In Newsletter #32: CNN profiles ALICE | Ballet for the Back of House | Hotel apps at a turning point?
The conference circuit is in full swing, and everyone is earning their travel points. I’m looking forward to my first Lodging Conference in Phoenix, where I will be joined on stage to speak on “What Guests Really Want.” Love to see Zappos on the panel -- looking for insights outside of hospitality is so accretive to our industry.
Despite my excitement, there is a twinge of jealousy, as the incredible Skift Global Forum kicks off in New York, set to offer TED-style gold on the future of travel. Hats off to Rafat and the team for the show they have created. We will lean on Dmitry, our CTO, for notes on the outcome of the debates from some of the industry's most innovative.
In the meantime, enjoy these three pieces below. We got our first TV audition on none other than CNN, and we cover two stories that have featured frequently in our conversations: hotel employee culture and the case (or lack of a case) for hotel apps.
Oh, and Concur buying Hipmunk is not to be ignored.
See you in Phoenix,
- Alex Shashou
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK'S NEWS...
CNN features ALICE
CNN | A Concierge in Your Pocket
Why it matters: Earlier this month we had the pleasure of being of featured in a special CNN report on "Agility in Action." In looking at industries going through transformation, the CNN team spoke to ALICE and the team at Hotel Americano, who have been using the platform to great success.
In the segment, the reporter prefaced an active look at ALICE with a description of the current financial climate for hotels, explaining how competition inside the industry and out is compelling hotels to differentiate themselves. That differentiator, she explains, can be better guest service and a more efficient ways to manage requests.
Being showcased on CNN was significant for us as a company, but is also significant for the industry more broadly. It acknowledges the broader market forces impacting hotels today, and underscores the importance of hospitality technology to future hotel industry success.
Do you really take your staff to the ballet?
Hospitality Net | JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts Introduces "The JW Treatment"
Why it matters: Earlier this month, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts launched The JW Treatment, the luxury brand’s new creative campaign, centered around founder J.W. Marriott’s famous quote: “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your customers.”
We’ve written about this insight (happier staff = happier guests) before (Newsletter 23 and Newsletter 24, for example). It’s pretty clear this thinking isn’t just lip service - the most successful and admired in our industry, Danny Meyer and Richard Branson among them, have built their careers around this idea.
While we appreciate of JW’s ad campaign, we challenge everyone to take this mantra a step further and apply it specifically to staff, back of house technology. Every minute one of your staff is spending trying to work around poor technology is a minute they could be spending maximizing your guest’s experience. Improving the staff experience when it comes to technology includes saying yes to integrations that will save your employees time spent performing routine tasks, choosing technologies that are beautifully designed, simple to use and easy to train (this will speed up your existing workforce, as well as lower training costs for your incoming staff), and also, making sure technology fits into your operations and not the other way around. Making technology work well for your staff, as Snapshot CEO Stefan Tweraser corroborates, will help your staff work well for your guests.
Maybe there’s hope for hotel apps yet
Travel Industry Today | Hotel Apps Take Off
Why it matters: Hotel apps have consistently failed to meet expectations. The big chains have poured blood, sweat and tears into mobile strategies that have not lived up the to the Uber-highs other industries have seen. Yet, if you ask anyone, you’ll find few people who do not see a strong place for mobile in the next ten years in our industry. If you really want to look that far ahead, keyless entry, robot room service and the 100-percent-connected travel experience are fair bets as well. So, it’s not surprising to see encouraging download statistics from time from time, and with 3 out of 5 business travelers in this most recent survey downloading hotel chains’ apps in the past year, one questions if we are at a turning point. The reality is not yet. A download is not as good as a transaction or a purchase, just as a loyalty signup is not indicative of a loyal guest. It is, however, a step in the right direction as it does represent an opportunity to engage and, as the good old soccer saying goes, you can’t score if you don’t shoot. Keep testing the waters in mobile.