According to TripAdvisor’s 2016 TripBarometer: Travel Trends 2016 study, 75% of all travelers and 83% of millennial travelers refuse to leave home without their smartphone. Obviously, hoteliers must have a mobile customer engagement strategy, but data from HT’s 2017 Customer Engagement Technology Study (Chart 1) reveals that hotels continue to lag in what mobile capabilities they offer compared to what guests want. While some hoteliers are beginning to offer mobile apps with greater capabilities, there remains a large opportunity for hotels to improve the guest experience.
RLHC (Red Lion Hotels Corporation, www.redlion.com) recently embedded the MyWallet mobile payment platform from MyCheck (www.mycheck.io) into the brand’s loyalty app: Hello Rewards. MyWallet allows one to manage and store multiple payment methods in the Hello Rewards app. Eventually, Hello Rewards members will be able to use the app to check in and check out, view their hotel folio, order room service, and pay in hotel restaurants using any payment method stored in their profile.
An increase in mobile traffic incentivized Viceroy Hotel Group (www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com) to partner with TripCraft (www.tripcraft.com) in order to optimize the mobile booking experience for its mobile guests.
“Mobile technology provides the guest with greater control and influence over her hotel experience,” Kristie Goshow, senior vice president, commercial, notes. “By enabling a guest to control room features, stream content from a mobile device or receive the room key from the cloud, we are subtly rotating the powerbase from that of ‘inn-keeper’ to ‘inn-vited.’”
EAST, Miami (www.east-miami.com) worked with ASSA ABLOY Hospitality (www.assaabloyhospitality.com) to install VingCard Essence door locks as well as its Visionline software in early 2017. Guests can check-in remotely and receive an encrypted mobile key on their phone. After enabling Bluetooth, guests simply hold their phone to the RFID lock which decrypts the mobile key and unlocks the door.
According to Mihai Bote, CHTP, director of technology, EAST, Miami, this type of technology offers hoteliers numerous advantages. For instance, online RFID networks can track all room entry attempts in real-time and suspected break-ins can be instantly investigated by remotely accessing door lock audit trails.
“If guests download the ALICE app or use the ALICE website, they can make requests for restaurant reservations, more towels for their room, and even text us the same way they would others,” he says.
Hotel Via (www.hotelviasf.com) not only offers guests mobile check-in and mobile keys, but it also offers a personal tablet within each room for guests’ convenience powered by KEYPR’s (www.keypr.com) platform, Jerry Leap, director of sales and marketing, notes. Guests can use the tablet to order room service, extra pillows or blankets, or toiletries. It can also be used to schedule housekeeping or cast the guest’s personal Netflix or Hulu account onto the in-room television. Almost 90% of guests engage with the tablet on a regular basis.
Establishing a Mobile Workforce
Weissenhäuser Strand (www.weissenhaeuserstrand.de/en/), a holiday resort on the Baltic Sea in Germany with 500 employees, runs Oracle’s (www.oracle.com) Suite8 PMS to manage its property. It also uses Hotel Mobile, Oracle’s native app for hotel operations, which interfaces with Suite8 to facilitate mobile housekeeping, maintenance, check-in, and other staffed operations. According to David Depenau, managing director, Hotel Mobile has helped the resort eliminate time consuming paperwork and manual data entry, saving approximately an hour per staff member per day.
Woodside Hotels (www.woodsidehotels.com), has implemented ALICE at seven properties and uses ALICE Staff, ALICE Concierge and Guest Messaging to garner important and relevant data to improve the workforce. For example, it learned the time of day when most guest requests are received and how long it takes its staff to complete requests.
“This has led to more effective scheduling, allowing us to have more associates on the floor at optimal times, improving guest-associate interactions and ultimately improving the service guests receive,” says Adam Knight, vice president of operations, Woodside Hotels.
For RLHC, the ability for multi-lingual teams spread throughout a hotel to communicate in real-time about issues that directly impact the hotel operation across a common platform is key.
“We’ve had solutions in the past that tried to accomplish this via phones in the rooms or radios, but it wasn’t nearly as graceful and elegant as a mobile app,” says RLHC Chief Information Officer John Edwards. “Real-time guest feedback/communication is also a benefit as we can immediately impact a guest’s stay with our team members taking immediate action to resolve the issue.”
Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls (www.niagarafallscrowneplazahotel.com), found a mobile solution for its staff improved productivity and offered insight into how hard its team members were working. It currently runs Quore’s (www.quore.com) mobile solution on 20 resort provided Apple iTouches, instead of letting staff use their own personal devices.
Tom Linton, director of operations, explains there were two reasons for this. “First, we can secure and track the devices if we own them and if a device gets lost, we can ‘kill’ it,” he explains. “Second, we can ensure that the only thing these devices can access is the Quore system. That way we don’t have to worry about staff surfing the Internet when they should be working.”