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Hotel Guest Experience Software Articles
One thing modernity has changed for good is how much customers have become impatient, expect a personalized experience, and have less tolerance for errors. The immediacy of social media and mobile access to real-time information have altered guests’ behavior into expecting to be answered on-demand no matter the stage of the buying journey they are in—what Google calls “micro-moments”. The alarming number of customer service channels is entirely new to hoteliers, while their response time window has shrunk more and more. Not to mention how previous interactions become a predicament as agents have to juggle different channels, trying to grasp some context to ensure guests feel heard and understood. This need to shorten the booking journey and have a broader view of simultaneous customer demands has brought omnichannel solutions to the table. That said, to better understand how omnichannel service software can change the game for hotels, we first need to think about the multichannel strategy. What is the difference between omnichannel and multichannel? Email and phone calls are not the only means of communication customers use anymore. Travelers want practicality and to reach hotels no matter the channel they are using at the moment. To be where travelers are, it’s in hotels’ best interests to diversify how people can find them—this is a multichannel strategy. But once hotels multiply their communication channels, how can they handle simultaneous incoming requests from Instagram, website chat, Facebook, Google Messages, and WhatsApp, for example? An omnichannel dashboard is the answer. Multichannel strategies have agents jumping between channels, trying to prioritize a constant flow of requests and questions. An omnichannel solution centralizes all channels into a unified inbox, while also keeping data shared between channels. Why is omnichannel communication so relevant for hotels? When you broaden your reach with new communication channels, chances are you’ll be available when travelers are excited about the possibilities of a stay, ensuring more bookings coming your way. It is no coincidence that companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers. On the profiting side, marketers using three or more channels in a campaign earned a 494% higher order rate than those using a single-channel campaign. Google research shows that of all leisure travelers on smartphones, 69% search for travel ideas during spare moments, and nearly half of those travelers go on to book their choices through an entirely separate channel. Those are countless potential guests which hotels can reach by being present on different channels. Innovation to save the day in the thick of hospitality staff shortage An omnichannel solution has a more important than ever role to play for hotels. The present record shortage of hospitality staff the world over has hoteliers struggling to do all they can to prioritize tasks and ensure travelers don't feel the effect of yet another crisis. That is why this technology comes as a win-win. It creates unified workflows which catalyze a seamless experience for customers. It helps hotels drive the revenue they so desperately need right now. Additionally, an omnichannel strategy ensures managers assign the right agent to handle a certain segment or campaign. This way, you can distribute incoming queries and ensure that more experienced agents handle the most profitable opportunities. Why is omnichannel communication so relevant for travelers? American customer service expert, Shep Hyken, advocates for a seamless experience and explains how having two or ten channels makes any business a multichannel provider. Rather, it is only when channels are interconnected that the omnichannel experience takes place. A report on the multichannel demands of customers showed that 63% of customers prefer a choice of channels to contact customer service, and that 50% of customers expect representatives to have access to previous interactions with the company. An omnichannel service platform ensures all communication channels are unified into a single window. Agents can not only see all the different channels in a macro view, but they can also track the chat history for every guest, ensuring a seamless experience. In practical terms, instead of accessing several tabs where one shows all incoming DMs on Instagram, another shows emails, and yet another all WhatsApp API messages, etc., agents have a broader view of each customer journey: Here is Mr. Smith, and he made first contact through Facebook messages two weeks ago, then he asked a question using the web chat, and now he is ready to book using email. The Takeaway Even if a traveler’s first touchpoint happened weeks in advance, a different attendant can take over without making them repeat themselves. Omnichannel communication service is a rock-solid way to five-star customer service. When agents are there to answer, travelers don't feel frustrated. In an industry where quality and timing are of the essence and workers are few, adopting an omnichannel solution has put many hotels ahead of their competitors. This approach creates a sense of continuity for guests and works as an extra pair of hands for agents, organizing the workflow distribution for hotels. As for hoteliers, this truly gets them more bookings out of less work by providing their teams with an optimized workflow that can clear out their plates to work on the prospects ready to make hotels run at full capacity.
