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What Does a Night Auditor Do in a Hotel?

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 hours ago

If you’re considering a full time or part time night auditor job - or preparing to hire a night auditor - you’ve come to the right place. While many people are familiar with the job of a hotel front desk agent since it's during the day shift, the night auditor’s responsibilities aren’t as well known despite providing high paying entry-level positions at hotels. In this article, we’ll explain what a night auditor role entails, what skills will set you up for success as a night auditor, and offer advice for landing a night.

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Self Check-in Kiosks For Hotels: 2022 Hotel Kiosk Guide

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 hours ago

Are you grappling with a tighter budget at your hotel, a staffing shortage, or changing guest preferences toward contactless options? The hospitality industry is more resource constrained than ever and you're not alone. It can be challenging to deliver a high standard of service when faced with constraints like reduced hotel staff due to rising labor costs. However, the guest experience doesn’t need to suffer if you have fewer employees or less face-to-face interaction. Self-service options like check-in kiosks can bring a slew of benefits to guests, employees, and hotel owners and managers. Everyone knows that first impressions determine the majority of our perceptions about brands and people - the check-in experience is no different and it's highly correlated with overall customer satisfaction. In this article, we’ll explain what a self check-in kiosk can do, how it plays into the contactless hotel trend, and we’ll show you how your hotel can achieve better guest satisfaction scores, higher profitability, and greater productivity by implementing self check-in kiosks.

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Top Hotel Management Software in 2022

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 hours ago

During the HotelTechAwards, hoteliers from the world's leading hotel companies review the top tech products used at their hotels to increase operating efficiency, drive revenue, and improve the guest experience. This data is used to identify the best hotel tech products and organizations.

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How Hotel Tech Can Help with Labor Shortages

