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How to adopt express check in at your hotel

How to adopt express check in at your hotel

By Blog post

Express check in (also known as mobile check in or contactless check in) enables guests to check themselves into rooms, without having to visit the front desk. Guests often access this through their mobile phones. 

Traditional check ins usually result in multiple contact points with the hotel staff throughout the check in and check out process. This can be a time consuming process for guests, causing it to be less than appealing. 

Add to this, guests now actively seek to maintain social distancing in hotel lobbies or at the front desk. In the pandemic or the post-pandemic recovery situation, frequently, guests opt for express check in solutions at hotels to avoid crowds. 

Do you know that a digital concierge can offer your guests a way to express check in without ever having to come in contact with the front desk? See how Ivy works. Ask for a free trial.

What you can see here

Why express check in is important 

The pandemic impact on contactless travel 

What express check in means to hotel guests 

What express check in means to hotel owners

Technologies that facilitate express check in 

Benefits of express check in

Ways of adopting express check in

Express check in

Why is express check in important? 

Express check in is not a new concept. 

Even before the COVID19 pandemic hit, the traditional check in process was already tedious. 

Guests would arrive at the hotel and visit the front desk. After waiting in line, guests verified their information and handed over an ID to hotel staff. At times, they would need to fill out forms or answer questionnaires, which the hotel front desk staff would record into their hotel booking and CRM systems.

Regardless of whether guests are at hotels for leisure or while travelling for work, no one wants to spend the first 15 minutes on property standing in line. Hotels know this and were working to change this even before the pandemic. 

Contactless, or express, check in uses technology to minimize these contact points. Leveraging these technologies at various checkpoints allows hotel managers to streamline the check in process. 

How to adopt express check in at your hotel

The pandemic impact on contactless travel 

The COVID-19 global pandemic has hit every sector across the globe. Eighteen and more months after the start of the pandemic we are still seeing restrictions on air travel and health organization directives for people to avoid travel and stay home impacting the hotel industry. Research from McKinsey this year suggests that recovery of the hospitality industry to pre-COVID-19 levels may take until 2023. 

Hotels in some states in the US have already reached their pre-pandemic occupancies. Surveys show that even in these states travelers are actively seeking security in the form of contactless check in and touchless journeys. Guests say that they feel more comfortable staying in a hotel that offers digital room keys (26%) and contactless payment options (35%).

In hotels with low occupancy rates and with limited staffing, hoteliers are looking at ways in which technology can help enable express check in for guests.

What express check in means to hotel guests

Enabling guests to check themselves in makes them feel safer while speeding up their check in process. 

Research indicates that many guests in the US are anxious after 3 minutes of waiting time at check in. With an express check in, guests can bypass the wait at hotel receptions easily and get started on their vacation or work without delay.

What express check in means to hotel owners 

Offering guests the option of an express check in also reduces the workload on front desk reception staff. 

By eliminating the need to manually check in and check out every guest, staff can focus on other value-added tasks as well as critical issues. The central focus remains on creating a more positive experience for guests.

Technologies that facilitate express check in

Customer experience studies indicate that the top three technologies that would make guests feel comfortable staying at a hotel are contactless payments (35%), digital room keys (26%) and digital messaging services (20%). The same study indicated that close to 60% of hoteliers were considering/already using room keys activated by smartphone, indicating the extent to which the hospitality industry is adapting technological innovation to attract guests back to their resorts post the pandemic. 

In fact, according to a 2020 research study by Oracle and Skift, more than 70% of hotel executives were considering (or already using) technologies that enabled express check in and contactless hotel stays. 

Other technologies that support express check in include virtual credit cards, scanners at the front desk, mobile keys, QR codes and payment wallets. 

Let’s look at how these solutions are currently enabling hotels to offer guests contactless check in services. 

Mobile apps

Branded mobile apps are being used extensively by premium hotels to allow guests to check in before arrival. 

In addition to using the app for express check in, guests can also use it to browse the local attractions and in some cases, order room service, furthering contactless service.

