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Family Vacation: Booking

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It’s time for our annual family vacation, wherein I put my children in a car for eight hours, spend a week corralling them in a strange environment, then squeeze back into the car for the exhausted drive home. We stay in the same place every year, and I have to remind myself each year that this place caters more toward an older generation than my own. It does highlight some omissions in the planning and booking stage.

Although we are loyal to our chosen property, I always check reviews and social media for anything new before we book. This particular place has abandoned its Facebook page, and has never been on another social or review site as far as I can find. If I wasn’t already emotionally invested with this place, I would skip it. Review site and social media presence tell me that a hotel is genuinely invested in the guest experience; they want to know what guests have to say and they take the time to listen and respond. A lack thereof (especially an almost non-existent online presence) suggests an outdated property and unwillingness to listen.

Along the same lines, I will also visit their website once or twice when I start to get cabin fever and anxious for a break. Maybe this happens more than once or twice. Maybe a lot more. At this point, I’m looking for a good idea of what to expect on arrival. What does the lobby look like, where is the desk, and how are the rooms set up? For me, this phase is mostly about familiarity, but is also about setting up expectations. I want a good feel for the environment and maybe to spend a few moments daydreaming. This particular property has an excellent variety of photos and videos that showcase the property, but needs to update their site for compatibility across browsers and devices.

I tried to find some recommendations on their website, but they only offer one – an expensive, early morning lobby breakfast one day a week. I would like to see a variety of things to do, for various interests and age groups, both on and off the property. I do know the area well, but a few fresh ideas would be helpful.

This property does not employ modern means for booking (internet, mobile), so I booked via telephone. While I personally prefer not making calls, the process was quick, friendly, and efficient.

All of this aside, a great travel experience is my goal, and I know that this property has been able to provide that in the past. They have guest experience and loyalty down to an art, but may need to update if they want to continue to see new guests over the next few years.

 

5 Steps to a Great Guest Experience

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Last month, in what should have been a fairly commonplace task, I tried to purchase my dad a Father’s Day gift. Instead, I got an example of “what not to do”, easily dissectible for my article this week. Never anger a writer, they say, he’ll put you in his book. Without giving away identifying details, I will point out the five steps that would have transformed this, and most, bad experiences into good.

  1. Make things easy. Easy to find, easy to buy, whatever part the customer plays in the transaction should be easy. I would add to this that contact information should be easy to access.
  2. Contractors should be just as invested in the guest experience as you and your staff.
  3. Remember that each guest is a person who has chosen to spend their time and money with you. Listen to them and be honest, even if you have to tell them what they don’t want to hear.
  4. Meet expectations. If something is promised, whether it be on your website, during a phone call, or in person, be sure that you follow through.
  5. Exceed expectations. You can measure happiness in the space between expectation and reality – any time reality exceeds expectations, happiness is increased.

In the end, my dad received his gift, and the writing material I got out of the situation almost made up for how late it was. In the age of internet, you’re bound to be written about, but if expectations are met or exceeded you should be happy with the story your guests tell.

HITEC 2015 Wrap Up

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Our team had a great time at HITEC 2015 in Austin, Texas, last week. They all had different thoughts to share on industry changes since last year, but the overwhelming sentiment was that hoteliers are more tech savvy than ever before.

“This year, the consumers are much more educated on what is possible through mobile apps.  Last year there was a lot of tire kicking and shopping features.  This year, they came with a mental list of must have items, and were well versed in discussing it. It was a much more focused group that was shopping mobile as well as lobby this year.

“HITEC 2015 brought the brightest minds in hospitality technology to Austin.  It was refreshing to see how well educated and focused on the product they were.”  ~ Kristen Tsitoukis

“It was amazing to see the difference in the questions and understanding that the buyers had this year.  Last year, mobile seemed like a ‘cool idea’ and not really defined. This year, they knew it was a must have and understood the type of questions they needed to ask.  It was interesting to see how far they had come in just a year. It spoke to how quickly the industry changes and how we must always be ahead of the curve.

“We had competitors congratulating us and buyers telling us our product was the best they had seen on the show floor.  It was an awesome feeling.” ~ Elizabeth Robinson

“HITEC allows for a large platform to build your network as well as work with today’s leaders.  Being able to see the transformation in technology is inspiring and it is exciting to be a part of the pivot happening in technology as a whole. Most importantly, for me, HITEC also allows for today’s leaders to grow and build the future of our industry with the students in attendance who will be the leaders of tomorrow.” ~ Daniel Salazar

5 Things to Experience at HITEC 2015

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It’s been a busy few weeks at Monscierge headquarters gearing up for HITEC. We are looking forward to seeing our old friends and meeting new people in Austin, and our developers have pulled out all the stops to put the latest technology in the hands of HITEC attendees.

This year, you will be able to:

  1. Open our hotel door with a mobile phone using Assa Abloy’s Vingcard RFID technology
  2. Use the guest requests feature of our app to make requests from the refreshment stand
  3. Put our two-way SMS messaging to the test to see firsthand how easily staff and guests can communicate
  4. Experience local recommendations, wayfinding, offers, and meeting and events technology at your fingertips
  5. And our special offer available only to HITEC attendees – SMS messaging for your hotel, free for the month of July

Stop by and visit us at booth #2405.

Two-Way SMS Communication and the Hotel Guest Experience

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True communication is a two-way street, and has always been a staple of great hospitality. That is why it is so important for the latest digital communication tools to encourage interaction lest the conversation of the past becomes the megaphone of today.

We all know that careful listening to guests not only helps the guest in question, but future guests, as management gauges what is working and what is not.

Including two-way communication in your guest-facing app benefits your staff, your guests, and your ROI. Not only can guests make requests directly to the relevant department, they can also be kept updated on the status, decreasing frustration as they wait. Aside from the obvious benefits, providing two-way SMS communication can enhance just about every aspect of a stay.

During travel, hotels with nearby road construction can alert guests about delays or where to park. Guests can give the front desk an arrival time, make their preferences known, and ask for directions if needed, which decreases the pressure and frustrations of a check-in queue.

Aside from making room service or housekeeping requests during the stay, staff can also be made immediately aware of any problems the guest may have. This allows the hotel to resolve even the smallest problems (the kind that may not warrant a phone call, but will show up in a review later) quickly, increasing reputation and loyalty.

As most people know how to use a smartphone, the learning curve for this type of technology is much better than innovations of years past. However, you may want to spend some time training your staff in text responses to maintain the level of warmth and friendliness guests are used to seeing in face-to-face interactions. For more information, check out the Cornell Hospitality Report – The Mobile Revolution is Here: Are You Ready?