by
Sarah Duguay
3 hours ago

As travel opens up, so comes a surge of travel. Pent-up desire for holidays has resulted in what some are calling ‘revenge travel.’ After some hesitation, hoteliers are reporting more demand than ever since the beginning of the pandemic. This has resulted in a challenging scenario. Before COVID-19, the hospitality industry was no stranger to employee retention and acquisition issues. But suddenly, faced with low bookings, many hotels had to make the difficult decision to lay off staff. Fast forward to today, some hotels have been forced to turn away guests because of even greater staff shortages than before. While theories abound about shortages, accompanied by HR strategies to attract new hotel employees, we’re here to remind you to take a deep breath because hotel tech is here to help! Tried and true, existing hotel tech can help your hotel with labor shortages by making operations more efficient and less time-consuming while improving the guest experience.   PMS Features and Integrations Alleviate Hotel Labor Shortages According to Revinate, 95% of hoteliers are facing a staff shortage while occupancy is experiencing record highs. One hotel in their report said their shortage has them operating with only 70-75% of their staffing levels. This is the norm, not the outlier, in today’s market. But, as many independent hotels learned during the pandemic, those with a cloud-based property management system (PMS) already have a leg-up on their ability to streamline operations and maximize staff. Because, as the name implies, cloud-based PMS exist in the ‘cloud’ (they run online), operators can manage their hotels from anywhere at any time. Hotel managers no longer need to drop everything and dash back to the hotel to deal with accounting issues or make rate changes. Front-desk duties, such as group management and availability calendars, or back-office tasks, like rate management and financials, are all at your fingertips, wherever you are.   Automation. Nothing streamlines operations like automated systems! At the heart of operations, the PMS automatically coordinates reservations, inventory and availability, housekeeping, and reporting, centralizing data to streamline front- and back-office tasks. For example, instead of manually sending routine emails to guests, set up and send templated emails from your PMS automatically based on defined triggers for booking confirmation, pre-arrival, check-in and post-stay communications, waitlists, group bookings, rental agreements, and more.  A cloud PMS is easily integrated with your other hotel systems — including payment gateways, OTAs, point-of-sale systems, locking systems, CRMs, and revenue management software, etc. — to automatically share relevant reservation data with those systems so that staff don’t have to manually re-enter information into multiple systems. System integration with your PMS at the core is an important part of automating processes and maximizing efficiency.   Self Check-in: Let guests jump the queue with online registration and self check-ins — saving you time and resources in the process. Typically, hotel guest check-ins — with forms to sign and policies to review — take around five minutes per guest and often result in queues, occupying your front desk staff and frustrating guests. By moving this process online, all agreements, waivers, screening, and guest information collection is completed online by your guests in advance of arriving at the hotel, improving the guest experience by not having to wait in a physical queue, while simultaneously saving staff a lot of time! With automated email or SMS communications, payment gateway and mobile key integration, the entire check-in process can be automated.   Rate Management: Flexible rate management tools make monitoring and adjusting pricing a cinch, from creating group discounts and package rates to instant overrides. Yield management functionality allows you to automatically adjust prices based on predetermined occupancy rules — talk about a time saver! If you haven’t already added a commission-free online booking engine (OBE) to your property’s website, this is your first order of business. Integrated with the PMS, reservations made by guests using the OBE are automatically updated in the PMS, and live rates and availability are always displayed online. Not only will you save valuable employee time from taking reservations by phone and email but today’s guests expect (and many even prefer) to book online. While OTAs are a great way for guests to find you and book online, why not offer your own online bookings and save on commissions? Speaking of OTAs, you’ll also save time by integrating your OTA channels or channel manager with your PMS to synchronize live inventory, rates and availability across channels, instead of managing each separately. Plus, all reservations coming through your channel partners are automatically updated in your PMS so no matter where guests book, they always have access to up-to-date availability. Integrating your PMS with your online distribution channels is a must for maximizing time and preventing overbooking.    Housekeeping reports: While a PMS cannot perform housekeeping duties, it can make housekeeping processes more efficient, which is essential with a lean staff. With a mobile housekeeping report, staff can check their housekeeping schedule using their own mobile phones, to see which rooms are vacated and ready to be cleaned and to mark rooms as clean as they go, adding housekeeping notes and maintenance alarms as required. The front desk is kept in the loop in real time with the same system. Furthermore, checklists for each room keep staff on track to ensure nothing is overlooked — because as you know, when it comes to cleanliness, guest standards are higher than ever before due to the pandemic.   Mobile keys: Keyless entry is an elegant accompaniment to online registrations and check-ins. While it may seem small, keyless entry technology removes the headache of keys altogether, whether it’s actual keys or cards. No more sanitizing, organizing, re-setting, or distributing. With keyless entry system integration with your PMS, guests can simply unlock their room door with their mobile device. Along with online check-ins, keyless entry integration allows guests to bypass the front desk altogether! Imagine no guest lineups at the designated check-in time and no key drop-offs at check-out. Did we just hear a sigh of relief?   Save time, resources, and money by employing smart room technologies. Allowing guests to adjust room temperature and lighting with their phones puts comfort into the palm of their hands. Better still, IoT offers the ultimate in personalization with room light levels that adjust with the time of day, and keeps the room temperature at exactly the right level — automatically. This kind of efficiency decreases demand on housekeeping and maintenance teams and helps with your sustainability initiatives.    Chatbots: Hotel Chatbots are an excellent way to assist your online guests 24/7 without any extra effort from staff. Integrated with your hotel's website and/or within your guest messaging app, an AI or rules-based chatbot can assist guests with booking, requests, FAQs, upsells, and local recommendations. Younger generations are the most comfortable seeking help from chatbots, with many guests preferring to search for answers this way than connecting with a real human — which frees up your human employees for in-person help.   Robot room service: A couple of years ago, robot room service was exclusively seen as a novelty service to delight guests. But in the age of COVID-19, it’s obvious to see the practical utility of employing robots by reducing human contact (and thus germs) and by reducing the need for bellhops. Because labor shortage is a trend that existed even before the pandemic hit, perhaps investing in robot room service is no longer pie in the sky. Isn’t technology an amazing thing? Instead of providing a lack of care or impersonal service (a common fear about using technology), today’s hotel tech provides hoteliers with a way to upgrade the guest experience even in the face of decreased staffing. If your property does not have one already, a robust and innovative cloud PMS like WebRezPro can set you on the path toward hospitality excellence and higher revenue, not to mention less stress.  

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QR Code Menus: A Step-By-Step Guide for Hotels & Restaurants

