How a Mobile App and IoT Tech Improves the Guest Experience at Taj Hotels
In June 2017, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris and Proxce announced a partnership that would allow Taj to offer guests a hyper-personalized state of the art mobile platform. Taj Hotels has 98 hotels in 61 locations across the globe. Proxce offers a mobile based real-world identity management solution to allow seamless mobile check-ins to hotels, keyless access to rooms and precise location based services. Proxce says it even offers IoT technology such as automatically checking in guests and downloading a mobile key to their phone when they enter the hotel lobby or triggering a message to the valet concierge when they leave their room so a car is ready by the time they reach the lobby.
Currently, the Taj Hotels mobile app is focused on improving the overall guest experience at every stage of the journey from planning, booking and pre-arrival to experiencing, sharing and loyalty. Through a simplified user interface, guests can search through booking options for all Taj hotels by a map-based search functionality. The app features exclusive offers as well as dedicated Taj Holidays deals for guests to discover more about the world of Taj.
In an interview with Hospitality Technology magazine, Chinmai Sharma, the former EVP and Chief Revenue Officer of Taj Hotels, talks with HT about its use of this mobile app and IoT technology. Since this interview, Sharma has left Taj Hotels to become President of DHISCO Inc.
What do the guests expect from your hotel when it comes to IoT technology?
CHINMAI: Of late, we have observed the guest demographic and comfort with technology undergo a major change. As with other hospitality facets, guests are not particular about how we use IoT, but in the end, it should make their experience better, be easy to use and should be secure
Why did your hotel implement Proxce's technology? How does it work?
CHINMAI: As mentioned above, we are seeing our guests change. As a result, we too are evolving to adapt to an increasing digital native customer base and to the increasing competitive and margin pressure from non-direct distribution channels. The more the direct bookings, the better for us as we know the guest better and it makes more commercial sense. We were looking for solutions which would not only help us with guest experience but would also make the app more persistent in the guest’s smartphone, especially within our loyalty members. Something which would provide core sticky features to start with and also the flexibility to build more functionality in future. We found that Proxce provided the right mix of flexibility and functionality. Proxce has provided us with a few prebuilt functionalities and a good interface to build more as and when we are ready for it.
What challenges has it solved for your company?
CHINMAI: No technology is ever a replacement for delivering great hospitality. However, with Proxce we have seen good traction in a few areas. App adoption, ease of use and more direct bookings were our primary goals. The enhanced guest experience promises to boost our guest loyalty and add ancillary revenue. Secondly, while we were pushing out messages before Proxce, we will now be able to deliver much more personalized services with the contextual mobile marketing technology. Instead of bombarding everyone with promotions (which can be annoying if out of context), we will be able to target specific messages to the relevant subsegment of our guests. Very similar to what Facebook does with their ads. And lastly, our IT is pretty happy owing to their technology abstraction and resulting future proofing. We have upgraded pieces of technology (e.g. Bluetooth door locks, CRS, etc.) without affecting the guest interaction or requiring an update to the mobile app. This is a tremendous advantage for our technology and operations teams.
What do you think will be the next evolution of IoT technology in hospitality?
CHINMAI: I will draw upon what I am seeing of IoT in other domains, since IoT has just started to become prevalent in hospitality. As the technology becomes mature, I think IoT will be combined with other technologies (like video recognition) to provide an even more personalized guest experience and rich data. Also, it will start generating a vast amount of data which will be very helpful in deploying resources for maximum impact. But my real hope is that it will become intelligent enough to anticipate and service guest needs.