Redefining Service in A Mobilized World

By Sridhar Laveti Vice President of R&D & Global Customer Support, Agilysys | January 20, 2019

In an age when most desire individualized service that is built on personal recognition and preferences, mobile technology enables a culture of personalization. One of mobility's most powerful attributes is that it gives staff portable access to guest profiles, preferences, their stay history and consumption patterns. Using profile data, and tailoring service to guest preferences, hoteliers resonate with an emerging population that may well determine their future.

Integrated Mobile Bookings

Booking a room online is nothing new, but as people change the way they use technology, it is expected that the mobile reservation experience be not only easy, but enjoyable. Surprisingly, some booking technologies are less ideal options as they do not integrate with property management systems. This often creates a mountain of manual data entry labor for staff. Although more guests are making reservations using their mobile devices, without PMS (Property Management System) integration it can be an unwieldy booking experience. Mobile reservations are becoming more seamless, regardless of the device - smartphone or tablet. The resulting profile data must also integrate with the property's hotel management software. This integration creates a seamless and convenient experience for guests and staff alike. Not to mention it can save tons of data entry labor hours and potential data errors. Hoteliers who are the quickest to adapt an integrated booking experience stand to benefit the most.

When booking a stay, the technology can be configured to encourage restaurant reservations as well. It's one of the best attributes of seamless, mobile interaction that affects upsell revenue even before the guest has arrived on property.

Mobile Facial Recognition

What was once considered science-fiction is available today on almost everyone's smartphone. Facial recognition has already found practical uses in the hospitality industry. Since it helps identify returning guests based on their facial attributes, it is an excellent complement to a mobile PMS that helps staff personalize the experience. Digital information about the individual who has just walked through the door enables the front desk agent to personalize their greeting and accommodate known preferences such as room type, location, activities, amenities and dining choices. With mobile facial recognition, staff spend less time tracking down the appropriate profile at the front desk as staff are immediately alerted to the guest's identity with an on-screen prompt, thus eliminating the time-consuming process of looking up the returning guest's profile.

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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.