Leverage Wi-Fi as Enabler of Digital Innovation
Hotels exist in the space between the physical and digital as high-touch service increasingly must include high-tech components. Guest expectations link directly to connectivity, as they demand robust Wi-Fi and mobile access from all corners of the property.
“Through a partnership with Cisco Meraki and Single Digits, we’re providing Hotel Connectivity Solutions (HCS) to our franchisees so that they no longer have to worry about the internet at their hotels,” Strickland says.
Currently, HCS is available for rollout at the entire North American hotel population (6000+ hotels). Through its partnership with Cisco Meraki, Wyndham was able to negotiate premier rates that enables franchisees to pay the brand roughly half of what other brands charge for hardware, wireless access points, router, circuit and the service. When a franchisee signs on, Wyndham employees then coordinate the site survey, install the go-live and provide support.
Because the Meraki solution is entirely cloud-based, troubleshooting can be done remotely. Support staff can see issues immediately, often receiving alerts about and being able to run troubleshooting procedures before the guest even knows there is a problem.
“But wait, there’s more,” [Editor’s Note: I told you so.] says Strickland. “We also maintain a home page for the franchisee, so they have a beautiful splash page and when guests log onto the Wi-Fi it’s very professional looking.”
Taking this on for the franchisees was important for Strickland and his IT team as he sees the benefits as two-fold. First, Strickland shares that Wyndham research has proven that having rock-solid Wi-Fi “increases a hotel’s TripAdvisor rating by half a bubble.” Not only does it enhance guest experience, but it will enable the digital and additional services that Wyndham plans to roll out in the future — such as mobile key.
2. Leave the Tedious for Efficiency-Seeking Robots. Wyndham has implemented robotic process automation (RPA) to speed up the hotel opening process. Partnering with Kryon Systems, Wyndham was able to automate the often labor-intensive data entry that goes into a hotel opening to make sure the website is accurate and OTA information is up-to-date.
“We have determined that it has improved the speed by which data is entered in (the system), so that hotels can open faster,” Strickland illustrates.
Without RPA, the hotel owner fills out a spreadsheet, which in turn needs to be loaded into Sabre, which pushes the data to OTAs. Invariably, hotel owners don’t fill out the entire form and the form is returned. Each time a form comes back, staff would need to identify the new information and reload the data. RPA removes that back-and-forth from a human’s list of responsibilities, freeing them for tasks that will add value to guests’ experiences.
“Robots are very good at looking at spreadsheets and they speed up the opening process because the robot doesn’t sleep,” Strickland quips. “The franchisee doesn’t even know a robot is talking to them. They just get an email and a robot handles the majority of the data load itself.”
Strickland sees potential in RPA for anywhere there is grunt work in the organization.
“Our audit team wants to use RPA to help with data collection and the revenue management team is interested in finding applications as well,” Strickland notes.
3. Smile, for Cameras that Let You Work Smarter. Behind the walls of Wyndham’s Innovation Lab, the brand is seeking to solve for the problem of throughput at the front desk. Strickland shares that the IT team is currently experimenting with the capabilities of Cisco Meraki cameras to implement queue detection. With AI, the cameras are able to detect when the line is more than two or three people deep. The system will then automatically send an SMS alert to a staff member to bring another agent to the front desk. This will allow staff to complete other tasks as needed, without fear of missing an opportunity to provide better service to a guest in person.