Digital kiosks 

Some hotels offer digital kiosks at various locations on premises for guests to check themselves in. Hotels are consequently reducing grouping around the lobby during check in and check out times. 

Front desks can also facilitate express check in by placing a few devices in the lobby for guests to use and confirm their details. 

Email or text messaging 

Prearrival text messages or emails lets guests digitally process their details and move faster through the check in process. 

Additionally connecting with guests digitally opens a line of communication with the guests. This channel can then be used/continued throughout the entirety of their stay.

Digital concierges

A digital concierge is like a personal assistant who is always on hand to help. Digital concierges (also called smart or virtual concierges) help hoteliers communicate directly and easily with guests over different channels. These can be as simple as mobile text messaging or through a hotel app, or even on a website. 

Digital concierges offer a variety of services that enable a contactless stay for guests. From prearrival messaging, to express check in, to WiFi passwords and room service, guests only need to interact with the digital concierge. 

Digital concierges can handle early check in requests, manage prearrival requests and check out messaging. Some digital concierges can also leverage the power of AI to upsell additional nights or exclusive offers, impacting your bottomline, directly. 

Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas is using digital concierge technology in their 6,000 rooms to enhance the guest experience and facilitate contactless check in. 

Keyless entry

One of the main steps to any physical check in process is the room key. But hotels today can leverage technology to offer guests express check in through mobile keys. 

Keyless entry technology gives guests access to their rooms immediately upon arrival, by offering a mobile key on their device which enables them to open or lock their hotel room door. Guests can make their way directly to their rooms, avoiding the front desk altogether. Mobile keys also help hotels avoid the expenditure to replace lost keys or demagnetized key card strips. 

The keyless entry requires guests to download code to their mobile phone, which interacts with a Bluetooth enabled lock on the hotel door. Guests can access rooms using a smartphone or tablet, with the hotel desk maintaining centralised control over room access. 

Today’s travellers are already familiar with keyless entry technology. The Hilton shared that 7.6 million mobile keys have been downloaded through their app in 2018, showcasing the popularity of express check in with guests.

Digital wallets

Cashless payments have become standard across many industries including hospitality. Technology such as digital wallets is often supported by a QR code which guests can scan, and pay using the wallet app on their phones. 

Facilitating contactless payments can help guests settle bills faster during check out, while allowing hotels to stay in line with health and safety regulations. 

Benefits of express check in 

Adopting express check in is a natural starting place for hotels that want to encourage social distancing without sacrificing service quality. The goal of express check in is simple: reduce lines at the front desk by encouraging guests to check in using technology that supports the process.

The primary benefits of express check in are to prevent crowds from forming at the front desk while at the same time reduce the risk of spreading the virus. 

But let’s also consider some of the following additional, potential benefits: 

Digital records for analysis

Express check ins use technologies that enable hotels to maintain a digital record of guests’ preferences. By gathering customer insights either through pre-arrival questions or by studying their arrival and departure patterns, hotels can anticipate guests needs and elevate the travel experience.

Quality attention from staff 

Express check in saves a lot of time for the front desk staff, who often have to deal with repetitive tasks for impatient guests. By automating this system through express check in, hotel staff can focus on other more critical tasks.

Self-sufficiency for guests

It has been seen that many guests prefer being self-sufficient in their travel experiences. According to the Condor Ferries report in 2020, 66% of guests in the millennial age group book trips with a smartphone while 74% use it for research. Contactless check in, is therefore more preferable for guests who like to maintain control over their own arrival process.

Potential for increased profitability 

Express check in technologies can help hotels upsell in a non-intrusive manner. Digital concierge technologies and digital kiosks can help hotels promote on-site amenities like F&B, spa or excursions. In addition to offering a contactless check in experience, some digital concierges like Ivy can help push hotel profits

Improved security control

Express check in technologies reduce errors due to manual entry. Additionally, by using advanced technology to check identification and encode the data, hotels can ensure better security of their guests’ personal data. 

Ways of adopting express check in at your hotel 

Touchless technology is helping hoteliers bounce back from a crippling pandemic state. By adhering to strict social distancing and offering options that help make guests feel safe, hotels are beginning to attract travelers back in.  

