staySky Resort Management provides a full menu of services encompassing all aspects of hospitality property operations, including human resource management, accounting, marketing, purchasing, centralized reservations, information technology.
Vice President Sandy Wade has worked in sales, marketing and operational leadership positions for Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank UK, Virgin Holidays Worldwide, Access USA, and Integra Resort Management. With 20 years in the hospitality industry, Sandy is recognized as a sales, marketing and management leader with expertise in global revenue generation through domestic and international distribution channels.
Here she speaks about her observations about the impact of technology on the industry.
How does your company currently utilize guest technology?
We are present in all of the prominent social media channels to make sure we can provide our guests with fast and efficient customer service. We answer 100% of the reviews guests write about our properties and we have a weekly meeting to discuss the opportunities for improvement mentioned in online reviews. We also have an incentive program in place to congratulate and reward our hard-working staff for their outstanding job when they are mentioned by name in a review. We engage with guests when they mention un on a tweet, tag us, check-in online at our property, ask us direct questions online or post about us in the various social media channels.
Does it differ depending on the property’s target market?
Not really. Most travelers are now using technology to make sure they can have a flawless vacation experience. It doesn’t matter how different the demographics are for each target market; they’re all becoming travel savvy and taking advantage of online resources.
Which technologies do you enjoy or benefit from using most during your own travel?
Mobile technology and online resources. Looking at online reviews, travel blogs, Pinterest boards, and online forums is the best way to get the real scoop of what a hotel is like, what the best transportation option is and how to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to amenities.
Digital surveys provide a real opportunity to impress our guests and hear their thoughts before they post any negative feedback online.
Which hotel technologies are you most excited by or interested in for the future?
Travel websites such as Expedia now allow guests to send instant feedback to hotels of how their stay is going. Surveys are sent to the guest that share their email at check-in, so guests can share their private and honest feedback with us while they are still at our property. That gives us the opportunity to try to turn that guest’s experience around if they happen to mention having any issues during their stay. Before this technology came around, all a hotel could do was apologize for their shortcomings. Now we have a real opportunity to impress our guests and hear their thoughts before they post any negative feedback online.
Most of your company’s properties are based in central Florida. How do you think this region’s hospitality market differs from the nation when it comes to views on or adoption of hotel technology?
Florida is a hospitality giant, so people expect greatness. The theme parks in Orlando definitely set a high standard of service and innovative technology, so businesses are forced to meet those standards if they want to remain relevant and competitive. I believe guests’ expectation in Florida far exceed the expectation a guest would have if traveling to a remote part of the country where tourism isn’t the main focus.
What would you say is the biggest impact technology has had on the hospitality and travel industries within the past 5 years?
Mobile technology and social media have completely changed the travel industry. You can now price check hotels, airline tickets, and attraction tickets on the go, right from your phone. You can also read about other guests’ experience at the hotel you are looking to stay and have a better idea of what to expect. Hotels rarely get walk-ins anymore, because guests usually research prices and amenities using online travel agents like Expedia and Booking.com before even stepping foot in a hotel lobby. So when they arrive they already know how much your rate is, what it’s included in the rate and what guests are saying about your property.
Most people, regardless of their age, are using technology during their travel journey.
How greatly do you think the impact of technology on the travel journey differs depending on age?
Younger users tend to be more active on a variety of social media channels, ranging from microblogs to travel online forums. That allows them to have more information and resources during their travel journey. That usually means more savings and a smoother travel experience. But even if indirectly, most travelers are benefiting from technology when traveling. Whether it is using a GPS device or asking friends for travel tips on a quick Facebook “survey,” most people, regardless of their age, are using technology during their travel journey.
What are your predictions for industry trends that will improve or impact guest experience in 2016?
Wow, that’s a tough one…there are so many opportunities for guests to interact with hotels. I think we’ll see more use of apps while in-house, which will allow guests to order room service, request extra pillows or towels, and check out all from your phone.