Director of Sales and Marketing Rebecca Huetter shares how Fairmont Miramar pivoted to a safe, digital guest experience during the pandemic shutdown.
Like many hotels across the United States, the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica was stunned when travel ground to a halt in March. As they suspended operations, they turned to planning for the future with a single-minded focus and asked one big question: “How can we make the hotel safe?”
From Accor Hospitality Group, the Fairmont brand’s parent company, came a new set of comprehensive guidelines called ALL Stay Well. Formulated by both Accor leadership and high-profile business and safety advisors, the new guidelines represent some of the most stringent cleaning standards and operational procedures in the hospitality industry.
And for Fairmont Miramar, there was even more work to be done. By the time they reopened on July 1, there had been a seismic shift in every part of the guest experience. Glass shields were implemented throughout the property, temperature check kiosks stood at both guest and staff entrances, masks became mandatory, waitstaff wore face shields, and more.
Long before the pandemic struck, the forward-thinking hotel had already implemented a number of digital improvements to their property: INTELITY tablets for every room, a customized Fairmont app, and GEMS, INTELITY’s back-office staff management system. Immediately, Fairmont Miramar began thinking of ways to expand their digital services and provide a contactless experience as guests returned to travel. Currently, INTELITY’s mobile check-in and mobile key solutions are also being implemented at the property to further their safety measures and allow fully contactless, keyless entry.
“What has been surprising is the ease of adaptability for everybody,” says Rebecca Huetter, Director of Marketing at Fairmont Miramar. “This has really moved quite a few industries extremely far forward in a very short amount of time. It’s forced people to do what would typically take 10 years to do in basically 3-4 months.”
Today, all printed collateral has been removed from the property. Instead, guests rely on their in-room tablets, which are updated constantly by staff with real-time information and promotions, or the mobile app, which allows them to request service, order food, and more directly from their smartphone.
In the hotel restaurant, guests no longer receive a printed menu, but instead scan a QR code to see their dining options—removing yet another hard-to-clean touchpoint and allowing the hotel, which updates their menu weekly, to make updates without any reprinting. “What we did was visualize every step of the guest and staff experience,” explains Huetter, “then ask: where can we make changes? Where can we remove waste and remove unnecessary touchpoints?”
In fully embracing the INTELITY platform, with mobile, in-room, and staff technology in place to ensure safety and convenience, they’ve come to find that technology can be a phenomenal resource to deliver the high level of service guests are looking for in a new way. How are guests responding? Huetter shares that this was a major concern for the hotel, but that the worry has largely faded.
“When people first started coming in, there was a hesitancy and a tentativeness. That’s really subsided dramatically. People are getting used to traveling and being in public places,” she notes. In addition to the more adventurous guests who have resumed travel, there’s a tremendous amount of locals who visit the property— to get their morning coffee, dine, or join happy hour activities. They’ve returned to their routines in a new way, with distanced tables and digital menus.
In fact, Fairmont Miramar has seen a significant shift in guest attitudes. Without the option of print materials, guests rely on the digital compendium more than ever. Instead of going to the printed collateral out of habit, guests of all ages are checking the iPads and their smartphones to find updates and information about the property, activities, and menu.
According to Huetter, the hotel has likely changed forever. Some concern lingers as more hesitant guests have not yet returned to travel, but she’s increasingly optimistic about the future, saying, “Overall, we really haven’t seen people feeling offended or put out by any safety measures. In fact, we’re getting a substantial amount of reviews and comments from guests saying how safe they felt and that they were very appreciative of the efforts.”
When asked about advice for other hoteliers, Huetter shares, “First and foremost: think about other people. Wear that mask and be socially distanced. But beyond that, know that if you embrace innovation and change, then guests will embrace it, too.”
Interested in how your property can transform safety and guest satisfaction with technology? Request a demo of the INTELITY mobile, in-room, and staff platform.