways brands can capitalize on new technology to deliver next generation guest experiences.
Empower Staff with Mobile Devices
Hotel properties are using mobile technology to empower staff to do their jobs efficiently and deliver seamless guest experiences. Many employees are embracing the use of mobile technology in their day-to-day workflows. We recently interviewed housekeeping staff at a major resort, where employees spoke glowingly about the iPhones they use to receive service request notifications from the front desk via a suite of hospitality management apps.
There were many reasons employees liked using the smart-device over paper spreadsheets. First, it ensured accountability by providing metrics on how long it took to respond to a service request or complete an order for service. Second, it was extremely easy to use—showing us an uncomplicated user interface with simple interactions. Last, it increased efficiency by allowing housekeeping staff to quickly allocate themselves by proximity to guests who needed service.
There is, however, an opportunity to empower employees even further: give them access to more granular data about guests and open up back-of-house management apps to guests through a consumer-facing portal. Allowing housekeepers to access guest preferences would enable them to deliver personalized touches. Guests could also let back-of-house managers know the level of service they are receiving through a rating along the lines of what Lyft or Uber has enabled for drivers. This kind of system would enable a more transparent environment for improving guest experience.
Streamline the Reservations Process
At every touchpoint, prospective guests should consistently be directed to the appropriate employee based on their needs and issues--no matter where or how they come to that touchpoint. If two guests call a resort inquiring about group rates for an upcoming event, they should be routed to the same department. It should not matter at which point they disclose the nature of their trip. A guest who shares her intention with either the main operator or the reservations desk should always be put in touch with the packages or experience department—if one exists.
In our recent experience, slippages in process often occur, especially with larger hotel brands with multiple properties. What’s to be done? As a starting point, larger hotel chains could integrate digital experiences that assist reservation agents--either directing them to transfer the call to a more appropriate department based on stated needs or allowing them to pull more detailed information that might assist the guests in their quests for information.
Guide the Guest with Digital Experiences
One of our most consistent observations in resort properties was the lack of guidance to nearby attractions or in-hotel amenities using mobile technology. We have seen many location-based promotional apps being leveraged by hotels (e.g., Yelp, Total Rewards), which is a kind of guidance. Judging by Yelp reviews, customers take these deals seriously, and their ability to take advantage of them impacts what sort of review they might give the property after their visit. Making promotions hyper-local and guiding the guest is one of the obvious benefits of using iBeacons, giving customers the right promotion at the right time in the right place.
With iBeacon applications popping up in retail stores one would think hotels would be clamoring to implement proximity-based promotions and to leverage enhanced data analytics. However, the creation of next level guest experiences using iBeacons has not yet seen wide-scale deployment in larger properties. Marriott has started to integrate the new technology into select hotels over this past year.
But the possibilities for leveraging iBeacons in the hospitality space are more exciting yet: Imagine a branded hotel app pushed to guests prior to their stay; a short in-app questionnaire allows a recommendation engine to push relevant promotions to the guest as they near certain areas of the hotel. Social media integration drives conversation around flash promotions or events, turning your guests into online advocates. App guided tours of the property or outside disclose historical information or show media as guests near certain areas of the hotel. Giving guests a sense that there is more to the property than meets the eye and injecting serendipity into the overall experience are some of the best promises of implementing iBeacon technology into hotel spaces.
The Stage Is Set
Whether it is creating transparency in the guest experience by opening up back of house operations, using iBeacons to create serendipitous guest experiences, or ensuring consistency in pre-booking experiences, there are so many opportunities for innovation. The question for brands is: How will you use innovative approaches to elevate the guest experience?