New to Automated Concierge?
A revolution in automation A concierge service is offered by hotels to assist guests. Concierge staff perform various tasks such as making restaurant reservations, arranging for spa services, recommending places to eat, booking transportation (like taxi, limousines, airplanes, boats, etc.), coordinating porter service (luggage assistance request), procuring of tickets to special events, and assisting with various travel arrangements and tours of local attractions.
Data Capture Over time the Concierge staff would build a knowledge of the guests that visited regularly allowing them to predict requirements and tailor the experience.
Affordability Due to economics, many hotels no longer offer a concierge service or have reduced the role to ‘front-of-house’ staff (reception) or Customer Relations Managers (CRM) that combines the job with other duties.
Why automation? By automating we can emulate the service provided by high-class concierge staff so it is not only economic for hotels to offer it to their guests but brings with it other benefits such as income growth opportunities, automatic guest preference data capture and improved customer relationship management.
This article is prompted by a Linked-In post by Kaartik Goyal - (Head - Revenue Management at Radisson Blu) which received some good solutions to his query. What was interested about the solutions is that many of them involved offering discounts at various stages in the booking process to encourage take up of the higher category rooms. Offers and discounts can aid sales but as important is the method used to make the offer. How and when offers are made was touched on by a few of the respondents but they all called on using traditional methods such as email marketing, websites and booking services. This is perhaps where an Automated Concierge service can make a real difference in selling higher category hotel rooms.
Using an Automated Concierge service will provide a hotel with:
• An exclusive engagement platform
• Creative material providing compelling reasons for customers to engage
• Immediate access to tailored discounts/offerings
An Automated Concierge service is a great way to go. You not only get the opportunity to offer premium facilities to guests, such as priority bookings or exclusive deals using the service, you can also open the Automated Concierge service to third parties. You will be able to raise income through selling advertising space, increased networking, hosting industry showcases and creating new events.
The design of an Automated Concierge service offers guests and users of hotel facilities unique experiences, constantly improved using insights from automatic data capture of life style preferences. Having quality services that encourage word of mouth promotions and repeat usage is a great way to move your hospitality business in a positive direction.
Effective communication of your brand message is how you will grow your brand. An Automated Concierge service provides an exclusive network of users for you to develop engagement, loyalty and brand recognition through their use of the system. The flexibility of the service allows seamless integration with existing branded infrastructures such as Websites, Apps and other automated systems, to maintain consistancy of messaging.
Doing the same thing year on year and expecting different outcomes is perhaps not the right way to drive your business forward. As the Automated Concierge service is new to the hospitality industry it is serving to push new areas of creativity, which in turn is inspiring novel approaches to how things can be done going forward. This is shaking up the day to day routine of work, leading to a reinvigoration and motivation of delivery teams.
The Automated Concierge service is at the fore front of emerging strategies introducing aspects such as neuro marketing and new technologies including interactive videos and mobile Apps. The service is an opportunity to be part of developing best practices in your field to inspire your guests and ensure your business stays competitive.
The only way to go Hotels are looking at solutions to introduce automation - (Example: Internet of Business article). As a creative organisation, we have undertaken research and have concluded that an Automated Concierge service using Interactive Public Video is the best way for hotels to start realising the benefits of automation today.
Interactive Public Videos (IPV) We are all used to walking into hotels that have large wall mounted VDU displays playing video or showing digital signage information. Now imagine if the information being displayed could communicate with an App on your mobile device so you can access information about what you see, participate in promotions, make bookings, reservations, buy products, etc. Imagine no more as the above describes what we call IPV the heart of our automated concierge solution.
Advantages of using IPV
• Voice Recognition
Voice recognition is growing with talking bots such as Alexa, Siri and Google fast becoming household names. The IPV solution, therefore, has voice recognition built in for those with the capability, placing hotels at the heart of this growing trend. If viewers see something they like in an interactive video they just ask to be shown more.
• Quality Unique Service
An IPV solution offers guests and users of hotel facilities unique experiences, constantly improved using insights from automatic data capture of life style preferences. With permission, choices made can be used to inform the hotel about likes and dislikes allowing hotels to tailor services to individuals. Wake up times, type of flowers, desired newspaper, menu choices, etc. This is a great way to make staying at a hotel feel special. Imagine guests telling others about the special treatments they received.
• Immediate action
- The problem with using an ordinary video solution to engage is the difficulty viewers have when they see what they like. It is not easy to take an immediate action so many times the video fails to engage.
- The problem with App only based solutions is finding a way to encourage users to use the App. With the number of Apps available on users’ devices, especially social media ones, commanding user attention is a big problem.