Let’s take a look at where in the customer journey, express check in can be easily adopted by hotels. 

Before guest arrival 

Contactless check in not only impacts the front desk but can also touch upon everything from valet parking to special room requirements. For any express check in to be efficient, your hotel needs to factor in each step of a guest’s arrival and anticipate the points at which human contact can be prevented or replaced with technology.

Most hotels with express check in will open the service to guests a day prior to their travel, to provide guests with enough time to complete the process.  

But it’s also important to communicate regular check in hours with guests, for them to plan their arrival accordingly. If the guest’s room won’t be ready at the normal check in time, this too needs to be communicated (with options for them to spend their time) until their room is ready.

During guest stay  

Guests have a lot of things to remember while traveling, so it is important to remind them of the process to express check in, be it a link, an app or a kiosk. Otherwise, you’ll just have them approaching the front desk out of confusion, eliminating any contactless benefit they (and your staff) may have enjoyed. 

In keeping with the above, it’s also good to have enough visible signage which helps guests know where the check in points are and other contactless benefits that are available to them. 

Additional messaging like “we support contactless payments, room service etc., at our hotel” at key locations can direct guests away from standard congregation points. And by ingraining the habit of using contactless check in options, you can ensure guests have greater safety through minimal contact.

After departure 

The check out process can also be tedious as guests wait on hotel staff to settle bills. By enabling digital transactions, either through a mobile app, digital concierge or online links, guests can make their payments immediately, without the need to wait. Guests can use digital concierges to inform the front desk of eminent departure, allowing the hotel to conduct all the necessary checks and protocol. 

It’s also essential to have a phone number or contact information for guests to easily reach the hotel, in case of items left behind, etc. Additionally, loyalty cards and programs when integrated with the express check in/check out system can help the hotel maintain a positive relationship with their guests even after they leave.  

Any new technology takes time to be adopted. This holds true for both your guests and your staff. By ensuring sufficient support through messaging, training and feedback, you can create a safer experience for both staff and guests. And ensure your guests are happy to come back for many more, memorable vacations. 

Digital concierge solutions for hotels don't have to be hard to pick

How to get started with a digital concierge solution for your hotel

By Blog postNo Comments

As we emerge from the pandemic, hotels around the world are turning to technology to attract guests and deal with the ongoing staffing crises. One technology that is being widely adopted is the digital concierge. 

Digital concierges allow guests to navigate their way through your hotel on their own. Your staff on the other hand can depend on digital concierges to offer instant responses to guests’ requests through text messages. 

Digital concierges are smarter than ever, thanks to the power of AI. If you’d like to see how AI can automate guest interactions without sounding different, see a demo of Ivy right here. (Guests ask her out on dates, write her cards mistaking her for a human.)


What you can see here

Researching the digital concierge solution 

Know the stakeholders

The technical impact of a digital concierge


Digital concierge solutions for hotels don't have to be hard to pick

You’ve decided you need a digital concierge at your hotel. Now get the process of implementing the technology right. You want the best business results after all. 

Many managers consider investing in new technology. But often the sheer volume of choices available can make the process seem daunting. Most IT heads or hotel owners usually start by vetting software and vendors. 

We’re here to help. We’ve broken down the process into three main categories: Research, Stakeholders and Technical. 

Researching the digital concierge solution 

It’s not enough to know that you want a digital concierge to improve your guests’ experience and optimize your business. It is essential to be able to list out all of the areas of your hotel a digital concierge will impact. 

Acquiring new technology is a significant financial investment for any hotel. According to a 2020 Hotel Tech Report survey, the top technologies in demand by hoteliers are digital concierge software (3.85%), guest messaging platforms (3.71%), staff task management software (3.71%), merchandising and upsell software (3.42%) and reputation management software (3.00%). Hoteliers have a range  of concierge software to choose from. 

Doing the due diligence will ensure you stay aligned to your core objective while being prepared for the potential business impact. 

