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

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Apps for Hotel Management: How to Put the Guest First

This article was originally published on Hotel Tech Report on November 20, 2019.

Guests are increasingly interested in communicating with a hotel before, during, and after their stay via mobile apps for hotel management. They’re seeking an easy avenue to check-in remotely, explore amenities, and learn more about the property and surrounding neighborhood. Hotel apps are one way hotels have successfully met this growing guest expectation.

Intelligently integrating a hotel app within the guest experience allows your property to open a clear line of communication with guests. It’s a platform through which guests can access hotel information such as room services and amenities, check-in remotely, place service requests, book a spa service, and more. Mobile hotel apps increase guest engagement and provide a new channel for upselling ancillary services, ultimately improving the guest experience when deployed correctly.

Mobile app providers like INTELITY are leading the way in providing a thoughtful, tech-enabled guest experience. Here’s what you need to know about guest mobile apps to offer a great experience at your property.

Why use mobile apps for hotel management?

Today’s guest is mobile-first, meaning hotels must find a way to provide five-star service optimized for any device. The ability to book and edit reservations, order room service, learn about amenities and check-in remotely are all features that guests expect to manage through a hotel app. Some hotels have taken it a step further to add features that engage and surprise their guests further.

The core benefits that any hotel app must provide are the ability to increase revenue with ancillary offers; real-time marketing through targeted promotions sent through the app; and the capture of data to build guest loyalty through a tailored experience. Apps like INTELITY can do much more than provide these foundational benefits.

Great hotel apps centralize a guest’s digital experience through streamlined communication and messaging. An app should integrate with your guest messaging service and PMS to provide mobile check-in and facilitate other guest requests. The ability to skip the front desk reduces wait times and lobby traffic by 20%, which makes guests happier and frees up staff. Through INTELITY, guests enjoy easy and convenient access to staff via mobile messaging, and staff are more readily available to assist via the back-end dashboard.

Guest mobile apps reduce barriers between guests and the right on-site teams to resolve any issues as they arise and ensure requests get answered quickly. INTELITY’s guest messaging connects guests directly with operations teams through SMS, as well as in-app messaging services, like Facebook Messenger. All messages get routed through the INTELITY platform to make sure there are no missed connections. Whether it’s a request for late checkout, room service, or for extra towels, an app should be able to route these communications to the right team within your property.

And, most compellingly, the right hotel app can unlock new ways to increase guest spend. Send relevant offers through the app to capitalize on guest preferences. A great example is the James Hotels app, James Pocket Assistant. The app helps guests discover and access amenities and special offers on-site. Menus and other content are updated quickly depending on what’s happening at the hotel and guest preferences.

The changing market of hotel apps

This year, the hotel app market saw three big changes: the growth of internet of things hospitality, more personalization, and the introduction of artificial intelligence in the app experience.
IoT has taken the tech world by storm, and hotel apps are not exempt, Mobile apps now allow guests to customize their in-room experience. Lucy, the smartphone app of Virgin Hotels, has multiple features that allow guests to interact with the room. Lucy gives guests the power to adjust the room temperature, stream personal content to their room’s TV, and turn their smartphone into a remote.

Personalization options continue with the ability to map data across multiple guest touchpoints. Hotel apps can utilize smart learning mechanisms to personalize guests’ needs throughout their stay.

It’s important that any hotel app platform you decide to implement has an easy to use content management system so that you can make regular updates without contacting your vendor.  INTELITY’s content management solution, for example, enables your team to update availability across food and beverage operations on-the-fly. Management can sync changes immediately across all channels: web app, in-room tablet, and mobile app, as well as send through discounts and promos in real-time.

And, lastly, artificial intelligence will be able to dissect and analyze guest interactions, behaviors, context and language to intelligently respond and provide a more personalized method of communication. Voice activation has become more common in consumer’s homes, and hotel rooms are likely to follow suit. Voice technology offers access to instant information about your hotel and the surrounding area, as well as answers to common questions that create a backlog at the front desk.

