Why Hoteliers Need to Meet Increased Guest Expectations for Mobile Apps |
Coming out of the pandemic, some changes will slowly fade away and others that we quickly realize will become permanent parts of hotel operations. According to the title, we are focusing on one of these changes: whereas before the pandemic, guests saw the ability to enter their room and communicate with hotel brands via their phone as an added value, now these capabilities are considered mandatory. Worse, customers may actually disapprove of properties that don’t fit this new modus operandi.
Flexibility is key for 2022 and beyond. Hotels are expected to provide guests with the ability to check in and out without having to physically go to the front desk, as well as the convenience of having all inquiries or other communications through an app. Additionally, the preference for mobile keys is growing rapidly, forcing many properties to upgrade their door locks.
To clarify this change in traveler behavior and best practices for onsite upgrades, we sat down with INTELITY CEO Robert Stevenson to discuss the company’s mobile app solution and what hotels need to know when moving to mobile hospitality. live.
“Some of us have been reluctant to allow travelers to do everything from their mobile devices – check-in, check-out, room keys, concierge, service requests, etc. – because the feeling is that it removes the element human from the service equation.” Stevenson noted. “At INTELITY, we see this as the exact opposite. By delivering a fast and seamless mobile app, you’re giving customers what they want right now. Then, with the full support of GEMS (our proprietary Customer Experience Management System), service delivery improves dramatically through all improved internal connections. »
The house-sharing effect
Not to stray too far, but it’s important to take a step back first and see where this aspect of post-pandemic demands has emerged. The easy answer is to pin it squarely on the safety-driven constraint for anything touchless in the wake of COVID-19 and the need to limit viral spread by removing physical touchpoints. While certainly a big contributor, the elephant in the room is the influence that home-sharing platforms now have on the overall direction of the hospitality industry.
Whether it’s Airbnb, HomeAway (a subsidiary of Expedia), onefinestay (a subsidiary of Accor) or any other platform, the growth of the short-term rental market has already crossed a tipping point in terms of total reserved accommodation market share. As more travelers of all demographics come to accept the experiences offered by these alternative accommodation providers as the norm, more all travelers will expect the same service offerings from traditional hotels.
Notably, a central difference is that all procedural aspects of the homesharing experience are completed through the guest’s phone. Communications are handled entirely through the app, including check-in, keyless (or other form of) entry instructions, and special requests. More often than not, the guest never even meets the host in the flesh. And it’s rare for a short-term rental guest to complain about the lack of formal check-in at reception; mobile-first is their preference.
Customers have widely welcomed this paradigm shift as no reception means no waiting to check in, more anonymity and more convenience overall. It is absolutely essential that you remember this: the acceptance of a new practice with superior customer benefits by a market niche will inevitably make that practice the expectation of all other competing businesses.
Eliminate transactional conversations
“As we saw in our last CIVILIAN hotel integration in New York, leading brands are embracing how a mobile-first hotel can improve the guest experience because, among other reasons, staff are freed up many painstaking tasks, making service delivery faster and more accurate. The assumption that personal connection is lost with all this digital opportunity is wrong,” Stevenson continued. “We don’t eliminate the aspect of relationship building, but only “transactional conversations” – that term recently popularized to describe the types of in-person interactions that customers do not want.”
The distinction between transactional aspects of service and relationship building or Human elements becomes quite obvious when you see the results. You can quantify the customer inconvenience and business inefficiency of these transactional conversations by comparing satisfaction scores, brand loyalty, associate turnover costs, and ancillary revenue capture by which customers spend more with the property due to the frictionless nature of a branded app. .
Particularly for the current hospitality workforce crisis, consider these three other benefits:
- Less time needed for some of the tedious aspects of the job, increasing productivity elsewhere while allowing associates to spend more “quality time” in a less hassled state with guests
- Increased motivation due to the more non-repetitive nature of each frontline role, resulting in reduced turnover and “presenteeism” where employees are physically present but disengaged
- Ability to maintain service standards and amenity offerings with fewer associates overall, which is essential for rapid occupancy increases, such as during travel resumption scenarios
Part of a lasting solution
With the above hopefully allaying the worry of losing the personal touch, the next big dismay is that all these improvements will soon be outdated in favor of the next big thing in hospitality. Closing the conversation with Stevenson, we talked about what hoteliers should do to “future-proof” their properties – to build a technology stack that meets current needs and is also flexible for future needs.
Here are some features and functions to consider when upgrading your systems:
- Convenience matters most to customers and they will always gravitate towards brands that create as seamless an experience as possible, including eliminating transactional elements.
- With the current labor shortage not in sight, automation and AI-based tools must be continuously deployed to improve service without simultaneously increasing the workload of staff or managers.
- Integration flexibility through open APIs (application programming interfaces) and available SDKs (software development kits) so you can continue to build bridges between different systems to strengthen communications and merge data tables to better analysis and personalization
- With the trend towards total revenue per guest (TRevPAR instead of RevPAR), the ability of software to increase conditioning, upsell and cross-sell becomes essential
- Built-in tools to boost branding (like white-label but customizable apps), continue the relationship post-stay, and drive loyalty program adoption by increasing or even gamifying the rewards available to guests
Larry and Adam Mogelonsky represent one of the world’s most published hospitality writing teams, with over a decade of material online. As partners of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting firm, Larry focuses on asset management, sales and operations while Adam specializes in hotel technology and marketing. Their experience encompasses properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select service. Their work includes six “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Lamas Rule” (2013), “Hotel Llama” (2015), “The Llama is Inn” (2017), “The Hotel Mogel” (2018) and “More Hotel Mogel” (2020). You can contact Larry at [email protected] or Adam at [email protected] to discuss hospitality challenges or to book speaking engagements.
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