Guests’ satisfaction has been dependent on the work of hotel employees for a long time. However, hotels may not have enough staff (a common phenomenon today) or they may encounter understandable staff limits (people are not reachable nonstop or can be slow, etc.). This can lead to problematic situations such as check-in queues or insufficient communication with guests. Therefore, the dependency of guest satisfaction on the performance of the staff only may not be the best possible solution for a hotel. Especially nowadays, when there is an option to supplement the work of hotel employees with available systems. Mobile applications, software designed to improve the care that guests receive in hotels, are a typically great support for the work of staff. But it’s not just about mobile applications, the story of service improvements begins (traditionally) with PMSs. PMS and third-party systems Several systems are available for hotels. However, in order for their operation to develop thanks to the use of these systems, it is necessary to connect them “to solid foundations”, i.e. a good PMS. Not only because PMS simplifies hotel administration and increases its efficiency, but also because it gathers lots of information that third-party systems need to use. That’s why, for the good of the hotels, the responsibilities of PMSs should include “openness”, which means they should be enabling integrations with third-party software. But not all PMSs work that way. In many places, it is a standard even today to use PMS which does not support integration. Such a hotel then becomes a “prisoner” of its own system and deprives itself of the possibility to move its services forward. On the other hand, this situation is ideal for PMS itself, it keeps the client in hand and does not let third-party software in. At the same time, the PMS tries to provide everything the hotelier needs through its native functions. But that will never work, PMSs cannot do everything. On the other hand, what they can (and must) be capable of, is collecting data and providing it to integrated systems. Quality comes first Not using the data provided by PMS limits the hotel’s potential and profits. Problems may arise in various places – dissatisfied guests may wait a long time for check-in, staff may spend endless hours manually entering and processing data or sending emails to guests. But we can solve or even prevent all such problems today – thanks to mobile applications for example. Mobile applications complement (or substitute) the work of hotel staff. Just as hotel staff, mobile applications are guests’ company during the hotel trip, they only differ in the sense that some of them are “with the guests” throughout the whole stay whereas some accompany them just through part of it. But why does the choice of PMS matter when it comes to mobile applications? Because the quality of the integration is of the essence. The more features the mobile application has, the more data needs to be transmitted and the more complex integration has to be built. It is still true that PMSs must be an open platform (providing APIs and integrating third-party systems) but that’s just half of the story. They must also be able to build complex integrations, i.e. exchange data with complex systems such as AeroGuest, a mobile application that is with guests from booking to check-out. The amount of data this system needs is huge. The quality of integration is crucial. One small step for a hotelier, one giant leap for a hotel As was said, the mobile application may accompany guests during part of their stay or take care of them from the journey’s start to its end. The choice of specific application(s) for a hotel depends on the hotelier – whether he wants to enable online check-in, install mobile locks on doors, automate communication with guests, increase revenue by supporting upselling, etc. In the category of systems that are with the guest “from start till the end”, we can find applications such as AeroGuest, which is a system that allows online check-in/out, online payment for a hotel room, an upgrade of hotel room via mobile phone, upselling or installation of mobile locks. The second category consists of applications (GuestJoy, MyStay, Upsellguru), which focus on part of the journey of hotel guests, that means for example on automation of communication with guests, enabling online check-in, or increasing the effectiveness of upselling. But if we distinguish the systems only according to how big part of the guest’s journey they can take care of, we remain too superficial. It is important to look deeper, for example, at the level of automation that various applications bring to hotels. There is a huge difference between online check-in meaning only pre-filling in the information or meaning taking care of the whole process via mobile phone (and thus not having to come to the front desk upon arrival) or between having to pick up a door key/card or not (and thus going straight to the room after arrival). Guests can also spot a difference between the possibility of ordering extra services or upgrading the room directly through the mobile application and the situation in which the application just informs guests and they have to write an email or ask someone in order to get some of the available services. It depends only on the hotelier which solution he picks. But whatever his preferences, the way to open the hotel to third-party systems must begin with the right choice of PMS. Its selection is a giant leap for the entire hotel, as it is the basis for the proper functioning of third-party systems that then take staff work and guests’ experience to the next level. That brings us back to the beginning. The more complex the application, the better integration a hotel needs. If a hotelier chooses the right PMS, his only limitations when picking mobile applications are his own preferences.