Defining your problem areas

Before considering any new technology, think of the business challenge you are trying to address. You could be focussed on elevating your guests’ experience. Or reducing pressure on the front desk. A few digital concierges can offer your guests unforgettable experiences and increase your ROI by up to 400%

Compile a list of all the business gaps your digital concierge needs to fill. Whatever your expectations are, list them out and prioritize them. Having this on hand makes your business requirements clearer. And the chances of finding a tech vendor with a digital concierge solution that best matches your hotel requirement improves dramatically. 

The digital concierge features you need

Most technology solutions (be it an app, software or platform) will offer you a certain group of features and capabilities, around various key issues such as guest communication, payment gateways, marketing outreach, etc. 

It is therefore good to start with your own list of digital concierge features expectations. List out all the requirements you can imagine being handled by a digital concierge, and group related ones where possible. 

Remember that all products are not designed equally. Knowing what you consider nice-to-have versus essential-to-have, will help you narrow down the list of potential solutions, making your search and decision-making process much easier.

Digital concierge app? software? platform? 

Finding the right digital concierge technology solution will depend largely on a clear understanding of your use cases. You can choose from desktop vs mobile browsers, mobile apps for the staff to communicate with each other and with guests and a lot more.  Some digital concierge solutions offer you all these options.  

Understanding the types of digital concierge solutions available to you can help you identify your options better.

Evaluating digital concierge vendors

Once you have an idea of the features and product type you are looking for, it’s time to start researching vendors. Eliminate the vendors that do not demonstrate any past credibility. Look for vendors with demonstrable experience with the hotel industry – you want to work with a vendor who already understands your specific challenges. 

Read analyst reports and software listings for solutions. Pay close attention to reviews and feedback from the vendors’ clients. Finally, look at the digital concierge technology that your competitors may have adopted, to see how it measures up to your expectations. 

How much will a digital concierge cost? 

Once you have a shortlist of potential vendors, it is important to understand pricing before you begin to contact them. Vendors of digital concierge technology offer various types of pricing models, and it is necessary to understand the pros and cons of these models before moving forward. 

Digital concierge solutions are usually priced on a tiered pricing model. Your monthly or yearly pricing model will vary depending on the tier you opt for. The tier model also dictates features of the digital concierge solution that will be “turned on”. One clear advantage here is that you can trial the digital concierge at a lower price to begin with and then scale as  your team gets comfortable with the solution or more modules or features are needed.  

Feature-related pricing allows you to pay for the functionalities you need. In such a scenario, you are paying only for what you need and not for a lot of seldom-used bells and whistles.

Usage-based pricing is another type of pay-as-you-go pricing model. The price is calculated based on the number of guests or the number of texts that you send using the solution. If your hotel is hosting an event, and more guests access the digital concierge, your charges that month would be higher compared to off-season or normal charges. 

By understanding the different pricing models for a digital concierge along with your hotel’s technology budget and future growth prospects, you’ll be able to narrow down an expected budget for investing. But remember to keep a small margin for additional costs such as software upgrades, maintenance, support, and training. 

Digital concierge solution: demo or trial?

While the tiered paying model may help you test the product at a lower price point, sometimes it’s good to be able to test all the features before buying. For this reason, digital concierge companies offer trial periods or product demos. And many will even offer you a test run if you ask

So if you are close to making a decision, request for a chance to use the digital concierge in your environment before buying.

Digital concierge solutions for hotels don't have to be hard to pick

Know the stakeholders

The satisfaction of your guests is dependent on more than one factor. From booking to arrival, food to room service, to local attractions, travelers want the full experience. And to offer it, multiple teams at your hotel or resort need to be involved. Knowing who your internal stakeholders are will help you in your research and evaluation.

Getting your staff onboard

According to an article by Condor Ferries, over 173 million people were globally employed in the hotel industry in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. These people include key decision-makers across Front Desk, Operations, Sales, Accounts/Legal, Concierge, Department Heads, Catering, Security, and IT teams. Hotel digital concierges enable these teams to operate together effectively, in their interaction with the guest.

