Mobile's Place in the Guest Service Convergence

By Joey Yanire Assistant Vice President Mobile Access Lodging Systems, dormakaba | December 31, 2017

‘Guest service convergence' is the unifying of data from emerging and existing technologies into actionable formats that enable hoteliers to recognize their guests and provide highly personalized service. Mobile platforms and handheld wireless devices are an integral part of the service convergence. It is through mobile devices that properties are able to deliver the experience guests seek. This paper outlines the benefits and components of a thoughtfully designed and well-executed convergence of guest service solutions and the role played by mobile platforms.

Travelers want to be treated like they are special. If guests do not feel they (and their business) are important to a hotel, they will find another place to stay the next time they travel. Operators understand that loyalty and revenue are a direct results of instilling a sense of ‘specialness' in their guests. Savvy hoteliers are proactively meeting this expectation by combining data from multiple systems to deliver a personalized guest experience. This union of data, communicating systems, and mobile platforms is termed the ‘guest service convergence.'

Service convergence is based on data sharing between separate systems at one hotel or throughout a property chain. Data sharing used to be hardwired inter-system interfaces that posted outlet point of sale charges to a guest folio in the property management system (PMS). Service convergence today is a blend of Wi-Fi property networks and global infrastructures that allow hoteliers to recognize guests and provide highly personalized service and targeted messaging anywhere in the world.

Systems that exchange data to enable the guest service convergence include reservation solutions, handheld payment devices, CRM databases, mobile check-in tablets, room service devices, electronic locking systems, and business intelligence analytics platforms. Plus, there is a new family of systems that employ third-party data to create personalized marketing and welcome messages. When used effectively, these systems exchange guest and property data to inform hotel and company business processes that support a more personalized guest experience.

Mobility and the Personalized Guest Experience

Millennials spend more time on their smartphone than their PCs. This means mobility solutions and apps are becoming the most effective means of communicating converged guest services that create a personalized experience. To deliver a personalized mobile experience, properties must first develop a mobility strategy that relies on multi-process, multi-benefit apps with features guests value. The most effective apps stimulate guest use by providing benefits that include frequent stay loyalty membership rewards, mobile reservation booking, remote check-in, mobile guestroom door access, and real-time concierge and wayfinding services.

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.