Over the course of several months, airlines have felt a massive surge in travel while guests amp up for a summer of leisure. And while this may seem like an opportune time to acquire guests and drive revenue, it can also leave hotels feeling inundated with bookings and requests. Especially with the new wave of labour shortages. As summer nears and requests continue to grow we’ve put together key tips on how to navigate a new wave of guests. So you can experience smoother operations and a thriving guest experience. How To Prepare Your Hotel For An Influx of Guests Identify touchpoints that matter. Your hotel is compromised of multiple key touchpoints that come together to create the full experience. In accommodating an influx of guests, it’s important to take a look at your journey and identify areas to enhance. These could be moments like check-in, the waiting room for a spa visit, or at the entrance of your restaurant. Each moment will be different for each hotel, however, understanding these touchpoints can help you anticipate opportunities to address and issues to resolve - all before the employee gets inundated with requests. Educate and arm your team. Your employees are present in virtually every aspect of the guest experience. Therefore it’s important to set expectations and educate employees on ways to improve the experience when there are more guests to tend to. This can be done by holding regular meetings and showcasing different ways to tackle cleanliness, check-in, requests and more. The idea here is to keep the team organized and equip employees with the knowledge to be proactive. Automate redundant tasks. Redundant tasks are essential for hotel operations, however, they undoubtedly take away from an employee's valuable time and resources. Especially with more guests, it’s important that your team be readily available and focused on the guest experience without feeling overwhelmed. In this instance, automated technology should be a top consideration. For instance, a technology that schedules messages or provides actionable data to empower employees to do more with less. We see this in action, through a common hotel example; the check-in experience. Historically done at reception when a guest first arrives, check-in is one of the more pivotal moments in the guest experience. Providing a first impression, many hotels are pivoting to include automated or tech-focused ways of checking in. This reduces crowding in your lobby, a lineup at your reception and of course eliminates the need for employees to complete redundant tasks. Employees simply schedule an email a few days prior with a pre-populated link to input their information. Using tools to simplify redundant tasks allows employees to better the experience and alleviates operational burdens. Further, you can reduce staff at reception and amp up employees where it matters most. Automate request management. With more guests pouring in, manually managing requests can give rise to an onslaught of challenges. Not only is it prone to error, but can lead to long wait times, inundated employees, errors in service fulfillment, a less-than-personal experience, or never receiving the request at all. However, with these challenges comes the opportunity to become more proactive. Using automated technology that enables ticket management, guest requests can seamlessly make their way to your staff no matter where they are on-site. In most instances, sophisticated ticket management software will provide a cross-department view of what’s in progress and what’s awaiting action - for complete transparency and efficiency. Insight into a personal experience. While an influx of guests can get overwhelming, that doesn’t mean the guest experience has to suffer. In fact, in order to maintain your hotel's reputation with a new wave of guests, the experience must be top of mind. In that, personalization is one of the key ways of driving a great experience. It promotes loyalty by showing your guests you care about their sentiments and preferences. In fact, in a study conducted by Accenture, “91% of consumers surveyed said they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them”’. Similarly, “83% of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more personalized experience.” As a tactic, personalization can create strong bonds. It could be as simple as remembering the guest's name or offering a service they’ve used in the past. However, you can also take it further by proactively asking for their preferences via a survey and leveraging things they’ve mentioned (number of pillows, water brand preference, room temperature, etc.) for future stays. Enable effective communication. Communication is everything when it comes to managing new guests - and that doesn’t just mean externally. Not only do guests need to have an effective way to communicate with employees, but employees need to understand what their team is doing and how to ask for help when needed. In this case, opting for an omnichannel solution with internal messaging capabilities is key. Not only will it provide insight into guest communication preferences, but also allow you to tag and include other departments for visibility. More customers mean a greater chance of miscommunication, so adopting a solution that can provide greater transparency before bookings get out of control, can help you make the most out of a wave of guests. Flexible Policies. Although we’re navigating a space where strict requirements on COVID-19 are lessening, the virus is still prevalent and isolation is still required for those that are sick. Not to mention travel delays are currently on the rise and expected in the future. Offering flexible policies is a show of good faith in your guests. It exudes compassion for personal issues and instills trust. Although at times operationally, it may be challenging, offering flexible policies reinforces overall care for the guest and their experience. Final Thoughts Preparing for an influx of guests can be intimidating at first. Especially if you’re experiencing labour shortages. However, pivoting to effectively master the experience while juggling a handful of new guests is impossible. By taking the aforementioned steps to map the guest journey, empower your team and communicate effectively, you can proactively manage the influx of guests to streamline operations and provide an unforgettable experience.