Start by understanding your internal core team’s existing expectations, as they’ll be the most impacted by any new system. Change often brings in some resistance from hotel staff, but by talking to your employees and listening to their suggestions, you can ensure a smoother adoption. A few years ago, the Marriott hotels tried to implement an app to save housekeepers’ time. It ended up with a housekeeper labor contract stipulating that hotel management has to provide a 150-day notice to workers ahead of any technology rollout with job training.

Talking to key stakeholders helps gain their inputs early on, and creates enthusiasm for the new technology at all levels of the hotel. Take time to explain to employees the advantages and intended outcomes of the technology so they can support the effort to other employees later on.

Keeping the focus on guests 

Digital concierge solutions help coordinate efforts across the entire hospitality experience, keeping the guests at the center. By enabling guests to drive their own experience, hotels can meet their guests’ expectations at scale. 

According to a 2019 PwC report, 81% of travelers want greater digital customer service from hotel brands. Millennials, in particular, are keen to tailor their own experiences and gather information for themselves. In fact, 66% of millennials book trips with a smartphone while 74% use it for research according to the Condor Ferries report in 2020. 

Understanding this mindset, and more importantly talking to some of your frequent guests will unlock key insights about how a digital concierge may be utilized by your visitors. 

Digital concierge training & onboarding support 

Once you have employee buy-in, consider the technology expertise of your staff who will be using the digital concierge software. According to Gartner, approximately 75% of all system implementation projects fail because of end-user adoption problems. By providing opportunities for employee training and learning, hotels have a better chance of keeping employees enthusiastically engaged. 

Training is critical from a technology ROI standpoint too, since employees who don’t understand how to use the solution may simply ignore using it.

Training and the impact of training (like downtime caused due to attending classes) and onboarding new staff must be factored. Vendors that offer you support through your training process, can help save time and money, especially in cases of frequent staff turnaround, or temps hired during peak season.  

The technical impact of a digital concierge

It’s not surprising for hotels to be looking at opportunities to leverage technology in ways that help them keep guests happy and stay longer. Apps, websites, touchscreens and chatbots are only a few of the ways hotel owners are incorporating technology into their hotels. 

And why not? In 2017, McKinsey stated that smartphones were used in 43% of the total travel-related requests, and 23% of all logistics-related searches. Moreover, PwC states that 70% of millennials are more likely to book holiday accommodation using a technology-based amenity. Think of  mobile payments, Smart TVs, or keyless entry. 

Digital concierges help hotels focus these innovations around guest demands. By operating over seamless text messaging, digital concierges can have a very light tech footprint and a big impact.

Let’s delve into some of the key technical concerns:

Will there be tech support?

Any new technology when implemented goes through a few hiccups. After sales product support ensures those hiccups are handled promptly and correctly. 

Unless you have a dedicated IT team that can handle any issues arising from your digital concierge, it is important to consider the level of support that will be needed to ensure product downtime if any is minimized. 

Scalability of a digital concierge app

One of the key drivers of any technology acquisition like a digital concierge is its ability to accommodate growth in traffic and usage without having to revamp your entire system. 

Your choice of digital concierge solution must be geared to scale up as your business grows and its processes become more complex. 

Security concerns? Always!

Consider your existing internal security precautions before implementation. Who will have access to communicating with your guests? How will the digital concierge solution offer users control and permissions? How will it ensure the right staff can connect at the right time? Think in terms of access authentication for your managers, and trackability for system changes. 

Additionally, consider the data protection capabilities that the service provider offers, and whether all regulatory compliances have been followed. Just this year, MGM Resorts revealed a massive data breach that compromised personal information for more than 10.6 million guests, when files were leaked. Your guests will be communicating with your staff on a large scale, and it is therefore essential that their privacy and your responsibility are taken into account. 

The value of digital concierge data with analytics

Technology is generating vast amounts of data, and the key to your future hotel business value is to make that data work for you. In fact, a recent acquisition by CoStar Group put a dollar figure on just how much hotel industry data is worth. The Group purchased STR in 2019, which collates data from over 65,000 properties worldwide, for $450 million. 

