Are these hotel apps making self-service the ideal for guests?

  Posted in Cloud

It’s no secret modern-day travellers are becoming more accustomed to hyper-personalised and streamlined service from their hotels. In fact, if the hotel is going to deliver on its promise of quality, your guests expect a personalised and convenient experience.

Hotels can adapt to this growing need by prioritising data, technology, and connectivity. It’s important to know what guests want, and also how to provide the appropriate services through hotel systems and applications. The tradition of limiting service and interaction to just your hotel staff and physical property is being outgrown by the ability of technology to automate and make many processes easier for guests.

Where travellers once expected to be greeted by a front desk operator, they might now prefer the self-service experience that mobile check-in offers. Given the average person wastes an hour each week waiting in line, it’s no surprise that self-service is catching on.

The self-service approach allows staff to be less transactional and focus on establishing genuine connections with guests. With technology in place, hotel employees will no longer be confined to stationary positions within the lobby or left to guess what guest expectations might be.

For a better idea of the trends in this area and the enabling power of technology and connectivity, we spoke to four hotel applications to get their perspective. They are:

  • Oaky
    A tool that drives incremental revenue and enhances the guest experience through targeted pre-arrival upselling.
  • OpenKey
    A company that specialises in mobile and keyless hotel access.
  • GuestJoy
    An easy-to-use solution that allows hotels to promote offers, gather feedback, and personalise guest experience.
  • HotelFlex
    An automation service to produce more revenue for each hotel room by allowing guests to check-in early and check-out late for set fees.

Here are their thoughts on the current hotel guest service landscape….

What are some noticeable hotel service trends in the industry right now?

Oaky believes that adaptation is key:
“Travellers of today are diverse and want to stay in a place which lets them live out their individuality. They want a hotel which adapts to them, not the other way around. The quest for individualised experiences sets them apart from older generations and has created a challenge for many hoteliers.”

OpenKey urges hotels to pay attention to delays:
“Guests expect convenience, simplicity and the same instant gratification they enjoy in other areas of their lives. However, hotel and resort staff face the daunting task of handling an endless array of guest issues with a limited team. No matter how well trained front desk staff might be, there are always occasions where long lines form and waiting guests become frustrated. Even a five-minute wait in a check-in line can result in a 50% reduction in guest satisfaction scores.”

GuestJoy suggests that increased flexibility is important:
“Guests have become accustomed to the Airbnbs of the world where everything offered to them is extremely relevant and guest has the option to tweak the experience themselves. A similar trend is seen among major hotel chains, where they are using loyalty solutions to promote offers and services based on the guests’ preferences and guests have the ability to check-in using mobile. Independent hotels are slowly but steadily starting to embrace such solutions.”

HotelFlex says a personal service is no longer a nice-to-have option:
“Personalisation of guest service is no longer a trend, but an obligation for hotels. For example, traditional check-in times were designed for a guest that no longer exists. With long haul travel now very much mainstream, 40% of guests are either arriving on flights before 7am or leaving on flights that take off after 6pm. Tailoring check-in/check out times to your guest’s travel plans is the next battleground of personalisation.”

What’s the power of automation for hotels and guests?

Oaky advises that hotels pay close attention to segmentation:
“By combining powerful segmentation with a high-conversion platform, upselling can really help deliver the five R’s of revenue management: Selling the right room on the right channel to the right customer at the right time at the right price.

“Using segmentation properly allows you to target and market to a variety of potential buyers with varying needs, behaviors and budgets. Doing this well will provide you data needed to understand the success of your current revenue strategies and adjust them to maximise your topline in the future.

“Software providers can take most of that work off your hands. Setting up your segments is done in a matter of minutes, and the software handles the rest, like making sure the segments you choose are offered attractive deals in automatically sent emails.”

OpenKey says hotels shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with AI:
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms or chatbots can be used to answer simple guest questions and requests freeing up hotel staff to focus on the most complicated guest issues. With mobile keys, bluetooth technology allows mobile devices to communicate directly with the door lock on a guest room.

“Automation technology can also be leveraged to enhance communication between the hotel staff and guest. Platforms like ours at OpenKey also gives hotels the ability to offer mobile dining, valet requests, concierge, and other guest services – in addition to a digital key – from a mobile app.”

GuestJoy recommends using hotel tech to boost your brand perception:
“Automating guest communication opens up a tremendous potential for the hotel. Typically pre-arrival or confirmation emails have been seen as just a system-generated message verifying that a reservation has been made. But this is the first time guest hears about you. “Wouldn’t it be nice, if you could delight the guest with a warm greeting, in their own language, with offers that are specific to their profile or segment? With proper tools, this can be easily achieved.

“If a guest booked a standard room, the system may automatically offer the deluxe room. Or if the airport is far away, offer them a fully arranged taxi service. If targeted properly, upsell and cross-sell efforts can significantly improve guest satisfaction as offers are more relevant.”

HotelFlex says the key to using automation is timing and targeting:
“When should you send the offer and who should you send it to? Hotels often send their upsell offers too early when the pain point the hotel is looking to solve is not front of mind for the guest. How should you change your offer depending on the nature of the guest? We’ll change how we target and what we offer guests depending on nationality and travel time.”

How are hoteliers reacting to the pivotal role of technology?

OpenKey says its technology is helping hotels to be more efficient:
From the perspective of our customers, like The Clarendon Hotel and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona, it’s a real positive. The hotel’s general manager, Charles Morman, said: “As we look to elevate our service, mobile technology will help us deliver a simplified and efficient guest experience. Today’s traveller wants to save time and enjoy their travel, not wait in check-in lines. We couldn’t be happier about adding a tech solution that will ultimately benefit our guests.”

GuestJoy says hotels are striving for a balance between human and tech:
“Hoteliers are slowly beginning to understand that technology is not here to replace the human touch but to complement it. Historically guest-facing technology was seen as a toy they can live without. But more and more guests expect these types of convenience services and hotels are realising, this is the new norm. Most guests are not overly expressive about their wants and needs. This means, without tech, it will become extremely difficult to deliver superior guest experience.”

How important is connectivity for hoteliers and the platforms they use?

Oaky says integration is always important:
“As a minimum we need the reservation data from hotel guests, which can be gleaned from the PMS, channel manager, or OTA. So it’s important these systems are able to integrate easily with each other.”

HotelFlex goes even further to say integration is everything:
“Connectivity is our holy grail. Without it we can’t automate our services for our clients, which means adding manual work to the hotel’s front desk, which simply doesn’t work. The ability for technology to continue to help hotels run their businesses, hinges on the providers ability to connect into the hotel’s tech stack.

“Hoteliers completely understand the pivotal role of tech, but their hands have been tied by the lack of connectivity offered by their incumbent technology systems.”

The last word from SiteMinder:
“Legacy connection issues have existed for quite some time, resulting in much frustration for applications and PMSs who have great products and opportunities, but a lack of easy integration between partners and clients.

“To make it simpler for all SiteMinder Exchange was created – a ‘data-as-a-service’ platform that allows hotel technology applications to connect with property management systems and their hotels. A development like this means the players in this space only have to build once, but will have access to a huge number of partner systems. It also allows hoteliers access to a more integrated setup, offering more opportunities to make their business successful.”

How to diversify your hotels distribution strategy

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