Next year, we predict more apps to enter the market, making it vital that hotel owners consider how their app will add unique value to the guest experience. The market will consolidate, as we’ve already seen with major players like Aimbridge and Interstate merging. And, the use of mobile keys will continue to drive app adoption – Hilton guests downloaded 7.6 million mobile keys through the app in 2018.

What should hoteliers look for in an app vendor?

An app needs to provide a holistic experience at the guest’s fingertips. Here are some of the key features your app must include:

  • Mobile check-in: offer a frictionless way to skip the front desk while driving more revenue.
  • Mobile key: keyless entry leads to an average increase of 7% in guest satisfaction scores.
  • Guest messaging: SMS, Facebook Messenger, or and in-app messages to connect guests directly with your staff
  • Room service ordering: automate service request delivery, track order status, track request fulfillment time, and generate data
  • Loyalty program integrations: encourage increased engagement within your app between stays
  • Local services and content: recommend local services and POIs to market your location and help guests maximize their stay
  • Requests and ticket management: guests can make bookings with the concierge, arrange transportation or request more towels right from your hotel app
  • Room automation: control the lights, TV, AC and drapes right from your phone

Broadly, your app must integrate with your PMS, IoT provider, and service optimization software. Your property management system should be equipped relay guest info to and from the app easily and allow for guests to check-in from their phone. Integrate the app capabilities with in-room technology to control features (lights, thermostat, etc.). And make sure you control traffic with a service optimization provider that can communicate guest requests efficiently and seamlessly to your staff.

Questions to ask hotel app providers

There are more app vendors entering the market each day. Learn more about what each provider offers and make sure they can answer these three questions:

  1. Do you build that can integrate with my hotel brand app? Hotel brands need access to a complete SDK to make app functionality live within their branded app.
  2. Does your app include mobile key? Mobile key is one of the most in-demand features of a hotel app. Make sure the app integrates with many industry-wide lock vendors and hardware partners to provide a seamless experience.
  3. Does your app integrate with my existing loyalty program? Integrate your loyalty program to drive higher ROI by encouraging loyalty members to download the application. Serve more targeted offerings to increase revenue uptake and remove friction between guests and their desired on-property services.

Find out what other hoteliers are saying about mobile apps and learn more about pricing in Hotel Tech Report’s 2020 Hotel App Buyers Guide.

G2E Panel Recap: Using Technology to Extend the Casino Floor and Increase Revenue

A recent highlight of INTELITY’s attendance at the 2019 Global Gaming Expo was the panel discussion on “Using Technology to Extend the Casino Floor and Increase Revenue,” moderated by INTELITY SVP of Sales Benjamin Keller. Richard Rader, CTO of Seven Feathers Casino Resort, and Jeff Wheatley, Assistant General Manager of Angel of the Winds Casino Resort spoke with Keller about how they have successfully implemented technology throughout their properties.

Using In-Room Guest Marketing to Increase Revenue

A primary topic covered in the hour-long session was regarding guest marketing and how technology enables casino properties to better target guests while on property. Both panelists discussed the success they’ve seen in implementing in-room technology to drive guests to revenue-generating activities like the casino floor and dining through timely, personalized promotions.

Wheatley noted that “in-room tablets are huge for us because they allow us to advertise to a captive audience,” while Rader added that “selling guest-facing ads helps us subsidize our WiFi and infrastructure costs.” Not only do in-room tablets provide direct revenue and cost-saving opportunities for casino hotels, but they also enhance the overall guest experience. “We get a lot of positive guest feedback [regarding our in-room tablets] even when we don’t solicit it,” said Wheatley.

Enhancing the Guest Experience with Mobile Technology

Another technology investment that both panelists discussed extensively was guest-facing mobile apps. Rader pointed out that the decision to invest in a mobile app should be made only after understanding your existing guest behavior and use cases. Given that his property’s guest population has a relatively high average age, his investment in mobile technology is evaluated around how guests respond to the tech: “We look at our business and use cases and build our technology around that… well implemented technology doesn’t need hundreds of pages of documentation. It needs to be intuitive.”

