A Blog by INTELITY

At Your Service

Presenting the latest innovation and trends in hospitality technology and the products that are revolutionizing the service industry.

guest service

4 Ways Hoteliers Can Use Tech to Streamline Daily Operations and Elevate Guest Experience

Providing an exceptional guest experience is paramount to any hotelier, but the modern traveler’s desire for a highly personalized digital interaction has created a challenge. Implementing a tech platform that streamlines daily operations, staff workflows, and offers expanded communication tools will lead to elevated guest service, and free up staff time so they can focus on crafting those exact experiences guests crave.

Here are four ways technology can be used to increase operational efficiency:

1. Streamline Daily Workflows

Incorporating a service optimization solution, such as a ticketing system, can go a long way in streamlining your staff’s daily activities and decreasing service delivery times. Using a ticketing system gives management and operations teams the ability to track, organize, and manage daily tasks and guest requests for more efficient management.

INTELITY’s newly enhanced ticketing system was crafted with hospitality operations teams in mind. Features like preventative maintenance, service recovery, and work order checklists give staff the ability to organize, track, and manage workflows and tasks while giving management teams a comprehensive view of all activity on property. The ticketing system also includes real-time escalations and notifications, so that service delivery times are reduced and the guest experience is elevated.

2. Access Real-Time Content Updates

Gone are the days where you have to spend countless hours reviewing and editing printing proofs only to update the content and go through the same process all over again a few months down the road. Using technology like mobile apps and in-room tablets, hoteliers can replace printed collateral and in-room compendiums with digital content hosted through those platforms.

At INTELITY, we’ve created a robust back-office solution that includes a comprehensive content management system that gives operations teams the ability to easily make real-time updates to their digital content across property.

3. Make Better Business Decisions

Hoteliers can use the data generated by their tech stack to make smarter business decisions and streamline their revenue dispersion. In-room tablets can lead to data that indicates which spa services are most popular at specific times, which in-room dining menu items are most popular during certain months, which items are requested most frequently from housekeeping, and much more. By using this type of data, management teams can gain further insight into what their guests want and how to best meet those needs.

INTELITY’s platform features robust business intelligence analytics to give hoteliers a complete view of activity across their property and provide rich insight into guest preference.

4. Personalize Your Guest Service

Today’s guests are looking for highly personalized service that is tailored to their unique preferences. Technology has made it easier to provide this type of custom service at scale. Using the data generated by guests’ reservations, stated preferences, and interactions with in-room devices, like in-room tablets and mobile apps, hoteliers can elevate their guest service and meet their guests’ expectations.

INTELITY Staff features Guest360™, which gives hoteliers snapshot of guests’ preferences and expectations in a single location. This unique feature provides operations teams with the information they need to craft the hyper-personalized experiences the modern traveler craves.

To learn more about how you can streamline daily operations and elevate guest service at your property, stop by the INTELITY booth at HITEC Minneapolis or schedule a demo of the INTELITY hospitality technology platform!

The Link Between Hospitality Technology and Establishing Hotel Guest Loyalty

A majority of travelers are not loyal to a hotel brand. How can hospitality technology improve the state of hotel guest loyalty?

One of the top challenges faced by hospitality marketers, apart from increasing revenue, is better connecting with and engaging hotel guests. Customer experience has become one of the most important considerations for a business, and the hospitality industry is no exception. Hotel guest loyalty is built upon satisfying guest experiences, and the benefits of establishing guest loyalty are plentiful.

For one, it’s a well-known business principle that keeping existing customers is less costly than attracting new ones. Additionally, word-of-mouth and advocacy marketing are among the strongest tools for gaining new business, particularly among hospitality where online reviews are an active part of the pre-booking phase for many potential guests.

Increasing hotel guest loyalty is a major challenge for the modern hospitality industry. About two-thirds (64 percent) of leisure travelers and more than half of business travelers are not loyal to any one hotel brand.

Hospitality technology is beginning to come to the forefront of the hotel guest loyalty conversation. One of the top technology investment in 2014 was for solutions to improve the customer or guest experience, and investments in this area are projected to rise. It’s with good reason that hotels are looking for technology to manage guest experience and relationships.

No longer are there only one or two lines of communication that hotels have to monitor for guest feedback. Now hotel guests are constantly sharing online reviews and feedback through any number of communication channels. From social media to online review sites to blogs, the conversation never stops, creating a never-ending need for businesses to monitor what’s being said.