How far do you want to take your career in hotel IT? If you have aspirations to make the leap from on-property to a corporate or regional role, then you’ll be inspired by the career trajectory of Jason Doebrich, the VP of Technology at Virgin Hotels. We had the chance to talk with Jason about his experiences working at several top hotel companies, serving in both on-premise and corporate roles. Jason offers some great advice for anyone looking to further their career in hotel IT and shares exciting anecdotes about his challenges and learnings along the way. After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in Information Science, Jason started his career as an IT manager at Morgans Hotel Group in Miami Beach. He worked on-property first, then became the Regional IT Director overseeing the Shore Club, Mondrian, and Delano. Jason’s next career move took him to Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, where was the on-site Director of IT at the Mandarin Oriental Miami for several years before earning a promotion to a regional role, in which he oversaw IT for all the Mandarin Oriental properties in the US as the Corporate Regional Director of IT. In 2022 Jason joined Virgin Hotels as their Vice President of Information Technology. As Jason explains, IT is a challenging and fast-paced career. In the hospitality industry, technology is a complex vertical, which involves building partnerships with technology vendors and thinking creatively to solve problems. Although some non-tech folks might think so, technology cannot solve every problem in hotels, so IT professionals need to work hard to implement technology seamlessly while also using critical thinking skills to figure out whether the problem at hand can be solved with people or process improvements.
Looking for a glimpse into the future of technology in the hospitality space? At Walt Disney World, the MagicBand is not only a handy device that allows visitors to skip the line. It’s also a stunning example of an innovative product that enhances the guest experience, sheds light on guest behavior, and uses technology to foster a closer connection to the brand. In this article, we’ll explore the features and functionality of the MagicBand, explain how it came to life, and study the benefits of technology like the MagicBand so you can start brainstorming ways you might incorporate similar tech into your own hotel or hospitality business.
Curious about sustainability and how the hotel industry can reverse the trajectory of climate change and global warming? It’s no secret that the travel industry is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon emissions - think of all those trains, planes, cars and ships. While hotels aren’t necessarily the biggest contributors, travelers who stay in our hotels are which it’s why it’s important that we do our part to make emissions reductions through energy efficiency, recycling and other initiatives on property starting with the initial development of our buildings. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “net zero targets” or the “Paris agreement” or maybe you’re new to the conversation about reducing emissions. As traveler preferences shift toward eco-friendly hotel options, and as the climate crisis becomes more urgent, hoteliers like you should start to investigate solutions for a more sustainable future for your property. Net zero is one framework for prioritizing and quantifying your environmental impact, and, in this article, we’ll explain how net zero is relevant and important for hotels around the world. By the end of the page, you’ll be able to begin formulating a plan for your own hotel to achieve net zero emissions.
Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, registration card, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, chat, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience. Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay Secondly, mobile services lead to a more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on-the-go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs. Optimizes the value per guest and targets their specific needs In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests’ specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers,- and re-bookings. What are guests really expecting from mobile hospitality? Guests want pre-arrival check-in and avoid reception queues. A study conducted by Ipsos and Aeroguest asked guests what characteristics they would value the most in their hotel experiences. We found out that Wi-fi and breakfast are essentials for every stay and in most cases could be deal-breakers. However, if we look into what mobile hospitably can add to the stay, then the best experience includes being able to check in earlier, check out later and cut these two steps shorter by avoiding queues and crowds in the reception, thus supporting a more convenient and contactless hotel stay. These are also the top two benefits that both business travelers and tech-savvy hotel guests are hoping their hotels will make available. QUESTION: CHOOSE THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES OF MOBILE HOSPITALITY (the size of the picture is proportional to the utility level. Only 11 features are shown, total utility sums to 100%) Guests are willing to pay to select their own room Having a room with a view and being able to select a specific room within the desired room type is also among the most valued features. This capability directly addresses another aspect that this study found guests to be unsatisfied with their hotel experiences. “When I book a room, I want to know what I am getting” This feature breaks the uncertainty factor and provides the choice and transparency needed when evaluating which hotel room to pick. Guests will know if the room meets their needs, where it is located, what view it has from the window, and if the requested extras have been acknowledged. This is another feature that mobile hospitality providers such as AeroGuest support, but not all hotels, web services, and apps give this opportunity to guests,- it is very difficult to build and has to be two-way integrated to multiple PMS across the world. An even more relevant aspect though, is that hotel guests are willing to pay to select their own room. 42% of hotel guests and almost 60% of business travelers would be likely or very likely to pay for choosing a specific room, and these would be willing to pay, on average, an extra 7% of the room price to choose their ideal room. QUESTION: HOW LIKELY WOULD YOU BE TO PAY EXTRA FOR CHOOSING A SPECIFIC ROOM BEFORE ARRIVAL? QUESTION: HOW MUCH WOULD YOU BE LIKELY TO PAY FOR CHOOSING YOU OWN ROOM? In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell of some completely new services such as room selection and adding extras before and during the stay and to better capture re-booking.
The adoption of mobile technologies has taken the fast lane ever since the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has halted the industry. As a response to the challenges of the pandemic, mobile travel solutions have emerged as an appealing option to re-affirm consumer confidence that safety can be maintained when traveling. It seems that the adoption of both effortless and touch-free mobile solutions will have a lasting impact. Even though the need for safety takes precedence during these times of fear, the need for convenience is the main driver and will last beyond the hype of the pandemic. Where is mobile hospitality headed? Mobile-enabled services are no longer an accessory in the hospitality industry to satisfy a niche need for speed or convenience for a narrow group of guests, but rather a necessity that enhances any guest’s travel experience. With or without a mobile strategy, every hotel owner should ask the following questions: What benefits are the growing mobile-centric hotel guests driven by? How should hotels adapt their services and where should they focus their attention to meet consumers’ expectations and needs in the hospitality service? Mobile hospitality is a win-win for both hotels and guests The main reason why hotel owners should consider a mobile strategy is to give the business more operational efficiency and offer guests a more customer-focused experience while saving time and space for higher-value tasks and strategic revenue management. For guests, mobile hospitality rests on two benefits, the increased convenience of effortless travel and touch-free experiences. Mobile-centric services make stays effortless and streamline the whole journey, thus improving the guest experiences First and foremost, an effortless journey will directly impact guests’ experience and satisfaction. Regardless of being a shorter or longer stay, for business or leisure, hotels work as an extension of our home. Likewise, to the same extent that we have the need to make our home lives convenient, functional, and comfortable, as hotel guests we expect just the same level of easiness. Mobile services are not only more streamlined than more traditional services, but they also have the power to connect the whole journey and several experiences seamlessly. How can hotel owners benefit from mobile hospitality? Mobile digital services improve operational efficiency while improving guests’ travel experiences. Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience. Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay. Secondly, mobile services lead to more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on the go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs. Optimizes the value per guest and target their specific needs. In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests' specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers. In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell some services such as room selection and adding extras during the stay to better capture late bookers.
AI Conversational Guest Messaging is quickly becoming a “must have” not only for premiere hoteliers, but for all sectors. Implementing Smart Guest Messaging has been documented to increase daily engagement of in-stay guests over 500%, from the historical 5%-10% via e-mail and web to above 50% via SMS, WhatsApp, etc. This leap in hotel guest communications at some hotels will foster in new guest expectations for most, if not all hotels. This conclusion is supported by the findings of HotelTech’s behavioral research published earlier this year. Within the audiences most important to hoteliers, 1) Text messages have a whopping 82% open rate 2) Over 80% of text messages are read within 5 minutes 3) 78% of texters say messaging is the fastest way to reach them. So, after experiencing the conveniences of smart guest messaging in one hotel, they are not likely to accept inconveniences in other hotels such as waiting in long lines, calling the front desk for everything, being put on hold, silencing their concerns, calling to make reservations, ordering room service, or even using a “communal” telephone in a post pandemic world.