Tristan Gadsby, CEO & founder, Alliants, the customer experience technology specialists, looks at the current state of the tech sector and why there’s nothing to fear.
“The message from the pandemic has been that customer experience is at the centre of hospitality and that, against previous thinking, it can be aided and improved by the use of technology. Before customers were calling for service to be at arm’s length for health reasons, the conventional thinking was that only people could create memorable experiences, particularly at the luxury level.
“Guests are used to being connected to all their services in their daily lives, there is no reason why hotels can’t also do this and benefit from it. Guests expect seamless service, across the hotel segments, not just in the luxury brands. They want to see the digital and physical experience connected and then supported by communication on their preferred channel.
“The use of messaging gives venues the opportunity to deliver on the long-sought-after seamless experience. Not only can it help deliver a better guest experience, messaging is also a key enabler in driving ancillary revenues - we found that there was a 90% increase in spend for users of messaging. Messaging helps to create that relationship with the guest which drives lifetime loyalty, but on their terms.
“We expect to see more adoption of messaging, from an experience point of view but also because it helps venues to operate more efficiently, at a time when team members are at a premium. If you someone can book a service or order a new pillow using automation, it’s one less thing for a member of staff to do, one less tedious task. This is an area where AI can be used in a number of ways, from translations to automated responses, suggested responses, as well as routing conversations to the right departments.”
Alliants worked with one leading luxury chain to help them achieve the number one ranking for their digital experience by L2-Gartner. The experience was overhauled and delivered an integrated property and brand platform encompassing Chat, Mobile, Tablet, In-Room Dining, Concierge, and Residential.
The results were: 8% increase in guest satisfaction and improved engagement with a 30% increase in engagement, 13 million messages in 75+ languages across 10 messaging platforms - platforms the guest chose themselves - as well as growing the mix of direct bookings faster than any other channel including OTAs.
“Automation should be used across an operation, with guests able to fill in their own details, meaning a better experience when they arrive at the hotel. There’s no need to queue up to check-in and be asked loads of questions about their address, about their credit card number. Instead it can be a warm welcome, the chance to cement the relationship you’ve started to build before the stay, by offering a favourite drink or information about a local event which you know fits with the guest’s interests.
“It’s better for the guest and it’s better for the team member if they’re not stuck doing mind-numbing jobs but can instead concentrate on what we all want: a better experience. Staff retention can only improve if working in hospitality allows for more focus on human interaction and better use of everyone’s time, guest and team included.
"Technology can also improve your knowledge of the guest and helps you to see them as individuals, which means not just personalisation, but recognition for their custom, what their preferences are and, if applicable, their loyalty. People are used to sharing information about themselves and being rewarded for that and the hospitality sector needs to keep pace with those trends.
“Now, with trading starting to wobble back to more recognisable levels, may not seem like the time to invest in technology. Hospitality has been burned in the past by expensive systems, many of them still in place, which don’t work as hoped, don’t integrate with other systems and are difficult to use.
“Those days are thankfully behind us and improving your technology stack is no longer about months of ripping cabling out of walls and condemning your teams to weeks of mystifying training. Products are now in the cloud and much more intuitive than ever before.
“But it's not just enough to just improve the technology in your venue, it is part of how guests perceive the hotel and how they relate to your brand. So if you implement systems, your execution must be on-brand: tools can lay the foundation but implementation can be the differentiation.”
Alliants works with companies including Four Seasons, Mollies and DHL, on delivering loyalty-garnering experiences.