The rise of mobile service on-demand gives hotels the opportunity to reconceptualize what hospitality and customer service mean in the 21st century.

 

“The on-demand economy will usher in a paradigm shift similar to what was seen with the advent of the internet in the late 1990’s.”

Mike Jaconi, Button CEO

While mobile devices and cloud computing have transformed our everyday lives, little has changed in the analog world of hotel guest management. Recent guest-facing technological innovations such as in-room WiFi, keyless entry, and experiments with Google Glass, beacon technology, and Apple Watch apps, all belie the anachronistic reality of hotel operations, a Gordian Knot of disparate internal systems, siloed departments and fragmented communication. The result is often inefficient staff operations, missed revenue opportunities, and inconsistent and impersonal guest experiences.

Gordian Knot of Hotel Operations

The advent of service on demand technology, the so-called Uber for X model, and the hyper growth of the on-demand economy are the product of growing consumer appetite for convenience, simplicity, and speed. The major players in service on demand have leveraged this growing appetite and the cost effectiveness and efficiencies of this new technology to successfully disrupt consumer-facing industries. Look how Uber has changed the consumer landscape for taxis, how Netflix has challenged cable, and how Airbnb has shifted the market for low-end hotels.

Mobile service on-demand hospitality technology changes this. With an integrated service on-demand platform, hotel management can for the first time provide guests reliable and seamless mobile services through a consolidated back-end request management and analytics platform. Cloud supported, real-time mobile communication and task management can afford unprecedented insight into hotel operations and guest behaviors and preferences. The result is the improvement of daily operations across all departments of a single hotel or across the departments of many.

Service on-demand has yet to be seen as an enabler to traditional industry. In particular, service on demand has yet to be seen as an enabler to business-facing industry, such as hotel operations, where the simple point-to-point dispatch model exemplified by Uber isn’t sufficient to transform the multi-touch complexity of hotel guest-staff request management.

At a time when the sharing economy and the near ubiquity of the Uber for X model in everyday life (think Handy, Instacart, and Uber itself) have shifted travel norms and consumer expectations, it is imperative hotels leverage this same disruptive innovation to meet this change in expectations from a position of strength. Mobile service on-demand hospitality infrastructure gives hotels the opportunity to enhance their own internal operations as well as deliver the kind of superior guest experiences expected by the on-demand economy.

The Problem: The Current State of Hotel Guest Management

“The ecosystems in the hotel world are not interconnected. The things that run F&B and housekeeping or maintenance are not necessarily connected to our central reservation system…it’s just complicated, channels and central reservation and property management don’t talk. Marketing and CRM platforms don’t talk to POS. Complex, but you have to create the connected narrative."

Bill Keen, Global Head of Mobile and Digital Guest Experience for IHG

  • Guest management is currently the province of disparate legacy systems (hotel PMS, POS, housekeeping, maintenance, concierge, reservations, and guest CRM), and discrete communication channels (radio, phone calls, emails, and a troubling reliance on pen and paper).
  • For hotels, poorly-integrated, single-purpose systems and fragmented communications are inefficient and expensive, provide little means of staff accountability or transparency to internal operations, and are fundamentally at odds with hospitality tenets of personalized and anticipatory customer service.
  • For guests, internal operational inefficiencies result in poor accessibility to hotel services and real-time information, little personalization of customer service, inconvenient and unreliable channels of communications, and a potentially frustrating overall guest experience.

The Solution: A Mobile Service on-Demand Platform for Hotels

“You can certainly make a business case [for staying up to date.] Staying with older systems means that you tend to lose sight of better ways of doing things, because it seems so natural to do them the old way. But obsolescence is risk. Hotels and vendors adopting the latest technology have an immediate advantage in speed of development and flexible integration with other systems and other data sources. Older systems have trouble coping with the highly fluid dynamic relationships that characterize current trends in customer support and marketing.”

John Inge, Hotel Technology Consultant

  • The mobile service on-demand platform for hotels integrates every facility within a hotel, or across multiple hotels. It can connect to any third-party system or operate independently. Think of this infrastructure as the new Hotel Operating System: the one brain that can run all hotel facilities, staff, and other systems.
  • One connected system allows hotel managers and staff to receive, dispatch, track and analyze every guest and internal issue, irrespective of medium (phone call, text message, or in-person request). One system makes for easy audit trails on requests and provides a holistic view to all internal operations. Hotel management can analyze and forecast the performance of a single property or compare and project the performance of many.
  • Front-end, guest-facing infrastructure provides guests with the seamless mobile interaction with hotels they expect. For the first time, guests can engage in bi-directional, real-time communication with hotel staff through their mobile device, on- and off-premise.
  • This infrastructure establishes a flexible foundation for future technology innovations like beacon technology and keyless entry, without the need to introduce yet another system.

The Result:

  • For hotels, an integrated request management system increases communication and accountability of staff and leads to enhanced hotel-guest engagement. More meaningful engagement afforded by real-time messaging and detailed customer profiles can lead to higher revenues, guest satisfaction and brand loyalty. A single service on-demand platform also reduces costs and creates new revenue opportunities. With a comprehensive view to operations, hotels can for the first time determine, optimize and leverage the drivers of guest value.
  • For guests, this integrated platform delivers on their expectation of seamless multi-channel interactions and requests. Guest-facing infrastructure provides better accessibility to hotel information and staff, and improved discoverability of all hotel services and amenities. Guests remain in full control of their stay and enjoy all the hotel has to offer.

Conclusion:

The rise of mobile service on-demand gives hotels the opportunity to reconceptualize what hospitality and customer service mean in the 21st century. Hotels that embrace changes in technology and the possibilities of integrated operations can themselves help shape guest expectations and redefine customer service. Rather than view the encroach of mobile technology and cloud computing as a threat to bespoke traditions of hospitality, hotels can make a strategic investment in their future by using technology to their advantage. A mobile service on-demand platform lets hotels capitalize on the on-demand economy and exceed the expectations it’s engendered.