- The problem with desktop/tablet only solutions is they are not portable so it is difficult to capture users' attention and decisions when they move around.
The benefit of our automated concierge service is it overcomes all these limitations with integration.
When guests see something of interest in a displayed video they are immediately reminded about the Automated Concierge App on their mobile device, taking away attention from all other Apps. They can quickly access the App to take immediate action through screen touches or voice commands. Information on the action they take can then be automatically passed to background desk-top systems anywhere around the world. No other system integrates in this way making this a really unique feature.
• Third party income
It is possible to show third party interactive videos on the system. Income can be generated by making a wider range of products and services available to guests as well as from advertising revenue.
A real break-through
The automated concierge service is the break-through that many hotels have been looking for. It is at the fore front of emerging strategies introducing aspects such as neuro marketing. It enables the delivery of a revenue generating system and with our managed service everything is taken care of. There is no need to have a website, App, Videos or have ANY knowledge of how the system works to release the benefits.
The only way to go
More hotels are installing digital screens for digital advertising and electronic signage. Linked with Digital Signage networks hotels can display various content information to customers depending on where the screen is mounted. The use of digital screens is an effective way to provide customers with up-to-date information and entertaining programs easily.
Having made the investment, hotels are unable to do anything more with the screens other than show different content at various times. A key limitation, over time, is the content can become background noise. How much the content is ignored brings up another limitation, for there is no way for Digital Signage services to actively measure engagement with the displayed content. A further limitation is communication with customers is one way making it impossible for customers to take an immediate action when they see something they like. Customers are unable to positively engage in digital advertising campaigns or promotions which waste digital signage key sales feature.
Interactive Public Videos (IPV)
An Automated Concierge service works by showing special interactive public videos on screens. IPV content has inbuilt functions allowing the content to communicate with Apps on mobile devices. Viewers can use the App to immediately access information relating to what they see, participate in promotions, make bookings, reservations, buy products, etc. It is the easiest way to enrich digital advertising services and can increase customers’ satisfaction, encourage repeat visits and increase sales revenue.
So much more
An Automated Concierge service has many benefits so you can get so much more than digital signage.
• The IPV content can be tailored for use on outdoor screens to capture passing customers. You can send information directly to their mobile devices, get them to engage in promotions, make bookings or buy products. There is real potential in using the automated concierge service in this way to attract new customers.
• You can have IPV content for hotel receptions so the screen is used for more than cutting down on printing costs. You can use the automated concierge to send information to customers mobile about the hotel (location, check in/out details, etc.), the hotel facilities offered, hotel events taking place and get them to book restaurant seats, spa treatments, rooms, etc.
• The IPV content can be tailored to hotel conference centers and meeting rooms to handle ever-changing messages, such as meeting agendas and notes with everything made available on viewer’s mobiles. It is even possible for them to change the displayed information to update the content. • On the display screens for hotel foyers, lounges, lobbies or in-room, the IPV content can send information to mobiles about the hotel promotions, local attractions, shopping information inside and outside the hotel and involve them directly in advertising campaigns in addition to them participating in interactive entertainment.
• For screens in hotel bars and restaurants, IPV content can send promotion material to viewers’ mobile devices and allow them to have fun with interactive entertainment, watch selected online TV programs about food preparation, give more details about the menus or take up special offers.
The bottom line
Making more of an investment is good business sense. The advantages of using Digital Screens for electronic signage and advertising can now be positively improved with the benefits of an Automated Concierge service. Existing screens can be part of a service that improves Customer Relationship Management, grow GopPar and RevPar and aid in generating third party revenue. That's the real bottom line.
Every hospitality management advisor will say the number one rule for running an effective and quality hospitality service is to provide the best for your guests. Yet, very few hotels employ services to manage customer experiences and many use processes that can seem mechanical, removing the human touch.
What's the problem?
Nearly every hotel will instantly say they provide the right human touches to give the best experience for their guests.
• They would point to activities such as making a positive first impression by greeting guests warmly with attentive and respectful parking attendants or door persons and then have them checked-in by a warm and friendly reception staff.
• They would talk about the attractive settings they create, such as well-kept lawns, clean rooms, operational/luxury fixtures and fittings, fresh cut flowers and even artwork for the guestrooms and public areas.
• They would mention extra amenities they offer guests such as color televisions, games consoles, cable or satellite access, coffee makers or even microwave ovens and small refrigerators in the rooms all to improve guests' comforts.
• They would perhaps contend they spend a lot of time looking for ways to be helpful to their guest by having staff do things like opening doors, holding an elevator, or carrying luggage into the rooms.
