The tourism and hospitality industries are undoubtedly two sectors that have been gravely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as safety measures have been put in place and personal protective equipment has become part of our everyday lives, more people are making travel plans for visits and getaways in the coming months.
Just as the pandemic has forced us to change our approach to sanitation and physical proximity, it has also created space for modern cloud-based tools to help hospitality establishments communicate with their guests about their travel plans and updated protocols. By moving communications and collaboration tools to Internet Protocol settings, hotels can make engagement with teams and customers smoother and more seamless as they adapt to the latest health guidelines.
Forward-looking hotel leaders may have already begun moving their telephony to the cloud. However, those still working through the cloud migration process might find that a more modern telecom configuration, such as the “Be-Your-Own-Carrier” model, will provide the flexibility and control they need in a time when there are many unknowns.
Be Your Own Carrier
For background, the BYOC configuration leverages a Communication Platform as a Service provider and allows IT teams to build and customize communications within their existing applications using application programming interfaces. For a hotel IT team, this could include existing website chat bots, hotel booking apps or even telephone systems set up for the front desk.
The telecom carrier then provides the telecom APIs and network software that the hotel leverages to interact with their guests and staff. Depending on the hotel’s needs, these telecom APIs can help the hotel set up phone numbers for guests to call or features that allow the guests to call the front desk from within the hotel’s app or website. As a result, the BYOC approach allows the hotel to avoid the complexities involved with operating network infrastructure while still maintaining control over their customer experience.
One of the key elements to ensure the success of the BYOC model is the cloud-based carrier or CPaaS provider that the hotel selects. With this in mind, below are a few important criteria IT decision makers should consider when evaluating BYOC providers for their hotel.
- Quality service without compromise: Guests expect instantaneous, seamless and flawless voice and messaging services from the moment they first reach out to the hotel for booking information. Anything less can negatively affect the hotel’s reputation. It is critical that the carrier offers premium-quality telecom services.
- Extensive capabilities to scale: A carrier that provides modern telecom capabilities to help the hotel easily integrate and add new features into its guest communication offerings should be a top criterion to meet. Look for a carrier with a strong foundation of call reporting, call management and messaging features. These features can help the hotel maintain competitive advantage and provide added benefits to their guests. Further, as guest preferences change, the hotel can add new features and communication capabilities to stay relevant with new guests, as well as their longstanding visitors.
- Insight for future planning: Cloud-based communications platforms can provide immense amounts of data that can positively impact hotel operations and decision making. Consider if the carrier enables the hotel’s IT team to track call data (e.g. call locations, frequency and time of day). These features can help the hotel better staff employees and address guests’ needs.
If the carrier selected meets all three of the criteria above, the hotel can anticipate reaping the following benefits from their BYOC deployments.
Tailored Communications Offerings
By adopting the BYOC model, hotels can tailor the way they communicate and interact with their customers, which can help them better serve their guests. Armed with customized communications solutions made possible by BYOC, hotels can continue to improve their guest experience and garner positive reviews even amid the challenges posed by COVID-19. For example, some hotel guests will prefer call options while other guests will want text and chat bot support from the hotel and its team. Traditional models are not equipped to provide the level of customization that has become essential for hotels that want to provide top-notch guest service and improve their operations.
Scale with Ease
The need to deliver communication tools that match guests’ needs makes BYOC models an attractive (and cost-efficient) option for hotels. Under the BYOC model, IT teams can adjust easily without having to buy different equipment or involve a new service provider. For instance, customer data may indicate that guests prefer communicating with a hotel by text instead of phone. With BYOC, your IT team will be able to pivot accordingly to texting. As customer preferences shift, BYOC makes it easier to rapidly adjust to meet their demands.
BYOC models are already changing the way that hotels communicate with guests and adapt to their needs. When considering if this approach is right for your business, hotels should learn their guests’ current preferences and try to anticipate whether these might shift in the future. You may also want to consider shopping for solutions that can offer several telecom APIs, which are the most customizable tool and make scaling easier.
Stand Apart from Competitors
Through BYOC, hospitality companies have more opportunities to stand out from the crowd by providing better customer service. Offering simple, easy ways for guests to book rooms, change their reservations or ask more in-depth questions will underscore the hotel’s focus on providing excellent service and drive their overall customer satisfaction. COVID-19 has brought enough confusion and frustration, to say the least, so your ability to create more straightforward communication will be an important way to offer something that other hotels do not.
Darach Beirne is VP of customer success at Flowroute, part of Intrado.