More travelers (39%) prefer to stay in hotels that know about them compared with hotels that don’t (21%).

Developments within hospitality technology allow management to proactively strategize in order to create fluid two-way communication with guests for improved hospitality brand perception. Creating direct channels for guests to communicate directly with hotel management and staff allows hoteliers to receive instant feedback rather than waiting for guests to post something negative once they’ve left a property. It also helps hotels build a connection with guests that leads to long-term loyalty.

Hotel mobile apps or text messaging services can serve as a convenient bridge to hotel guests. An increasing number of guests carry a personal mobile device and are enthusiastic to use these or complimentary hotel touchscreen kiosks or in-room tablets for active digital engagement with hotel staff.

Mobile guest apps can embed such features as digital comment cards. They can also provide insight into guest behavior and preferences that can be leveraged to increase hotel guest satisfaction and loyalty. This is critical for appealing to modern travelers, who place value on personalized guest experiences.

More travelers (39%) prefer to stay in hotels that know about them and their preferences compared with hotels that don’t (21%). Guests want to know that their hotel is attentively listening to them in order to create a more positive, engaged experience. Thirty-six percent of Millennials and 37% of travelers age 35 to 54 are willing to share personal information in return for valuable benefits such as personal touches in their room.

Investing in the right hospitality technology systems can help hotel management better connect with guests in order to actively improve the guest experience. By doing so, the hospitality industry will find that it is able to better establish hotel guest loyalty in the future.

To learn more about how you can use hospitality technology to create guest loyalty, schedule a demo with a member of our team.

Luxury on a Select Budget: How Select-Service Hotels Can Leverage Advanced Hotel Technology

Select-service hotels have to walk the line between full-service and limited-service properties in many regards. However, as demand for select-service hotels increases (topping demand for full-service properties by nearly 150%), investors are realizing that technology is not one of the items that can be cut back on. Overall, the primary appeal of select-service hotels to investors are lower, controlled operating costs and higher profit margins.

Providing guests with a full-service digital experience while reasonably managing technology investments in order to maintain low operating costs has long been a challenge for the select-service hotel industry.

The implementation of hotel self-service technology in select-service hotels is recognized by many as a great fit.

“We’re not taking away services. We’re bringing back a hotel brand and a segment that caters to the needs of today’s travelers.”

– Brian McGuinness, head of Starwood’s select-service and lifestyle brands

“I think except for the large, full-service hotels, guests are handling their needs themselves. Consumers now have so many ways to shop for the kinds of things concierges always were helpful with,” said Bob Habeeb, president and COO of First Hospitality Group, which manages a large number of select-service properties under brands such as Hilton Garden Inn and SpringHill Suites.

A few select-service brands are already looking to leverage the power of the hospitality technology trend by testing out innovation at various levels. For example, Starwood Hotels & Resorts owns Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element, which total 300 properties. The Aloft brand has gotten particular attention as of late because of a variety of innovative features. Aloft recently introduced to its guests SPG Keyless, room control systems, and in-room Apple TV video streaming.

Most eye-catching among the headlines was the announcement of an experimental robot butler called Botlr at two Aloft Hotels in Silicon Valley. It was certainly an interesting move, as the potential of the robot hotel concept has not been fully realized yet.

“We’re not taking away services,” said Brian McGuinness, head of Starwood’s select-service and lifestyle brands. “We’re bringing back a hotel brand and a segment that caters to the needs of today’s travelers. They are interested in fashion, in design, staying on trend but not necessarily trendy, completely wired for the internet age.”

And installing hotel technology to impress guests has become increasingly affordable for hotels beyond the luxury segment. Decreased costs of mobile technology hardware, including quality smartphones and tablets, has allowed them to become a plausible enterprise tool in numerous industries, from healthcare to education. Hospitality is also beginning to embrace mobile technology, led by luxury and upscale properties. For instance, in-room tablets are an increasingly popular way to maximize guest engagement directly in guest rooms, while also improving brand perception and decreasing printing costs through the replacement of traditional print compendiums and menus.

We’ve now reached a time where select-service hotels are going to be able to offer digital and in-room technology features similar to the upscale segment for an overall improvement in guest experience.