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 hours ago

Searching for ways to engage with guests in the post-pandemic world? Looking to streamline your restaurant operations? Or just curious to dig into the data and learn more about your customers’ ordering behavior? QR code menus offer solutions for all of these needs, and they’re rapidly growing in popularity in all types of hospitality businesses, from hotels and restaurants to concert venues and sports arenas. Perhaps you’ve even used a contactless menu as a customer! QR code menus bring a lot of benefits that physical menus don't provide, so you might be wondering how you can implement them in your own business. The restaurant industry (and hospitality in general) has undergone a massive digital transformation in the wake of the pandemic but these are not short lived trends - they are long term shifts in how we do business. This article offers everything you need to know about QR code menus; we’ll explain the upsides and downsides, and walk you through the implementation process. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to launch your own QR code menu strategy.   What is a QR Code Menu? Let’s start by defining what exactly is a QR code menu. A QR code menu is a digital menu which you can access by scanning a QR code with your smartphone. When you scan the QR code, your smartphone will open a webpage where your menu is hosted. Many restaurants place QR codes directly on tabletops, on small paper cards, or on plastic placards. A hotel could display a QR code on the front desk or somewhere in every guestroom. Each QR code directs to a unique webpage, so, for example, you could configure one QR code to direct to your lunch menu and another to direct to your dinner menu. Unlike traditional paper menus, digital QR code menus can offer functionality besides simply showing menu items, such as the ability to pay or submit feedback. And these digital menus can deliver a slew of benefits for restaurant owners, managers, staff, and guests that make them a nice upgrade from paper menus.   Key Benefits of QR Code Menus Why would a restaurateur forgo paper menus for QR code menus? Let’s explore the most compelling benefits that these tech-enabled menus can provide. Easy to modify: One reason that restaurateurs love working with digital menus is that any menu changes can be completed with just a few clicks and published immediately. Run out of a menu item? You can simply hide it from the digital menu. Need to fix a typo? No need to reprint the menus. Want to adjust pricing based on day of week and meal period? That’s all possible with digital menus.  Beautiful and strategic menu design: In addition to seamless changes, QR code menus are designed to be as easy to read as possible, and you can take advantage of promotional tools that let you highlight specials or recommended pairings. Safe and contactless: In light of the pandemic, customer preferences have shifted overwhelmingly toward contactless options, and restaurant menus are no exception. Customers don’t want to touch the same paper menu that other guests have just handled. QR codes let your customers access the menu while only touching their own smartphone. Cost- and time-savings: When your staff don’t need to print and organize paper menus, they will have more time to interact with customers or take care of other side work. In addition, QR code menus enable quicker turnover of tables since  More eco-friendly: Are your guests conscious of their impact on the environment? Unlike paper menus which must be thrown away after use or anytime the menu changes, digital menus have no environmental consequences.  Faster service: In a quick-service restaurant setting where customers order at a counter, or at a busy bar, QR code menus can enable customers to browse the menu at their own pace without needing to interact with a server first. Eliminating the need to ask for a menu can accelerate the speed of service. Collection of customer data: Some digital menu platforms come with a suite of analytical features. You might be curious to see how much time customers spend on each menu page, or perhaps you want to test a few variations of photos, formatting, or menu descriptions. Digital menus can offer insight into customer behavior in ways paper menus cannot.   Considerations for QR Code Menu Decisions It’s important to note that QR code menus are not the perfect solution for every business. Before deciding to switch away from paper menus, you’ll want to think carefully about some possible downsides. First, in some restaurants, paper menus are part of the experience. A Michelin-starred establishment might want to continue using high-quality paper menus while crafting a romantic ambiance with no smartphones in sight. In this case, QR code menus would actually detract from the experience. In addition, if your restaurant guests aren’t very tech-savvy, or if your restaurant doesn’t have a strong cell signal, then QR code menus might cause more problems than they solve. In addition, be mindful that introducing any new feature, like digital menus, will require training and at least a few days to get accustomed to the system, so you probably don’t want to launch your QR code menu during peak periods.   How to Implement QR Code Menus If the benefits of QR codes sound appealing to you and you’re excited about using them in your venue, you’re probably wondering where to start. Let’s outline the process to implement QR code menus, starting from the beginning. Decide what functionality you need. QR code menu platforms range from simple to complex. Is your restaurant a no-frills counter-serve joint that only has a few menu options? Maybe a simple QR code menu would be best. Or maybe your restaurant has several different menus for different day parts, and you’re interested in as much analytical muscle as possible. Then you might want to opt for a cutting-edge digital menu system with all the bells and whistles that offers integrations with your other on-site software. Do you need a POS integration, PMS integration or just mobile wallet and credit card processing checkout.  Different mobile ordering systems serve different use cases.  Regardless of the dining experience at your establishment you should be thinking about digital menus as a strategy and not just an online menu PDF. Understand your budget. How much do you want to spend? The most basic QR code tools are free, or you can pay a monthly subscription or small percentage of sales for more robust functionality.  With free QR code menus typically  you get what you pay for (or don't).  PDF food menus typically mean that you can't save cost on labor, can't monetize through highly profitable digital upsells.  In most use cases more premium partners have very strong ROIs - just look at what industry sweethearts like Sweetgreen, Dominos and Starbucks have been able to do by investing in digital. Choose a system. Once you’ve decided what you’re looking for, it’s time to choose a software vendor. If you’re going the low-cost "cheap and dirty" route, you might opt for Eater.Menu or HappyTable. For more sophisticated mobile ordering technology with integrations and checkout/payments via contactless QR code menus, you’ll want to look into Bbot, Crave, and RoomOrders. Each system has a slightly different user experience, so we recommend taking advantage of some free demos to try a system before you buy it. Create your menus. Now for the fun part! You can now start building your digital menus. You’ll want to add menu item descriptions, pricing, and upload photos if the system allows. You might want to create separate menus for different meal periods, drinks, desserts, and more. Some systems let you highlight special offers or seasonal menu items, so you can leverage some marketing tactics. Other systems might simply prompt you to upload a PDF menu. Train your staff. Before putting your QR codes into the wild, you’ll want to train your staff so they are familiar with the system and can help guests use it. For example, if a guest is less tech-savvy, your staff should be able to help them access the menu. In addition, you can train managers on the process for making updates to the menu. Display your QR codes. Customers can only scan your QR codes if they can find them, so you’ll want to show the codes in convenient, obvious spots, like on tabletops or inserts within plastic displays. Modify your menu as needed. After launch, anytime you need to make menu changes, you just need to update the digital version. Eager to bring QR code menus to your hotel, restaurant, or venue? There’s no better time to give customers a safe, contactless, and user-friendly way to access your menu.

