Blog

The Inside Scoop on Design

Today’s post is written by our own UX Design expert, Andy Hale.

design blog(1)

Design and experience shape our everyday life. At Monscierge, we take great pride and care in crafting experiences that are user-centric, beautiful and most important meaningful. It’s our job to distill the purpose and create reasons to not only download an app or touch a screen but to also help drive people with a reason to use them. The process of creating highly functional and very usable software is a challenge to say the least. It ultimately relies on a careful balance of multiple people and teams around the world, each have a critical hand in helping to create, develop and support the product. With technology and accessibility exploding around us – guests’ demand great experiences and amazing content. On a personal level, beyond simply a shift into an ever-increasing mobile-first world one of my key challenges has been a push for greater awareness in a worldwide market and being cognizant of cultural cues.

Over the years, I’ve latched onto numerous ideas, trends and gained immutable experiences from every angle of the spectrum. A few key points have emerged which I take with me into every aspect of my daily and working life and push for my team to also follow.

  • Immersive – Does it feel like one seamless experience?
  • Simple – If something isn’t needed 90% of the time, don’t show it.
  • Fast – Nothing should be slow. Ever.
  • Fun – It should be a joy, not a chore.
  • Productive – You should make awesome stuff and not be thinking about your laptop.
The experience of design touches our lives in ways we rarely even notice. How much of an impact does it make to your daily life? Do you make decisions based on design?

Highlights from our HITEC Team

HITEC

We were all excited to welcome our team home from HITEC and hear about their experience. Here is a short recap of what stood out to them.

Biggest Takeaway:

“Mobile technology will be the dominant platform in guest-to-staff communications over the next few years as hotels begin implementing the next stage of the mobile strategy.” (Christy Doherty)

“I think, for me, it was seeing how ahead of the curve we were and how our framework, scalability and price have put us as one of the top software companies for the industry. I learned how powerful it is to have a team to depend on and bring in to help and it was awesome to see how we all had each other’s backs.” (Elizabeth Robinson)

“That whoever can figure out TRUE mobile check in will be king.” (Kristen Tsitoukis)

Favorite Moment

“Putting a prospective client’s app in their hands, built and ready to go, and it being a near exact fit to what they are looking for.” (Christy)

“My favorite moment was when I looked up from a conversation and every Monscierge employee on deck was engaged with potential clients.  This was extremely encouraging.” (Klent Luschen)

New Trends

“Remote check-in via app, and an appetite amongst hotel chains to attempt this via PMS integration. PMS integration provides better options for check-out and folio (bill) viewing, but there will always need to be a human element in the mix for check-in to allocate rooms on the day of.” (Liam Walsh)

“Intelligent recommendations based on guest profiling. This is huge and the next evolution.” (Christy)

“SMS texting and mobile check-in.” (Elizabeth)

“Lots of discussion around integration, mobile check in and keyless rooms.” (Kristen)

“The interest in implementing mobile applications into current mobile strategies and the buzz around ‘geo fencing’”. (Klent)

Added Notes

 “The hospitality market is becoming more and more educated on the app/technology world and the questions we are getting are much more technical in nature.  They know more, they ask more.” (Kristen)

Reaching Out to the Hyper-Connected Generation

Hyper-Connected Generation6_24_14 copy

We believe in using tech to enhance the human connection, not replace it. But many people today so rarely look up from their phone, it’s nearly impossible to make eye contact with them, let alone make a meaningful connection.

So how can the hands-on people of hospitality reach out to these hyper-connected guests?

  1. Meet them where they are. Of course I’m talking about mobile (isn’t everyone?). This tech-savvy bunch needs information on the fly, a great user experience, and no wasted space on their phone.
  2. Tap into the subcultures. It seems that we spend a lot of time talking about the millennial generation. As a whole, reaching this group is a daunting task. They are busy, savvy, and well-informed, along with being buried in information and entertainment on an almost constant basis. So think in terms of reaching to this generation through the smaller groups to which they belong. For a great example of this, I highly recommend reading this article by Larry Mogelonsky on cross-generational word of mouth.
  3. Maintain an active and engaging social media presence. There are two fast food brands that I would use as an example. One, a certain burger joint, is often ridiculed for unhealthy food and bad marketing. The other, a late-night taco stop, is so ingrained in the young culture that, unhealthy food notwithstanding, it remains a source of admiration to Internet users. But why the divide? The taco company has taken the cheeky attitude that started in TV commercials and even in their restaurants, added a hint of sarcasm and a big dose of outreach, and turned their brand into one of the most successful social media campaigns out there. They regularly integrate pop culture and humor into their interactions, engage with users, and supply the exact kind of humor the Internet appreciates. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and their clientele has a feeling of ownership toward the brand. This strikes a chord with millennials that the burger joint has, thus far, been unable to find.

