“Think of it as the evolution of white-glove service for the digital age,” wrote management consultancy Accenture in their recent report on the digitalisation of the hospitality industry. More than 50 percent of all travels are already booked online, and 65 percent of same-day hotel reservations are made from a smartphone. Today, the digital experience starts for most guests when they search and book — so why not continue the digital experience when they arrive at the hotel?
Legacy Systems Prevent Modern Guest Experiences
The reality is that the IT infrastructure in the hospitality industry still runs to a large extent on outdated backend systems. To enable guest-centric service processes, hotels using legacy systems would have to invest significantly into customisation and bespoke features. Even with heavy investment, on-premise solutions for property management cannot scale to keep up with the evolving requirements to implement the most modern experiences for guests.
On top of this, the maintenance of legacy systems creates business and IT risks, as the costs for keeping them alive are significant. In a nutshell, the current IT landscape in hospitality prevents hotels from delivering the “white-glove service for the digital age”.
Cloud Communications Enable Digital Transformation
Cloud systems offer an attractive alternative for the hospitality industry. They require no upfront investments and cloud service providers maintain security and manage maintenance. Furthermore, cloud technology is scalable and adapts flexibly to evolving requirements. Whilst the digital transformation of the hospitality industry spans across the entire customer lifecycle, hotels who aim to gain market share focus on the guest experience at its core, utilising cloud communications as their competitive advantage.
One of these digital champions in Europe is Star Inn Hotels. The Germany-based chain operates 16 three-star hotels in Germany, Austria, and Hungary and focuses on the essence of hospitality: Excellent service. The foundation for their excellent service is a communications infrastructure based on Nhospitality, a cloud telephone solution powered by NFON. Nhospitality supports the Star Inn staff to provide the best services possible for their guests.
Connected Staff Deliver Superior Service
Star Inn is a rapidly expanding hotel chain and their communications infrastructure is essential to their success, supporting a consistent, seamless experience, no matter to which hotel their guests check in. Comparable to a smaller version of a contact centre, the Star Inn service staff members are available even when they are on the move. As they are digitally connected to the hotel’s cloud telephone system by a mobile app, they can be reached by their hotel extension at any time.
The mobile app is also used by Star Inn’s room service and housekeeping team, and enables the staff to mark rooms as ‘clean’ after they’ve completed their job. When the housekeeping team needs additional help from the maintenance team, they can easily contact their colleagues using the same app. The entire system is integrated with Star Inn’s property management system and accessible through one unified system interface. The built-in contact centre analysis function enables supervisors to keep track of all services and recommend service quality and efficiency improvements.
We visited Star Inn Hotels in Munich and spoke with CEO Reiner Bauch – check out this video to learn more about their cloud experience.
The Drive Towards the Digital Hospitality Ecosystem
Star Inn is just one example of how hotels can take advantage of cloud communications to enrich the experiences of their guests. Yet the digital transformation does not stop here. Technology is an integral part of people’s daily lives, and they expect a digitally-powered experience to accommodate their hotel stays: Cloud communications deliver ‘white-glove’ digital services to enrich guests’ experiences.
Seamless broadband access across the hotel property, TV power/display integration for devices, and room control options through smartphone apps are combining to form the digital hospitality ecosystem. For example, Hilton Hotels & Resorts has partnered with Uber to let guests arrange rides through the Hilton HHonors app. And after checking in, guests of another U.S. hotel chain can continue watching the movies they started on their Virgin America flight.
The bottom line: The digital transformation in the hospitality industry creates opportunities for tech-savvy hotels to attract and retain guests through unparalleled service experiences. Cloud telephone and communications systems help create superior guest experiences which make happy customers even happier, fuelling long-term customer relationships.