The coronavirus recovery dictates quite a few new trends for hotels to ponder, foremost amongst them being the creation of a more contactless environment. This will in turn put more stress on the supportive apparatus of various technologies that enable this touchless service delivery through guest messaging applications.
Critical through this transition will be not only to adhere to COVID-related safety protocols but also to ensure that the digital forms of guest communications work in a satisfactory manner and that service levels are never compromised. Such apps with the proper underlying support can help you to expedite or automate as much of the grunt work as possible so that the leaner team you now have can focus their energy elsewhere.
Rather than replacing your front office team, though, here are five fundamental aspects to investigate for how tech can enable your associates to be insurmountably better at their jobs.
1. Cross-departmental integration. With many remaining team members now wearing multiple hats, you can no longer let any request slip by due to a lack of communication between siloed platforms. Customer service reps must be able to quickly push the necessary information to other departments like housekeeping or maintenance as well as to the PMS or CRM.
2. Respond from anywhere at any time. Due to COVID, working remotely has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to a necessity of operations. And with the expectation for immediate answers to guest inquiries, you must look into platforms that can route all incoming messages to a single dashboard so various team members can respond from their homes or anywhere on-property, and at any time of day or night.
3. Concierge exclusivity. How does your concierge or front desk provide information to guests that is above and beyond a Google search? You must now reinvent this service by intricately knowing the ‘hyper-local’ neighborhood around your hotel as well as setting up private discounts with regional providers that one cannot attain elsewhere. It also helps to stay one step ahead of Google by knowing the most up-to-date store hours or openings during a phased commercial reopening such as what we are about to experience.
4. Rapid recovery with mid-stay satisfaction scores. If a guest hasn’t had the best of experiences at your property or has a safety concern, how then can you change their minds when they’ve already left? Instead, consider sending them a quick survey after check-in or at the end of the first night so that negative reviews can be flagged and remedied prior to departure.
5. Chatbots and artificial intelligence. To reiterate a core idea behind these necessary upgrades, it is all about enabling your team to provide better overall service by ensuring that they aren’t bogged down in minor tasks and nonstop paperwork or internal phone calls. To that end, I’ve seen some fantastic chatbot programs on the market that can help to field all the basic questions posed by guests so that your live agents have more time to focus on the headier requests.
As we are now well into this nauseating new normal of lockdowns, media-induced panic and a bleak ROB forecast, the decade ahead will see all sorts of innovations for your guest communications to transition from analog to digital. If you haven’t already set aside budget for platforms that can address some of these five points, then start investigating your options in the coming months to then make sure there is adequate budget set aside for next year.