The "IT” Factor in Service...How Does the Information Technology Team Fit into Today’s Guest Experience?

By Roberta Nedry President and Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | April 15, 2012

The IT or technology team is not always on the front line of attention when it comes to Guest Service skills. Their roles and guest demand for technology services has increased and is going up and yet, guest service may not be a priority in this department. How can these team members be better prepared for making the service excellence difference?

Guests are lined up at the front desk, sales clients are calling, room service is backed up and temperatures all over the hotel are rising. The computer systems are down and panic is spreading quickly as the IT phones start ringing off the hook. The fix is not fast enough for anyone on the front line as demand for immediate solutions becomes more intense. The technology team slips into analytic action and begins to try to determine who to help first.

How does the Information Technology team in any hospitality environment respond to technology snafus that impact service delivery? Do the individuals in those roles understand the emotional domino effect of technology frustrations on employees which then also impact guests? Are IT teams oriented or trained to understand that they are providing customer service to internal customers, the employees and do they comprehend the behaviors that will add or decrease anxiety in these anxiety –producing situations?

Most employees in a technology role probably begin with a different mindset. They are trained to understand the intricacies and nuances of machines, software and the internet. They are probably not trained to understand the intricacies and nuances of the humans and the emotions around them. Frontline personnel are trained to anticipate, be proactive and responsive to guest needs. Technology teams are trained to anticipate, analyze and be responsive to machine and software needs. Integrating the two philosophies and approaches can lead to productive new strategies to benefit both employees and guests.

When an emergency takes place or the unexpected internet disruption takes place, how does the front line of technology help the front line of guest service so service to guests is not disrupted or displaced for too long?

In some small properties, the traditional hotel engineer has been given the added responsibilities of solving wireless and computer problems when they were previously more focused on TV’s, remote controls, air conditioning and lighting. Now, with additional hi-tech duties and guest needs for immediate access to wireless and the ability to set up their hotel room office away from home as soon as they arrive, expectations are higher. Whether the problem is at the front desk, in the room, or between departments, within operations or in the administrative offices, any hiccup, long or short, can cause tempers to flare and emotions to escalate.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.