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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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.