What creative methods does your property employ to reach out to the hyper-connected generation?

Deciding on App Functionality? Look to Your Reviews

AppFunctionality_6_6_14

There is no reason for any hotel to have a sub-par mobile app, but lacking time, money, or a development team, that’s exactly what’s happening. It’s frustrating as someone who looks at these every day to see that people are still being sold on technology that serves little to no purpose for the hotel or its guests. But how can you pinpoint what kind of technology to provide?

Work backward. What do your guests want? Do they want to be able to open curtains with their iPhone? Check your reviews, is that what people are saying? “I had a great stay, the room was gorgeous and the staff was gracious and attentive, but I’m taking off one star because I had to physically use my own hands to change the position of the curtains and that’s just so 2013.”

Your reviews could tell you exactly what your hotel needs to up the ante, so get creative and consider how your app can work for you.

I chose three highly rated hotels, and looked at their most common complaints. Here is what I found:

No room service. Many hotels are finding that room service is a drain on their budget, and a potential land mine for guest dissatisfaction due to long wait times and food quality on arrival. Apps can’t make club sandwiches appear at a summons, but they can be a bridge between full service and no service by offering direct messaging to your in-house restaurant so guests can at least have hot food ready for pickup on their schedule. If your property doesn’t have on-site dining, your app can point guests to quality options available near the hotel, complete with phone numbers and menus. You might even consider adding an extra tab specifically for delivery options. Just be sure that all the information your guests will need is included within the app.

Please provide more towels, shampoo, etc. Overstocking a room doesn’t make sense from either a financial or aesthetic standpoint, but often, particular guests will want more than what is provided. A property app can provide your guests with instant communication to your housekeeping staff for these types of requests, without bogging down the front desk with extra communication duties. In-app direct messaging along with multilingual capabilities will grab you that extra star in future reviews.

Late check-in. A “late” check-in is probably in the eyes of the beholder, as it can be later than promised, later than a guest is used to from other properties, or merely later than the moment the guest arrives. While technology won’t run in and clean a room (yet – I remain hopeful for that day), it can assist you in diffusing a problem before it comes up. If you have created a connection with your guest before their arrival, are they able to text the front desk and let them know they’ll be there ahead of schedule? Or what if you suggested a relaxing hangout for your guests with the promise to text them as soon as their room is ready?

Bottom line: These are three common complaints for otherwise top-performing hotels. A branded, well-designed, and useful app can help address these common issues without any need to add or remove existing staff. Want to see an example? Text Connect to 411247 or stop by and chat with us at HITEC booth #1061.

 

 

Beat out Deals Sites with Personalization

BeatDealSites_5_16_14

Shared economy sites, after working their way into the travel sector over the last few years, have recently seen some bumpy roads. I don’t want to get into the gory details, but it seems that all of the problems you think could happen when strangers borrow homes actually do happen. Nevertheless, some adventure-seekers and budget conscious travelers are looking for new ways to explore the world.

So why are people still throwing caution to the wind?

Bargain: Hotels are locked into overhead costs that homeowners simply don’t have. This keeps room rates higher than it typically costs to borrow a house from someone, especially if a few people are traveling together.

Your upper-hand: The budget seekers probably don’t want to lose their money, but stand a good chance of doing so if their sharing deal gets cancelled – even by the host. You can utilize this advantage by making your refund policies clear. An extra step would be to offer a discount for travelers who lost their previous booking. Then be sure to step up your game and show them what true hospitality is all about.

Authentic Local Experiences: Today’s travelers want to immerse themselves in the local environment and “moving in” is a sure-fire way of doing so.

Your upper-hand: Your staff should be a wealth of local information, so be sure to add this information to your website, share concierge tips on your social media sites, and provide the best recommendations on your mobile app. Invite local artists to share their work in your lobby, stay up to date on area events, and provide

Home-like amenities: Many travelers are drawn to home rentals because of the homey amenities such as a full kitchen or laundry facilities. Personally, I’d rather forget those tasks while on vacation, but I do understand the convenience and cost-saving involved with having them nearby on a trip.

Your upper hand: If you have kitchens, kitchenettes, or laundry facilities on site, be sure that potential guests can easily find them on your website. And don’t be shy about features of your property that are exclusive to traditional lodging, such as on-site security, shuttle or other transportation services, concierge, and (perhaps best of all) housekeeping.