Both panelists noted the clear return on investment with their mobile check-in and mobile key solutions. Regarding mobile check-in, Wheatley said “[our guests] have become accustomed to ‘we want it and we want it now.’ Once we’ve set that guest expectation, we have to fulfill it.” Today’s guests increasingly rely on mobile technology and expect immediate access while traveling, and checking into their hotel room is no exception. Integrating mobile check-in into a casino hotel’s guest flow means guests can spend less time in line and more time on the casino floor.

Successful Tech Implementation Requires Staff Training

To wrap the session, the panelists talked about the challenges of training staff members on how to successfully use technology. Wheatley touched on the importance of making sure that his staff members know how to use and manage any new technology investment, and how that is a critical component for a successful implementation. By focusing on staff training, he mentioned that he is able to effectively control costs across his organization: “Our biggest expense by far is labor costs; we’re always looking at how to become more efficient.” Mobile technology that is implemented well also creates a more efficient workflow for staff. By automating manual processes and simple tasks, casino hotels can improve their staff efficiency without sacrificing the guest experience.

Overall, the engaging panel discussion provided clear opportunities for casino hotels to successfully implement technology solutions throughout their properties. To learn more about how INTELITY drives revenue and reduces costs for casino hotels around the world, contact the INTELITY team to request a demo today.

Extending the Reach of Your Casino Floor to Your Guest Rooms

How to Use In-Room Tablets to Engage Guests in Their Rooms

In-room tablets can be game-changers, so to speak, for casino resorts. In addition to guests being able to use in-room tablets for all the more familiar uses—such as requesting services, making reservations, and communicating directly with staff, as they would at any hotel—casino hotels have the added advantage of a fresh, new way to promote gaming, and special events directly to guests while they are most captive.

Operators can easily use in-room tablets to send special offers, targeted promotions, and casino floor updates in real-time when their guests are most engaged. Depending on where the property is located, some guests can even use in-room technology to gamble right from their room as some casino hotels now offer sports and other types of betting through in-room tablets or a mobile app.

One way they do this is by adding popular gaming apps to the in-room tablets and information and tips on how to play some of the more popular casino floor games. At some casino hotels, guests can also use tablets to get real-time keno and bingo results in their room, as well as to see who won daily drawings and receive real-time jackpot notifications. Using in-room technology in this manner means guests don’t have to worry about missing out on the excitement of the casino floor while in their rooms.

extending the reach of your casino floor with in-room tablets

Today’s core casino customers are generally between 55 and 75 years old and increasingly comfortable using digital devices, including in-room tablets and mobile apps, which makes adding gaming to digital devices a logical, and smart, next step. Also, once they arrive in their room and find the mobile app and in-room tablet integrated with the property’s loyalty program, they are apt to take advantage of customized and targeted promotions and other offers that encourage them to visit the casino floor.

Ultimately, casino guests are eager to spend their time gaming — not standing in lines — so a streamlined mobile check-in process means more time they can spend on the casino floor, or using the custom-branded in-room tablet for gaming while they are in their room.

INTELITY® is the provider of the most robust guest engagement and staff management platform in hospitality. The platform features multiple customizable solutions designed to help operations optimize staff efficiencies, increase revenue opportunities, and further delight their guests.

A variety of casino properties, from the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas to smaller tribal casino properties, like Angel of the Winds and Black Oak Casino, now use the INTELITY platform, and 7 Cedars also plans to implement the INTELITY platform at its new hotel scheduled to open in the summer of 2020. To learn more about how you can extend the reach of your casino floor with hospitality technology, schedule a demo with INTELITY today.

INTELITY will be attending WIGA in June, email demos@intelity.com to schedule a time to experience the INTELITY platform first hand.