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30+ Stats that Show Hotel Self Check-in Kiosks are the Way of the Future

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 hours ago

Searching for a way to handle more check-ins with fewer staff members? Or seeking to take on-property experience to the next level with shorter wait times and technology that will dazzle your guests? The future of hospitality is a lot closer than you might think: self check-in kiosks are becoming more popular, and when we look at statistics from airline, retail, and restaurant industries, it’s easy to see why. Across a variety of settings from quick-service restaurants to supermarkets to sports stadiums, self-service and tech-driven solutions can drive results like reduced wait times, higher order values, and overall satisfaction. In this article, we’ll show how self-service and contactless technology can elevate not only the consumer experience, but also the experience as a hotel guest. Self-service options in hotels can include not only check-in kiosks, but also a range of contactless options like digital room keys and tap-to-pay technology. By the end of this article, you’ll be excited about the benefits your hotel can realize by adopting self check-in kiosks or similar tech features. After introducing automated passport control kiosks at customs control points, both JFK and Newark Airports saw a 22% decrease in wait times from 2013 to 2014. During the same timeframe, other airports that did not install kiosks saw no decrease in wait times. This trend can be translated into the hotel industry, meaning that self-service options can make any type of check-in process more efficient, and shorter wait times generally boost guest satisfaction. A 2019 study found that, in quick service restaurants, 30% of customers preferred to order from a kiosk rather than a cashier if lines were equal length. In restaurants, customers have quickly adapted to tech-enabled, self-service options, which shows that hotel guests would likely be quick to adopt self-service options too. 49.4% of retail customers use self-service checkouts because they find the experience to be faster, while 34.7% use them because they have shorter lines, according to a survey by PYMTS. Like shoppers, hotel guests may prefer to arrive or depart your hotel at their own pace. When the Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles installed kiosks to handle concessions orders, average order value increased by 20%. If your hotel is seeking to increase average check at your F&B outlets or boost conversion on add-ons like late check-out, kiosks could be a great solution to help you achieve those goals. Nearly 50% of supermarket customers say they use self check-out options on at least 75% of their shopping trips, while a further 30% say they opt for self check-out on about half of shopping trips. Like in restaurants, consumers show a preference for kiosks, but it’s important to note that there will always be exceptions. In hotels, we can expect some guests to still prefer interacting with a front desk agent, even if a majority go for self-service options. Two-thirds of consumers who use self checkout options choose self checkout because they believe it to be faster than a standard cashier check-out lane. When guests are in a hurry, they might get frustrated if the only option to check in or out is to wait in a long line of other guests. These guests may prefer a faster self-service option. According to a 2019 study, younger consumers show a stronger preference for self-service checkout options than their baby boomer counterparts; 59% of 18- to 34-year-olds reported using self checkouts regularly, while 39% of 55- to 65-year-old reported using them regularly. If your hotel is trying to engage a younger demographic, self-service solutions for checking in and out can be a great way to deliver the experience this group desires. COVID-19 accelerated a widespread shift away from cash payments and toward contactless payments via ApplePay and GooglePay. A survey conducted by Rapyd found that 60% of consumers plan on using contactless methods instead of cash, which, for hoteliers, means guests can check themselves and pay for their stays on a kiosk, rather than relying on front desk staff to handle cash. Contactless payment isn’t just growing in popularity in the US; a recent Mastercard study showed that 79% of consumers worldwide, and 91% in the Asia-Pacific region, opt for tap-to-go payment methods instead of physical cards or cash. Hotels that welcome many international travelers, especially those traveling from Asia, can meet the preferences and expectations of these travelers by offering contactless payment options. In the same Mastercard study, a majority of respondents cited cleanliness as the main reason for their preference toward contactless payments. In your hotel, guests can feel more comfortable checking in and out if they can use contactless methods instead of handing their credit cards to a front desk agent to swipe. Citing COVID-19 as the impetus for a shift in payment preferences, a 2020 McKinsey study found that 78% of Amercians use some type of digital payment, such as digital wallets (ApplePay, etc.), in-app purchases, or scanning a QR code to pay. This statistic is important for hoteliers because it shows that consumers are comfortable using digital payments like what a self-service kiosk would require. 65% of consumers feel that contactless methods align with their priorities for health and safety. Hotel guests are already conscious of cleanliness initiatives at your property, so offering a contactless way to check in and out can make guests feel even more comfortable during their stays. 34% of consumers say that contactless options will continue to be important after the pandemic is over, showing that contactless solutions like kiosks are here to stay. As a hotelier, if you’re on the fence about investing in kiosks now, know that they will stay relevant even after the pandemic is no longer a concern. Contactless payment methods are quickly becoming widespread in hotels; in a 2020 study, 43% of hoteliers had already implemented contactless payment options on-site.  