Your digital concierge can help you offer true guest personalization by offering actionable data across your hotel tech systems, including guest  service. For this to be achieved, integration with an analytical tool can help uncover insights about your guests’ preferences, identify triggers that push sales, and predict surges and drops in your hotel operations before they become an issue. 

Tech integration: do digital concierges work well with other systems? 

With increasing digitization, hotel management has undergone a drastic change. From payment to property management systems, CRMs to marketing solutions, every aspect is now supported by technology. 

AI, facial recognition, voice recognition and smart mirrors are all making their way into hotels. Hilton, for example, is partnering with Netflix to allow guests to control their streaming straight from the Hilton Honors mobile app. A PwC report in 2019 states that at least eight of the leading global hotel chains have already implemented a VR experience in their marketing strategy. 

For an effective 360-degree view of your hotel operations, your technology systems need to be able to “speak” to each other. How will your digital concierge be used to handle requests for a VR experience, and upsell?  

Digital concierge must be able to integrate with existing technologies, as well as have the tools in place to work with any futuristic innovations. 

Any established technology can be a real game-changer for the hotel industry. But it is important to remember that effective implementation starts with fulfilling the basic objective for which the technology was sought. 

In a guest-centric industry like hotels and casinos, hotels should focus on how digital concierges will impact guest journeys positively. This is important to find the right solution that ticks all the boxes. 

For a more direct experience of how to get started with a digital concierge in your hotel, ask to see Ivy in action.

By 2025, the virtual concierge will become standard. When the hotel digital concierge works as it should, hotels can expect markedly improved guest experiences and guest satisfaction scores to increase by 10-30%. 

These benefits alone could be powerful enough, but hotels with the right digital concierge solution can realize additional gains operationally. 

According to a study by Oracle Hospitality and Phocuswright, nearly two-thirds of American hotel guests said it was extremely important for hotels to continue investing in new technology to enhance the guest experience. Whether you are just getting started in assessing technology or are shortlisting your digital concierge, the way forward is clear.

Want a digital concierge that has all the features and none of the things to avoid? Book a free demo of Ivy, the AI powered digital concierge today!

digital concierge in casinos

Why you should hire a digital concierge in your casino – and how to find the right one in 2021

By Blog postNo Comments

Casinos operate in a highly competitive world. Every guest counts. Today as we emerge from the last 18 months, every dollar counts as well. 

Digital concierges in casinos are at times the reason why players prefer one casino over another. They definitely impact profits. If you are thinking about bringing a digital concierge into your casino this year to positively impact your guests and your profits, read on! We have you covered.  

Have you already decided to hire a digital concierge for your casino? Try a free demo to see Ivy in action. 


What you can see here

What’s a digital concierge?

How do you know your casino needs a digital concierge?

What can digital concierges in casinos deliver?

ROI and digital concierges in casinos

How to find the right digital concierge for your casino 


What’s a digital concierge? 

Concierges and VIP hosts at casinos work long hours with normal shifts extending well beyond 8 hours. Additionally, they are often on call 24/7 – since guests and players text them even when the hosts are not on the floor. During peak season – the New Year holidays for instance – most concierges end up spending 12 to 16 hours in the casino

Sustaining this without compromising on guest satisfaction and experience is hard. Consider too that some casinos assign a single concierge to high-end guests for their entire stay – delighting guests immensely. With the current staffing crisis though, casinos are struggling to fill this role as well – leaving it to other staff members to take care of guests and players.    

What if you could extend that same level of service that comes from a dedicated concierge to all your guests? What if you could do that without additional staff, while reducing the stress on your existing team, offering contactless hospitality and keeping your overhead costs low? 

A digital concierge can deliver against all three objectives. Available to guests 24/7, a digital concierge texts with guests answering their questions in real time, with no change in enthusiasm. Beyond guest engagement, digital concierges also deliver ROI through increased game play and ancillary spend on-property.   

digital concierge in casinos

How do you know your casino needs a digital concierge? 

Your guests want it…even if they don’t tell you

Digital concierges leverage a key habit – that guests prefer to text. 

