When it comes to the competitive hospitality industry, providing an excellent customer experience to establish brand loyalty is a critical element in solidifying a hotel’s long-term growth and success. A report by J.D. Power on guest loyalty and satisfaction found that 83 percent of highly satisfied hotel loyalty program members “definitely” would recommend the brand to a friend, relative or colleague.
Many hotel chains are turning to emerging technologies to improve services and provide the ultimate customer experience. Further, as modern customers become more tech-savvy and Gen Z grows into a formidable consumer market, more guests are expecting their favorite hotel to be just as tech-aware. A hotel’s ability to offer an optimal digital experience, such as providing accessible and secure mobile online booking, is becoming increasingly critical to modern guests.
To ensure hotels are meeting guests’ expectations, as well as anticipating their future needs, many global hotel chains are exploring—and should continue to explore—migrating their telecom services to cloud-based communications services to improve the guest experience and make internal business processes more agile. Cloud-based communication services provide numerous benefits for hotels, especially when analyzing customer engagement and overall user experience. For example, through cloud-based messaging tools, a hotel can provide guests the flexibility to text their hotel and receive real-time updates around check-in and check-out times.
Often a hotel’s traditional infrastructure lacks the ability to run multiple apps or provide mobility, which can impact the guest experience and impede staff productivity and the ability to provide the best service. In contrast, cloud-based communications services empower hotel decision makers to become more agile in their business processes so they can easily scale offerings to adapt to customer needs—an essential capability in such a highly competitive and service-oriented market.
Despite the numerous business benefits of the cloud, some hotels may be reluctant to make the switch because of investments in current infrastructure and fear of any disruption to staff and guests. However, if done with thoughtful and strategic planning, the transition from telecom to cloud-based communications services can be smooth and well worth the resulting impacts to a hotel’s bottom line.
There are three steps hotel decision makers can take to ensure a smooth migration from traditional telecom to cloud-based services.
1. Define business objectives and anticipate challenges
For a business of any industry, migrating to the cloud takes planning and preparation. However, this is especially important for a hotel where in-person customer service is an expectation 24/7.
Before beginning the migration process, a hotel IT team should work with its chosen cloud-based communication service provider to develop a comprehensive plan that will guide the process and provide structure to minimize disruption. The plan also should outline key overarching business objectives of the migration centered around the customers’ needs.
The best way to create the plan is to address the following questions:
- What communication features should be migrated first and why?
- How and when should the migration be communicated internally to hotel staff?
- What type of training will be provided to staff before the migration process?
- How will service changes be communicated externally to guests and loyalty members, ensuring transparency on any sort of changes (i.e. email, newsletter, blog and social media, etc.)? A lack of transparency when communicating this change to customers can have detrimental impact on a hotel’s reputation and business.
2. Pilot and test solutions
To ensure a hotel’s migration to the cloud is successful, the hotel should first pilot and test services within its internal network before “going live.” Testing enables the hotel management to familiarize themselves with new communication offerings beforehand to ensure the new tools are fully operational before they are in front of customers and staff.
Additionally, setting aside time for a trial period with long-term loyalty members or corporate partners allows the hotel to monitor and better control the deployment process, addressing any issues before rolling out the solution customerwide. The last thing any business wants is for a customer to try one of its newly added communication features without success.
3. Strengthen customer service through new features post-migration
After the migration is complete, it is important for hotel management to monitor how guests and staff respond to new offerings. Also, keeping a pulse on guests’ changing expectations and scaling services accordingly will help a hotel strengthen its market longevity.
Further, as a hotel’s cloud communication strategy becomes more sophisticated, it can advance its omnichannel approach by integrating new technologies to customize experience and service at every step of the guest’s journey (digitally and in person).
Ultimately, migrating telecom services to the cloud will help hotels modernize their offerings to provide guests with improved customer service and enhanced engagement. Lastly, the ability to evolve the customer journey through flexible communications helps hotel chains establish lasting brand loyalty against their competitors.
Sascha Mehlhase is the senior director of product management for West Telecom Services and Flowroute.