In restaurants, the common rule of thumb is that one self-service ordering kiosk can handle the same volume as 1.5 cashiers could. Translating this statistic to a hotel context, if you were to add two check-in kiosks to your front desk, you could either eliminate the need to hire three front desk agents, or you could redistribute the responsibilities of those three front desk agents to other tasks or departments. According to a roundup of self-service success stories in Harvard Business Review, Taco Bell’s average order value increased by 20% after the chain implemented in-app ordering. Taco Bell said the reason for the increase was because customers were more likely to order add-ons. In hotels, this same trend could appear; hotel guests may be more likely to purchase upgrades or add-ons like late checkout via a self-service platform than at the front desk. But it’s not only restaurants that saw growth in order value; after Cinemark launched self-service kiosks in their theatres, concession sales per person grew consistently for 32 quarters (as of 2015). This statistic makes it obvious that the benefits of self-service ordering aren’t confined to restaurant technology, so hoteliers like you can be confident you’ll also find guests to spend more money on property if self-service options are available. A study conducted by Oracle Hospitality found that sports fans were happy to spend an additional $20 on food and drinks if they could spend half as long in line. In hotels, we can expect that guests would be more likely to order a drink at the lobby bar or splurge on an upgrade if they didn’t have to wait so long in the line at the front desk; self-service kiosks can shorten those lengthy wait times. At McDonald’s and other quick-service restaurants, order accuracy is higher for orders placed on a kiosk compared to orders placed with a cashier. In your hotel, requests submitted via a digital platform like a kiosk or app can be handled more accurately than those submitted over the phone or by guests walking up to a busy front desk, where staff could easily forget to write it down or follow through. Consumers don’t just want to pay for purchases in a self-service way, but also get answers. A recent study by SOTI showed that 70% of consumers expect a self-service method to resolve questions and complaints. This is a powerful statistic for hoteliers, since it shows guests don’t always need to head to a front desk agent to find resolution; with a kiosk or other self-service option, guests could resolve their own complaints. Furthermore, guests with simpler questions could handle them self-service, while front desk agents would have more time to tackle trickier situations. Servion Global Services predicts that artificial intelligence will power 95% of customer service interactions by 2025. For hoteliers, this means that guests will become accustomed to interacting with kiosks, chatbots, or similar tech-powered services in all other aspects of their lives, and they’ll expect the same standard in hotels. Artificial intelligence is already quickly becoming a regular part of our daily lives; in 2018 just 21% of people interacted with AI daily, while in 2020 a whopping 54% of people reported daily interactions with AI. These numbers show not only consumers’ growing comfort with AI and self-service technology, but also just how fast technology is adopted by the public. Hoteliers can be confident that people will continue to expect more tech-powered options in the near future. According to McKinsey, businesses could free up 69% of their time by automating data processing tasks. Front desk agents, for example, spend hours swiping credit cards, inputting contact information, and compiling reports. A self-service kiosk could automate many of these tasks, enabling front desk agents to focus on more meaningful guest interactions. After the widespread rollout of ATMs, the number of bank teller positions decreased, but the job was not eliminated completely. Between 2020 and 2030 the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 17% fewer tellers will be needed. This shows that technology doesn’t make human interactions totally irrelevant, so even if your hotel adopts kiosks, there will still be opportunity for front desk agents to build relationships with guests, although you may benefit from lower labor costs. Bank customers who use a self-service kiosk can do their banking activities with a 13.5x shorter wait time than those who work with a teller. The average wait time for a teller is 9 minutes, while kiosk wait times are around 40 seconds. In hotels, guests could also enjoy significantly shorter wait times if they use a self-service kiosk to check in or out. McDonald’s predicted that rolling out kiosks in their restaurants would boost sales by 5 to 6% in the first year. Hoteliers should note that in addition to a likely increase in guest satisfaction, kiosks can deliver revenue growth because consumers tend to spend more money on transactions handled on a kiosk. McDonald’s found that their customers tend to spend more time perusing menu options at a kiosk versus when standing in front of the cashier, and with this extra “dwell time,” customers are more likely to order additional menu items or add-ons, increasing average check size. Hoteliers could realize the same benefits; guests might want a little extra time to read about upgrade options before deciding to buy the upgrade. People are more likely to make “hedonistic” and experiential purchases on a touchscreen, a 2017 study found. A combination of the tactile nature of touchscreen use and consumers’ thinking styles makes us associate touchscreens with fun. When hotel guests are on vacation, they’re already in the experiential mindset, so offering touchscreen options (like kiosks or tablets) for upgrades or room service orders can increase purchase volume. The global market for self-service kiosks in all industries grew by 11.8% between 2019 and 2020, showing that even though the pandemic depressed outlooks for many industries, businesses are continuing to adopt self-service kiosks. For hoteliers, now is a great time to jump on the self-service kiosk trend and realize the revenue-boosting and cost-saving benefits. Hoteliers are already planning for the future of self-service functionality. In a 2020 survey, 27% of hoteliers had already implemented or were in process of implementing self check-in options, and a further 42% were planning to add self check-in in the future. Ready to bring your check-in operations to the next level? By implementing self-service kiosks or similar tech-enabled solutions, you can boost guest satisfaction, decrease wait times, and increase incremental revenue at your hotel.