Scoring a Touchdown with Mobile Guest Service Technology

For the hospitality industry, being competitive when it comes to attracting guests and gaining their loyalty has never been more important, but it is also more of a challenge in this digitally obsessed age with tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, and other devices, which are all increasing in prevalence. Creating a winning strategy with guests has been taken to the next level, and your digital playbook has to be top notch to keep guest satisfaction high. Still, scoring a touchdown with guest service mobile technology does not have to involve a large number of gadgets.

In 2013, a Forrester survey emphasized the importance of using mobile technology to reach guests in the hospitality industry. According to the survey,

“74 percent of business leaders view mobile as a major priority. In fact, since 2009, the number of leisure travelers using their mobile devices for travel has increased by more than 450%.”

Hospitality businesses that want to stay relevant to guests should invest in and implement systems that allow customers to use appropriate digital channels to improve their stay. The modern traveler’s needs have adapted to require a more sophisticated and personalized touch, and making it to the end zone can be as simple as making a touchdown pass to your guests where they spend a significant amount of time making travel arrangements and connecting with brands – mobile devices.

Sports fans know that a football game begins even before the teams set foot on the gridiron on game day, and similarly, cultivating an intimate connection with your guests begins before they step foot on your property for a stay. Certain software, such as INTELITY’s hospitality technology platform, gives guests the ability to communicate preferences and service requests before their stay to allow you to better meet their needs. Anticipating the needs of your guests by using this information strategically will assist in establishing your brand identity as one that prioritizes service, a sure way to earn points toward building loyalty.

One of the newer mobile features that can provide an extra conversion point for your digital strategy is giving guests the ease of checking in via mobile in order to skip the traditional check-in, such as standing in a long line at the front desk. Mobile key entry, pre-arrival services, mobile check-in are just the beginning of how innovation can change your relationship with guests.

Technology that helps the guest make the most of their stay or makes the guest room a true oasis is also vital. In-room tablets can provide access to a variety of services and benefits to improve guestroom experiences, such as automated room environment controls, digital wake-up calls, and mobile room service orders, as well as immediately transmitting requests to staff for expedited response. Beefing up your digital strategy also affords the opportunity to electronically gather data that allows you to analyze and track the areas your business can improve to ensure everyone who leaves your hotel is a true fan.

Implementing cutting-edge hospitality technology to supplement your hotel’s repertoire of strategic guest service plays is key to winning a ring rather than losing out to your competition. So avoid fumbling the ball and step up your digital game when it comes to engaging with guests on an impactful level by utilizing technology to its fullest potential.

Becoming a Jedi Master of Hospitality Technology

In this day and age, many businesses are embracing mobile as the Force that provides them with new capabilities to drive success. While these don’t necessarily include masterfully wielding a lightsaber, there are a number of benefits that should encourage you to embrace training and go from a Padawan to a digital Master.

For those in the hospitality industry, learning to successfully channel this technological energy can help address disturbances in the Force caused by dissatisfied guests, competition from other hotels or Airbnb, and increased booking revenue sharing with OTAs.

Here’s a guide to what you can expect as you embark on your mission to join the ranks of such greats as Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Initiate

Your path to becoming a Master begins with the realization of the need for the Force in your life. Statistics and research all support the significance of mobile and technology in the travel and hospitality industries:

Once you’ve accepted that technology is a vital part of your future and embraced that you hold the potential to harness this tool within you, it’s time to begin your actual training.

Padawan

It all begins with learning the basic principles of the Force that will guide your mobile future. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information available, especially if you’re not particularly tech-savvy, but getting started is simple if you’ve got the right Master to guide your training.

Partnering with the right mobile Master, such as the expert team available at INTELITY, offers you the opportunity to learn quickly and leverage their experience to grant yourself access to more advanced capabilities. They can help you navigate some of the pitfalls and tests associated with the implementation of new technologies in order to seamlessly integrate digital features into your offered guest experience.

For instance, you can avoid wasting substantial internal resources on digital maintenance and focus on other important aspects of guest service delivery. You can also easily figure out the degree to which technology should play a role in your guest experience to determine the perfect balance of high touch versus high tech.

Jedi Knight

As you graduate to higher levels and expand your familiarity with the abilities of mobile technology, you’ll be able to learn how to more expertly wield your tech powers to not only complete basic engagement with guests, but also extend benefits to the back-of-house to improve your operational efficiency.

