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Sonoma Hotel & Spa Improves Guest Experience with Texting

MacArthur Place, Sonoma Hotel & Spa said it selected hotel technology platform ALICE to upgrade its operations and provide convenience to guests through mobile messaging. The hotel is using ALICE’s full suite of products - ALICE Guest, ALICE Concierge, and ALICE Staff - for its guests, concierge, and staff departments respectively.
MacArthur Place, a 64-room, historic Wine Country estate, just steps from Sonoma Square, was looking for a way to text message with guests when it came across ALICE. Recognized as one of the “World’s Best” Hotels in CondÉ Nast Traveler’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards, MacArthur Place has always viewed innovation in the guest offering and an outstanding guest experience as highly intertwined. The hotel was the first hotel in the region to offer their guests WiFi, as well as the first to offer electric car charging stations, and MacArthur’s executive team sought guest messaging as a way to differentiate their hotel even further by improving the accessibility of their offerings and amenities with a technology already familiar and beloved by guests.
As the executive team anticipated, guests at MacArthur Place are delighted with how easy text messaging makes it to communicate directly with the hotel. And importantly, the hotel’s staff are impressed with how seamlessly responding to guest texts fits into their operations, now that they’re managing their work on the ALICE platform. Because MacArthur moved their task management from their PMS to ALICE, adding another guest engagement channel, like texting, doesn’t burden the hotel’s staff with an additional technology system. When a text comes in from a guest, staff are notified and can respond right away in ALICE, dispatching requests or follow up work orders to their colleagues without switching to a different system or radio-ing out.
Guest messaging is proving particularly useful for MacArthur’s staff and guests when it comes to communicating whether or not a guest’s room is ready for check-in. As Kevin Virgo, MacArthur’s Director of Operations described it, communication between guest and staff was particularly fraught when it came to this specific issue. Prior to ALICE, guests would call the front desk prior to arrival to find out whether or not their room was ready. This required a lot of sleuthing by staff behind the scenes, while the guest was placed on hold. Now, the front desk can just text the guest when the room is ready, giving guests peace of mind, and alleviating anxiety for staff. Other popular use cases for texting on property include quick confirmation of dinner reservations from the concierge, as well as leveraging the personal, real-time nature of the medium for guest recovery - something that’s really resonating with guests.
In addition to guest text messaging, other aspects of the ALICE platform are improving operations at MacArthur Place. The hotel’s front desk staff are excited to move management of guest lost and found from paper spreadsheets to ALICE’s digital log. Attaching photos of found items to tickets and tying tickets to guest profiles radically simplifies a formerly challenging process. The hotel’s seasoned concierge team, meanwhile, uses ALICE’s dedicated concierge software, with its online vendor database and digital itinerary builder, to help them deliver the personalized service the hotel is known for. The hotel’s concierge particularly like how they can print and email guest itineraries that can be more easily updated than those they previously crafted by hand. They also appreciate that there’s now one central log for all guest activities, appointments, and reservations that can be accessed by any team member on any shift.
Implementing ALICE across every department also means staff have to rely a lot less on radios, and staff and guests are enjoying the newfound peace and quiet. Virgo admits he was initially skeptical the hotel could run without radios, primarily because of the ease and speed of communication they provided his staff. Yet, just a few months into using ALICE, staff have discovered shortcut keys within the ALICE staff app, and Virgo believes staff are now more and better connected than they ever were before.
“The staff think we bought ALICE just for them,” Virgo admits. “We were looking for technology that would enhance the guest experience, and we wound up with a technology that’s enhanced our staff operations as well.”
Virgo commended ALICE for its ease of installation. As a long-time Director of Operations at MacArthur Place and at other hotels, Virgo has overseen many software and system implementations, but said ALICE - as a cloud-based software, with a user-friendly interface and experienced trainers - was by far most stress-free launch of any new hotel technology he’s experienced. “We were definitely surprised how fast it was to train every department and get the system up and running,” he said. 
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