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ALICE Front of House: An Integrated Guest Services and Communication Platform

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 hours ago

As a hotelier, you know that the process to deliver excellent service is very different today than it was just a few years ago. In the pre-COVID era, perhaps your hotel was buzzing with business travelers, and you had plenty of staff available to assist with any guest request. Contactless service wasn’t the norm yet, so your staff had to be hands-on with everything from check-in to check-out. You might have even had a full team of front desk agents, concierges, and PBX operators with clearly defined roles. Fast forward to today, and your hotel probably looks and feels very different. Business travel hasn’t fully rebounded yet, and it might never reach pre-2020 levels. Your hotel is likely relying on a larger share of leisure guests, who can be more demanding than the corporate road warriors. Your team is probably smaller too; many hotels were forced to downsize and streamline roles when the pandemic hit. Now that hoteliers are hiring again, many can’t fill their open roles due to workforce shortages. And the way you deliver service has changed. Guests today are less comfortable with face-to-face interaction, so your hotel might be trying to pivot toward contactless, tech-forward solutions for communication and operations. How can your hotel adapt to and thrive amid these new challenges and expectations? We spoke with ​​Dmitry Koltunov, ALICE’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, and got a sneak peek into ALICE’s new Front of House, an integrated solution for front-of-house staff like front desk agents and concierges. In hotels where staff wear many hats and juggle more tasks than ever, ALICE’s new solution can help front office teams deliver five-star service, communicate efficiently, and even drive profitability. How does it work? Let’s explore ALICE Front of House.   ALICE Front of House at a Glance All-in-one communication and task management platform that combines functionality for front desk agents, PBX operators, and concierges in one central place Messaging tool for social media, SMS, and in-app communication, eliminating the need to monitor multiple inboxes Ticketing system for internal requests to ensure follow-through Concierge-style database of local recommendations and branded itinerary-building tools Logs to understand and track each step in the guest journey Opportunities to drive ancillary revenue, upgrades, and upsells to increase profitability  Technology to enable staff to deliver high-touch, personalized service in a more efficient manner   All-in-One Solution for Front Office Staff If your staff handles communication with guests in one (or more) systems, guest requests in another, and concierge activities in yet another system, then you might appreciate the structure of ALICE Front of House. The software combines these three functions into one platform that can manage all front office activities. ALICE Front of House offers functionality for front desk agents, PBX, and concierges, but even if your hotel doesn’t have those distinct roles, you’ll still find value in it. The system is designed for hotels with limited staff who need to perform a variety of duties throughout their shifts, such as actioning a guest’s request for more towels, booking a restaurant reservation, and responding to a text from a future guest.. ALICE recognizes that the front desk experience is evolving, and guests expect to get high-quality service from anywhere in the hotel. And, they expect it to be delivered virtually - not only from a staff member behind the physical front desk. ALICE Front of House is built to free guest services from the confines of the front desk; with this system, front desk staff can fulfill requests submitted from guests’ smartphones, respond to social media and SMS messages, and help a guest purchase tour tickets while chatting with them on the pool deck.   Comprehensive Inbox for all Messaging Channels ALICE Front of House allow your staff to communicate with guests across all channels in one consolidated inbox. The inbox can handle SMS, social media, and messages sent from within the guest-facing ALICE dashboard. Users can see full conversation history allowing conversations to continue seamlessly across shifts and communication channels. Teams don’t need to worry about forgetting to respond to a message.   Ticketing System Turn Conversations into Tasks In studying usage of ALICE’s existing guest messaging tool, the team noticed that messages from guests often required follow-up by another department. As Dmitry explains, “guests were no longer simply asking for information about the hotel. A messaging conversation would usually lead to a request being made, and effectively delivering on that request would make or break the guest experience.” ALICE Front of House leverages ALICE Service Delivery as a ticketing module for efficient task management and accountability. For example, if a guest sends a message to request extra coffee pods in their room, the front desk agent who receives that message can create a task for the housekeeping team to deliver the coffee pods to the guest’s room. The housekeeping team receives the request and acts on it, and the housekeeper who completed the request marks it as complete in the system. The front desk team can also receive a notification that the task has been completed so they can inform the guest. Without such a system in place, the front desk agent might need to call or radio the housekeeping team about the request, opening an opportunity for human error or miscommunications. ALICE Front of House ensures follow-through and stores task data for reporting purposes, too.   