  • Communicate with guests at all stages of their travel journey
  • Capture more direct bookings through proprietary booking channels
  • Perform yield management
  • Minimize human error with reduced manual actions and data input
  • Monitor request fulfillment and service operations digitally

Putting your training into practice allows you to become more comfortable with using the Force to accomplish goals and employ it more creatively in the future to position it as a competitive advantage.

Jedi Master

At this level, you are finally at a point where you’ve unlocked much of the potential of the Force and can fully use your knowledge to inspire and benefit others.

A word of warning: with such great powers, you might find yourself tempted to cross to the Dark Side and begin misusing your capabilities. Some practices that could lead you to lose your way and following the tradition of the Sith Lords include:

  • Not providing a secure, private digital experience for guests
  • Sending guests impersonal, spam-like communication that provides no benefit to personalizing or enhancing their stay
  • Being reckless with information that guests trust you to safeguard, such as their name, preferences or payment data
  • Implementing technology that fails to serve a purpose or is difficult to use for both guests and staff

Becoming a Master in mobile technology is a challenge that can provide continuous returns on your investment if you seriously dedicate yourself to learning and implementing the appropriate innovation for your hotel or brand. Commit to expanding your use of technology in 2016 to unlock rewards that will help you remain a relevant player in an increasingly competitive market.

Executive Insight: Turn INTELITY Into Revenue This Holiday Season

EXECUTIVE INSIGHT

This post provides insight directly from a member of our executive committee, CEO & President David Adelson.

I wanted to offer a few tips on using technology this holiday season to capitalize on opportunities for revenue intake.

To start off, revenue management is defined most simply as selling the right thing to the right customer at the right price and time. It’s a newer science, but one that is necessary with recent changes to the landscape of the hospitality industry. It’s harder than ever to know who customers are, what they want, and what price they’re willing to pay for it.

But what if guests could tell you exactly what it was they wanted? What if you could get reliable information pertinent to building a robust revenue management strategy fed directly to you?

Before many of today’s technologies became available to hoteliers, a lot of revenue management was manual and difficult to track. Most hoteliers lacked the resources to effectively track all of the factors that play a part in knowing how to maximize revenue. Now, digital systems can provide more information than ever, and they can do it quickly and without the same amount of manual effort.

It’s something that was never before possible.

As one example of a digital system providing such benefits, INTELITY’s platform offers simple tools that combine digital access to hotel services with features designed to provide information about guest activity and preference to improve a hotel’s operations.

Guests can place food and beverage orders through a mobile interface on any variety of devices, from mobile guest apps and in-room tablets to laptops, and these are communicated directly into a back-end platform accessible by authorized members of the management or staff without a need for manual data re-entry. Guests can also make reservations at any of the property facilities, such as a restaurant or spa, feeding more behavioral information into the system for hotelier review.

Being able to access insight about guest demand and resource usage is invaluable to a hotelier looking to increase profits. In fact, all of the business intelligence available through the INTELITY Staff platform is easily accessible and potentially beneficial to increasing revenue and adjusting strategy to better anticipate demand, which consequently increases satisfaction.

Here are two general tips for using technology to enhance revenue opportunities this holiday season:

1. Pay attention to guests

Most people use technology as a way to connect, and there’s no better way for a business to connect to its customers. Participating in conversations with guests via digital channels is important all year, but more than ever during the holiday season, which is one of the peak seasons for the industry.

Make sure to have staff assigned around-the-clock to monitor and engage with guests on all channels, from online review sites to your social media accounts. It’s a stressful time of year, so you want to make sure your team is providing enhanced customer service in the right tone to alleviate your guests’ concerns or thank them appropriately if they offer appreciation for you making their season a little brighter.

2. Offer gifts

It’s better to give than to receive, and who doesn’t like gifts during this time of year? And there are plenty of gifts that your guests would love. Don’t just limit this to special room rates, although those are always appreciated. Discounts to use at the property during a stay is another great offering. A percentage off a mistletoe martini or a room service delivery of roast turkey is an offering that will have guests in good cheer.

It adds value for you to make these special offerings through your website or mobile app to increase traffic and number of app downloads. It also provides an incentive for your guests to actively engage with you via mobile technology to establish a long-term connection beyond their stay.

I wish everyone a successful holiday season, and if you want more ideas on increasing revenue all year long, schedule a demo with my team to get information about the latest innovations in hospitality technology, from mobile keyless room entry to in-room guest service tablets.