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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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.