All great stuff and in general seems perfect things to be doing, but do they fully satisfy customers? Despite what many hotels hope their guest's experience is like, they may not all be ideal. How many guests walk into a lobby to stand in line waiting to be served by busy reception staff and have their welcome reduced to a regurgitation of standard hotel information? How many guests walk through a hotel, stay in their room, use hotel facilities and not once have any interaction with staff aside from the check-in and check-out? How many guests leave hotels without saying anything about their stay?
What about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems?
There are several CRM systems that allow organisations to focus on relationships with individual people. However, these systems are generally backroom processes relying on manual feeds and interpretation to extract useful insights. Also, the link between these systems and those that interacting with customers is not always addressed. When it comes to understanding customers the duties in general fall to front of house (reception) staff or the Guest Service Manager (GSM), both having numerous other activities to contend with – even with the aid of a CRM system.
If guests don’t like their experiences they would complain. Wouldn’t they?
Good hotels follow up on guest satisfaction with formal systems for feedback, such as a questionnaire card for guests to complete in their rooms and/or having staff informally greet guests with satisfaction assessment questions. In general, these methods may not always yield effective data. How many times have you been asked if something is ok and automatically reply with a yes, without considering the question? Another concern about this approach is this process general is focused on complaint resolution. If it is not a complaint very little else is done to record or reward guests that supply feedback.
Matters are made more difficult as customers can leave feedback online on sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor which, if done after the guest leaves the hotel, removes the opportunity to resolve issues and additionally opens feedback to others which may not always present an accurate or desired image for hotels.
What is difficult to understand is many hotels set up systems monitoring feedback on external review sites rather than investing in systems to avoid guests having to use them in the first place.
A more human approach
The current way of delivering and measuring customer satisfaction activities may be carried out by humans but the processes can seem mechanical, failing to deliver a truly human touch. Would it not be great, as a guest, to be met by someone that knew your name, your likes and dislikes, that remembered your life-style preferences? That gave you accurate and updated information on facilities, events, options? That could adjust offerings to suit your needs? That allowed you to feedback how you felt any time of day or night? That made you feel that your experience mattered, 100% always, not just during your stay but after as well? And best of all, this is happening every time you stayed. Wouldn’t it make you feel special? Wouldn’t it make the hotel feel more human?
An automated concierge service works with hotel staff to do just this. Automatic data capture, in hand facilities for customer feedback, on-demand information collection and personalised profiling all contributes to providing hotel staff with accurate interaction abilities. With the automated concierge service, guests can provide data before, during and after their stay. This enables hotels to have more human conversations and ensure hotels give guests the best experiences they can.
Businesses perhaps don’t care much about the science behind marketing. What’s important for them is: “What action can they take that would lead to a change in customer behavior?” So, it’s left to marketing to determine how to communicate with customers in a way that will encourage sales.
What is it that influences buying decision?
This is the question many marketers seek to answer. Traditionally, different types of surveys are used with complex analytics to turn the data into actionable outputs. The problem with using data from surveys is the reliance on conscious recollection. To explain. An impulse survey, where you stop people leaving a shop just after they made a purchase and ask them about their buying decision, assumes people understand how their buying decision is made and can articulate what they did in a way that can be made use of.
There are studies showing that consumer choices are driven by at least two main processes: an unconscious assessment of options and conscious determinations to buy. However, measuring the brain activity of human decision making, it has been found that it is unconscious thought that governs the actual selections we make. What this means is conducting a survey, asking us about our conscious decision making, is unlikely to provide accurate data.
The theory behind this statement can be found from reading “In Defense of Consciousness: The Role of Conscious and Unconscious Inputs in Consumer Choice” (by Itamar Simonson, Stanford Graduate School of Business).
Savvy businesses are starting to recognize the value of understanding human behaviors through solutions like the Automated Concierge service to make use of neuro marketing insights.
When you go to buy a product in a shop you consciously know what you are looking for however how many times when you walk through the shop do you spot something else you like and end up buying more than you went in for. This is an excellent example of how your conscious mind is being overruled by your unconscious mind.
The Automated Concierge works with this impulse decision making behavior by using interactive videos and providing consumers with a direct purchasing facilities using their mobile devices. The system is an ideal platform for marketers to employ neuro marketing techniques to make the buying experience better than using data mining or surveys which consumers may see as evasive processes. Platforms that allow businesses to act on human decision making behavior is a future that excites the academic world of Neuro science and it should also excite marketing organisations, as it is a real chance for them to expand their portfolio and improve their effectiveness.
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