78% of people would rather communicate with businesses via text over any other method. Another survey in 2020 talks of how guests prefer to handle everything from hotel registration and meal ordering from the convenience of their smartphones. This one too flagged that almost 72% of respondents said that they would prefer to text for help in real-time compared to 42% who said they would like to talk to someone using video. 

With almost universal use of smartphones, texting with a digital concierge is convenient and will elevate their experience while at your casino. 

Your staff need a digital concierge too! 

Digital concierges take a huge load off the front desk and in-house staff. As much as 60% of queries can be automated. This means that your staff won’t be spending their time dealing with routine, repetitive inquiries. Their productivity levels are bound to increase in such a scenario. 

If you’re worried that your staff might feel insecure, don’t. Data and research from Cornell University show that staff appreciate when automation reduces the tedious aspects of their workload, freeing them to handle more complex guest queries consequently increasing job satisfaction levels.

A combination of AI powered automated responses from a digital concierge and energized staff can help you build long-term relationships with your casino guests and players.

What can digital concierges deliver? 

Digital concierges deliver delighted guests, productive and appreciative staff and more importantly directly impact your profits and profits.

Here are some of the advantages of having a digital concierge at your casino. 

Make every guest feel like a high roller

Digital concierges are always there to support your guests and answer their inquiries – even at 2am! AI powered digital concierges in fact often give guests a feeling that they are texting with a real person at the other end. Imagine offering real-time messaging and making every guest think they are being handled by a personal concierge? Guest delight? Bingo!

Build loyalty

The casino industry is known for innovation in designing and implementing loyalty marketing programs. Clubs, ratings, and tracking systems enable casinos to learn and increase the yield from their best customer programs. Digital concierges enhance this ability for casinos to use intelligent text messaging to make personalized offers and increase loyalty among guests. 

Resolve issues and improve guest experience

Casino owners can leverage a virtual concierge to offer guests quick solutions to standard issues and requests. By providing instant communication and connected services, digital concierges improve guest satisfaction and provide an elevated guest experience.

Tell you more about your guests

A digital concierge software allows you to build a knowledge base of your valued guests so you can improve guest service and easily look back into the conversation history. Surprise your repeat guests with their favorite drinks!

Centralize tracking for all requests 

Record requests and incidents for all reservations, wake up calls, transportation, room service or any other service. By using a single communication channel (text messaging), casinos can have a record of all guest interactions in one place. For each and every guest!

Gives you transparency across shifts and teams 

A digital concierge keeps a history of the conversation which is easily accessible by all departments. Concierge software provides transparency to the entire guest services team and offers an improved way to collaborate on guest requests. 

Deliver personalized, on-demand experiences

Using their mobile phones to text, guests can converse with a virtual or digital concierge to find tables, make reservations, check concert schedules, book tickets to shows. Digital concierges also enable guests to “design” their own experience. This provides an opportunity for casinos to be more personalized in their customer offerings. 

Free up staff time

Large casinos can struggle to meet the expectations of their guests due to sheer volume, especially around peak evening times, check in and check out times. 

A digital concierge frees up desk agents to allow them to focus on the more complex guest inquiries. When integrated with call centers, guests can speak directly with guest service agents when the digital concierge doesn’t have a ready answer.

Analyze guests’ interaction

Casinos, like everyone else, are trying to better understand what makes their guests happier in order to design a more appealing environment. Data obtained through a digital concierge can offer valuable insights which you can further capitalize on.

Develop a personality

Digital concierges are often mistaken for actual people chatting with guests! As a result, with the right input, the technology can create a customized persona to simulate the positioning the casino wishes to showcase, and help you stand out in a crowded industry.

Enable check in via text messages

Digital concierges can ask guests to send a text when they land, offer an express check in, and share room numbers automatically. Guests can them walk straight to their rooms or the casino floor without having to visit the front desk. No more peak-hour lobby jams!

digital concierges casinos

ROI and digital concierges in casinos 

Within the casino industry, we know that good revenue management when combined with guest relationship practices can maximize the overall profits

Digital concierges can offer up casino credit, compensations, airfare reimbursements, discounts, promotional chips, personalized discounts, shopping sprees, special access to facilities. All of these are additional revenue streams for casinos

Let’s look at some of the ways a digital concierge can impact profits at your casino. 