Allow Any Staff Member to Deliver Concierge Services Although many hotels have scaled down concierge service in the wake of the pandemic, guests still crave tailored service and assistance planning their trips. Dmitry notes that “concierge services in hotels are still in demand, but asynchronous messaging is becoming the new luxury. People still want to feel like they are being cared for, but they do not want that to affect their personal time or space.” Guests want to be in control of how and when they interact with staff. They don’t want to have to pick up the phone or wait in line at the front desk. To satisfy these new guest preferences, ALICE Front of House enables any staff member to provide concierge services and lets staff help multiple guests at one time through asynchronous communication. ALICE’s Guest Services module houses a database of local recommendations and integrations with OpenTable and Local. This module can also produce branded itineraries, which staff can easily send via the messaging module through the guest’s preferred communication channel. By giving staff members the tools to curate a personalized itinerary and communicate with guests how and when they prefer, you can foster deeper relationships with guests and increase overall satisfaction at your property.   Logs Provide Insight into Each Step of the Guest Experience As you can see from the Guest Messaging, Guest Services, and Service Delivery modules of ALICE Front of House, the guest journey involves many different touchpoints and interactions with several staff members. How can you see a bird’s-eye view of the guest’s stay? The logs created in ALICE Front of House can give you an accurate picture of the guest experience from beginning to end. Not only is this data important for analytical purposes, like to study how many requests your team completes on a weekly basis, but you can also pinpoint where and why a guest might have had a subpar experience, so that you can improve for future stays. For instance, if a guest left a negative review after check-out because they were upset that nobody replaced the broken TV in their room, you could review the messages exchanged between the guest and your team and learn that no rooms with the same bed types were available to move the guest to, so your front desk manager offered the guest a $50 F&B credit as compensation for the inconvenience. Without an integrated system to track these types of messages and requests, it would be much harder to find opportunities for improvement and trends in the guest experience.   Revenue-Boosting Tools for Upgrades and Upsells Responding to guest messages might seem like simple administrative work, but ALICE Front of House shows that you can actually leverage guest messaging as a tool to capture incremental revenue. As demonstrated in their case study with Clarion Hotel The Hub in Oslo, Norway, ALICE proved that strategic use of messages can lead to an uplift not only in revenue, but also in loyalty and review scores. In the midst of the pandemic, The Hub started sending personalized text messages after guests arrived to ask if they needed anything to make their stay more enjoyable. The Hub’s team created special add-on packages, like a Date Night package with a bottle of wine and a Lazy Mornings package with breakfast delivery, which guests could purchase. Over the course of the summer months of 2020, after implementing this strategy, The Hub had generated $1.3 million in ancillary revenue through these packages, which were only advertised via SMS.   Deliver High-Touch and Personalized Service A common misconception about implementing technology in hotels is that technology will totally replace warm, personalized service. Actually, the opposite is true! When hotels use technology like ALICE Front of House, staff can deliver better service because they can manage guest relationships and interactions more efficiently. Dmitry explains that “there is a massive opportunity for hotels in getting this right. Rather than automating the relationship, there is an opportunity to deepen it.” By leveraging tools like guest messaging and request assignments, your staff can ensure nothing slips through the cracks and that every guest enjoys seamless service from pre-arrival to post-stay. As you work through staff shortages, budget constraints, and changing guest expectations, technology can also help your staff do more with less. Curious to see how ALICE Front of House can enhance your guest experience? Give it a try today.   This content was created collaboratively by ALICE and Hotel Tech Report

