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01/17/2022

Crafting & Consolidating the Contactless Experience

Our 2021 Customer-Facing Hotel Visionary Award winner, Loews Hotels & Co, found a way to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic and offer guests a contactless option while also creating a new revenue stream.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
Michal Christine  Escobar  profile picture
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Loews Hotels & Co logo

Like other hotel brands, Loews Hotels & Co quickly converted its in-person experiences into contactless experiences wherever possible in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The brand wanted to ensure that guests felt safe, while also remembering the company’s brand positioning and service culture.

“When the pandemic began, we had questions – like everyone else did,” notes Barry Phillips, Senior Director IT Strategic Systems. “For example, how do we take care of our team members and guests and ensure they feel comfortable? What does contactless mean? How do we service our restaurants and bars without them coming to see us? And, how can guests bypass the front desk?”

Initially, Loews Hotels & Co – like so many others – turned to QR codes to provide contactless solutions.

However, when the brand realized that the pandemic would be a marathon and not a sprint, it revaluated its use of QR codes and the contactless experience. It ended up paring down its QR code offerings and then created a new solution that would include a variety of services while allowing guests to interact with the brand via a single point of contact: the guest portal.  

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Barry Phillips of Loews Hotels
Barry Phillips, Senior Director IT Strategic Systems, Loews Hotels & Co

For Loews Hotels & Co, it was particularly important to offer the guest portal to their customers via a variety of methods. The first way it is offered is via a welcome SMS message to guests who have checked-in and opted into the brand’s “Chat Your Service” program.

“This also opens up a channel for guests to engage our team throughout their entire stay with Loews and beyond,” adds Phillips. “It allows us to communicate directly with a guest via their own personal device. Plus, all texting is responded to by team members, which aligns with our brand positioning centered around human interactions.

And while the brand has significantly reduced the number of QR codes it manages, it found that having a QR code available to guests so that they can access the guest portal whenever they’d like was both efficient and useful. Thus, a QR code for each property’s specific guest portal is deployed via in-room collateral, on the TVs in guest rooms and on a stand at the front desk

Lastly, when guests logon to the property’s internet, the Wi-Fi landing page also delivers guests automatically to the guest portal.

The guest portal was designed to take the in-room compendium, in-room dining menu, outlet menus, arrival details, local attractions, and outlet reservations and put them on an easy-to-use portal that does not require a login. For example, guests can use the guest portal to access more than 40 outlets to order food and beverage options whether it’s for delivery, pickup or poolside delivery.

“Essentially, the Loews team digitized and disconnected guests from a jagged and antiquated approach to information and are now delivering information on the guest’s terms at thoughtful intervals,” Phillips explains. “For example, if a guest wants to make a dinner reservation, they can either text the on-site team members or click the guest portal and do it themselves.

Since implementation Loews Hotels & Co has found more than half of guests choose to opt-in to the service and make use of the guest portal. And food orders through the portal have helped to supplement outlet revenues.

“This guest portal allowed us to be nimble and quick to market by using the tools we already had available within our technology stack,” Phillips added. 

 

Has your hotel brand done something amazing with technology in 2022? Then we want to hear from you! We'll be opening up the nomination period for our 2022 Hotel Visionary Awards after Labor Day, but you can always tell us about your amazing achievements ahead of time by emailing Michal Christine Escobar, Senior Editor - Hotels at mescobar @ ensembleiq.com!