Tech-savvy guests are returning to hotels and now, more than ever, they are expecting their technological and personalized service demands to be met.
In the last two years, we’ve doubled down on our digital lives and personalization has become the new expectation from consumers across many industries. Today’s travelers want their experiences to be tailored to them, setting the expectations for each touchpoint to be uniquely personalized. Great experiences are no longer a “nice to have” —they are a necessity. It can be challenging for hoteliers to keep up with travelers’ technological demands.
What is powering this disruptive technology? Smartphones, on-demand apps, and social media are powering the change in guest behaviors. According to a PwC study, 1 in 3 customers will walk away, even from a brand they love, after just one bad experience, with 54 percent of consumers saying that most companies need to improve their customer experience. With digital technologies, brands not only have to keep up with evolving customer behaviors, they also must explore new ways to deliver significant value throughout the guest journey. Three ways savvy hoteliers can leverage technology, enabling them to elevate service and go beyond ordinary hospitality is through:
- A guest engagement solution, facilitating guests to communicate directly with hotel staff easily
- A task management solution, connecting the front-of-house and back-of-house staff, ensuring tasks are assigned to the right person and completed in a timely manner
- A retailing solution, enabling guest choice and accelerating total revenue
“Hotels are struggling to maintain their existing level of service with staffing challenges, so technology solutions must help provide operational efficiency,” said Tom Winrow, VP of product management at Sabre. “The most valuable tech solutions are those that enable guests to personalize their stay while decreasing the operational effort to fulfill that stay.” For many hotels, guest preferences are communicated through notes in the PMS, which can easily be overlooked and may not pass between front-of-house and back-of-house staff as needed.
Today’s guests value options to communicate — some prefer to use the hotel’s app to request a wake-up call while others prefer to text the front desk and get a quick response without a walk to the lobby. Nuvola provides all these options, plus it allows hotel staff to pre-schedule text messages to send to all guests who meet certain criteria. For example, hotels can message everyone at 8 a.m. on the day of check-out to thank them for their stay and offer the ability to check-out online without needing to stop at the front desk. This provides guests with a positive experience in a scalable way.
“Guest engagement solutions streamline processes, they help staff do their jobs more efficiently and timely, while keeping the guests happy. Instead of needing to go to the front desk in person or call it from a room phone, guests can make requests by simple text message,” said Juan Abello, VP of product management at Sabre. “That’s something that guests are increasingly more comfortable with, and it simplifies the process for both them and for staff, who can interact with several guests at once and achieve their goal of providing good guest experiences more efficiently.”
Hotel staff strive to provide guests with a memorable experience, but this can be challenging to do without a tool to assign and track guest requests. This is where task management systems come in.
A great task management tool clearly organizes tasks, shows who it has been assigned to, and what the target time to completion is. This allows hotels to deliver consistent brand standards for resolution of guests requests. When teams in the front-of-house and back-of-house have visibility to the same information, staff members are better aligned to work together and deliver a positive guest experience.
Let’s say a hotel guest calls the front desk and asks for new towels to be sent up to their room. In most PMSes, that might be entered in the guest’s file as a note. It isn’t assigned to a staff member and it can easily be missed. The guest calls a second time or stops by the front desk to make the request again. Their confidence in the staff and the overall guest experience is waning.
In a system where task management and guest engagement systems have been integrated, hoteliers can bridge that gap through automation. That towel request is assigned directly to the appropriate staff member, who is alerted that they need to handle it. The towels are delivered after only one ask and the guest feels cared for.
“From a hotelier’s perspective, tracking each incident or request and how it was handled can shed major light on where there might be gaps in efficiency or productivity, which in turn helps upper management create better systems and ultimately save time and money by noticing trends within the business,” Abello said. “For example, if you can clearly see that multiple guests in one section of a hotel have had a similar issue, you can troubleshoot that issue holistically instead of piecemeal, which in the long run will mean less guest complaints about that issue.”
Today’s hoteliers consider revenue per available room (RevPAR) as a main metric in measuring success, but this measurement is limited to occupancy and rates. To generate greater revenue and increase guest satisfaction, hoteliers need to shift their focus to total revenue. Total revenue refers to the total amount of funds generated by the sale of policies, goods, services, and experiences in addition to room revenue.
“Just as customers are looking for travel flexibility, hotels are looking to stabilize their revenue streams,” Winrow said. “They have increased their promotion of advanced purchase rates, which can work against the needs of the customer. On one hand, it enables the hotels to offer compelling prices that drive conversion. However, it limits guest flexibility if they need to shorten or cancel their stay.”