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Exploring Long-Stay Travel in a Post-Pandemic Remote Work World

by
Sandra Holland
3 hours ago

For hotels, 2020 felt like a seemingly endless year.   Aside from plummeting room stays and a major hit on hoteliers’ bottom lines, the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the entirety of hospitality and the experience customers have come to expect.  In the new year, resuming operations then becomes an opportunity to pivot strategy and identify upcoming trends. In particular, the increase of long-stay travellers is a trend that has shaped many facets of the hospitality sphere today. With the ability to work remotely and a desire for new and engaging environments - honing in on long-stay guests shows a promising return. In this article, we share the best practices hoteliers can use to propel hotel offerings in order to meet changing customer expectations and encourage new bookings with long-stay travellers.   Keep Comfort Top Of Mind For many long-stay guests, your hotel will become their home away from home. The level of comfort and safety they feel will translate into their level of satisfaction. As you strategize your hotel reopening, keep comfort and “home-stay” top of mind. Consider open-concept spaces with cozy decor, adequate lighting, personal touches in guest rooms, and more. Not only will a cozy atmosphere create a warm invite for long-stay guests, but consistent comfort and a friendly ambiance encourages retention.   Attentive & Available Staff Employees hold a prominent role in the overall satisfaction of your guests - after all, they interact with your hotel patrons daily.  As you resume operations with an increased capacity, make sure you have enough staff to effectively care for the number of guest inquiries. Your employees should be enthusiastic about coming to work, readily available on multiple channels of communication and equipped with the knowledge to answer guest questions. In most instances, long-stay guests will be travelling from abroad. Therefore it’s important that employees make the adjustment to their new surroundings seamless. Be proactive and have your employees offer information such as; the nearest bus station, proximity to grocery stores, parking facilities, and more. In addition, be ready for questions on an array of channels. WhatsApp for example is the largest messaging app in the world and holds preference with the majority of international travellers. Having employees available on WhatsApp can make connecting simple whether on or off the property.   Offer A Functional Experience It’s evident that the needs of a short stay guest are vastly different than a long-stay one. While a short-stay guest might prefer a swimming pool or excursion recommendations, long-stay guests will look for more practical features in their accommodation. Functional traits like a kitchenette in-room, having a desk where they can work, parking spaces, pet-friendly accommodations, and sufficient outlets should all be considered. In addition to generic qualities, you should also consider the average guest and things they would look for. For instance, if students make up most of your long-stay travellers, offer accessible WiFi. If your long-stay guests are made up of workers, offer complimentary coffee in the morning or accessible outlets throughout the property. It’s important to keep in mind that while having the latest and greatest is nice, long-stay travellers prefer simple qualities that make the experience functional for living their everyday lives.   Customer-Driven & Long Term Advocacy  When it comes down to it, running a successful hotel requires a customer-focused mindset.  Getting to know the customer and understanding the preferences that can make or break the experience.  Especially at the height of COVID-19, being more conscious of policies and making amendments to specific hotel regulations is key. For instance, in a recent study, it was reported that “those travelling for work, including remote work, expressed strong preferences for what they want, [including] flexible cancellation options, that offer the ability to extend their stay and that offer flexible 24/7 check-in”. While we highlight flexible policies as a primary consideration, your individual property will also have more specific guest preferences. To discover what you should offer or modify, make it a point to converse with guests regularly, ask for feedback and send surveys to understand particular needs. When you understand the guest, you can then focus on the traits that enhance the experience, such as; Day passes to a nearby coworking space for professionals, discounted bus passes for students, free childcare for families and discounts on excursions.   Provide Co-Working Accommodations Since the majority of long-stay travellers are the result of flexible work environments, a critical consideration should be the implementation of co-working spaces or communal lounges. This can be as simple as modifying current spaces in your hotel to include desks, or as complex as renovating an entire space. In addition to this, gestures such as offering comfortable desks with outlets, swivel television monitors, rentable office spaces, complimentary pens and paper stacks, printing services and more can make all the difference in guest satisfaction.   Customer Conscious Amenities  Even before the pandemic, amenities had always played a crucial role in hotel selection and guest satisfaction. Both for short-stay and long-stay guests, it’s important to get an overall understanding of what customers look for and what can sway their booking. One obvious but very critical amenity offering includes a strong WiFi connection. According to eHotelier, “WiFi is one of the main factors in selecting a property”. Most long-term travellers are working from their room or frequently connecting with family and friends, so it’s important that your WiFi can sustain video calls. Health and wellness is also a growing trend in the present and post-COVID era. Consider elevating your gym and ensuring it’s maintained. Encourage usage with free passes, a coupon for a smoothie at a local shop or classes that keep customers engaged. Lastly, complimentary breakfast and parking have always been top amenities for swaying a guest booking. However, you can still go the extra mile. Ask your guests what breakfast meals they prefer and switch between preferences. Offer visitor parking for friends and colleagues or share popular restaurants and cafes nearby. When you add a personal touch, you improve satisfaction and increase the likelihood of repeat visits.   Final Thoughts COVID-19 has undoubtedly shaped the world of hospitality as we know it. Changing customer preferences, provoking more effective operations and encouraging more modern and health-friendly technology. And as more and more people vie for a change in environment, the desire for more long-stay accommodations is here to stay. Catering to this cohort then becomes integral to encourage new bookings and boosting bottom lines. As you move through the motions of the post-pandemic world, remember to account for the customer experience. Revaluation and modifications to hotel strategies are part of the process and will help you evolve for a more sustainable future.