Extend personalized offers to players

Digital concierges can message in-house guests about late check outs and extended stay deals just before the guest’s departure. The system can be used to deploy specific, targeted messages based on rewards programs, loyalty tiers, or other players club membership levels. 

Booking benefits

According to Cognizant’s Hospitality in the Digital Era whitepaper, every time a guest is inspired to book through a provider’s proprietary channel over an intermediary, it results in savings of up to 20%. Digital concierges can offer casinos a new proprietary channel to offer reservations, by integrating with the hotel’s back-end property management and reservations systems. The technology can even be used to upsell rooms and promotions in line with guest preferences.

Perks and profitability

Las Vegas casinos today get more than half of their revenue from non-gambling sources, such as hotel rooms, retail and food and beverage sales. In fact, Caesars Entertainment generated approximately $4.45 billion in revenue from its casinos in 2019 with $4 more billion coming from non-gaming sources. Rather than bombarding your guests with marketing messages, a digital concierge can help improve your profitability by making relevant and intelligent offers in a timely and intimate way. 

Convinced? Read on next! 

How to deploy a digital concierge in your casino 

IT and tech innovation teams at casinos are leading the charge with implementation and turnaround times of advanced technologies. Facial recognition, RFIDs and data modelling are now fairly commonplace in several casinos. 

Deploying a digital concierge doesn’t involve the complexities of these advanced technologies. Often, they can be implemented in less than two weeks. 

Here are some factors to consider as you choose the right digital concierge for your casino

Touchpoints for guests and players

The first step is to research how the digital concierge will work and interact with all your departments as well as across the guest journey. By studying this, you can create a detailed map of all the potential touchpoints. Remember to include data from online and offline interactions, such as reservations, mobility and onsite events.

If you have a list of all the instances where a digital concierge can interact with your guests, you are better equipped to find the right digital concierge.  

Round-the-clock support

For any casino, round-the-clock service is essential. So before investing in any digital concierge technology, ask about the online support team or dedicated assistance to avoid losses due to technical failures or downtime.

Scalability

All casinos have periods when they are extremely busy. While choosing a digital concierge, you will need to ask if your digital concierge will be able to handle a higher volume of guests during a special event?

The right digital concierge solution will scale to your casino requirements both in terms of messaging volume and costs. 

Security and compliance

Security and privacy are critical factors to casinos, their guests and players. Consequently, the digital concierge you choose must offer the data security and legal protocols to ensure compliance with all your industry standards.

Integration with tech stack 

Collecting data to draw out insights into guest preferences is essential for you to achieve a ROI on your investment. You can gather insights only if your digital concierge integrates with your existing tech stack – PMS (Property Management Systems), CRMs and payment gateways. Check the level of integration required for each platform. Not investigating this can lead to unnecessary time and costs being added to the project. 

Pricing model

Choosing the right digital concierge depends on the feature set, implementation speed and the price point. It is equally important to consider if the solution has pricing flexibility such as paying based on bandwidth or guest use. Some product companies even offer tier-based pricing based on the level of features required. Keep this in mind as you shortlist the right vendor. 

Actionable data 

For personalization to be truly elevated, casinos must be able to have actionable data across departments. If your current data structure exists in silos, you should consider addressing this before deploying a digital concierge. 

Reporting & analytics

Advanced analytics can identify the right promotional triggers that keep guests coming back. Hoteliers have shown that they can leverage predictive analytics to personalize promotions that boost consumer acceptance rates 300% in one year.

Training

While many digital concierge products are considered intuitive to use, and no more complicated than text messaging, some vendors will offer training and can often schedule training ahead of time for new staff as they join, to ensure there are no hiccups. 

Adding intelligence: digital casino concierges get smarter

As the technology continues to evolve, we will see an increase in self-learning and improvement in communication nuances. This level of intelligence or artificial intelligence can be applied effectively to guest-facing technologies such as the digital concierge. Remember to check if your choice of digital concierge offers AI capabilities such as natural language processing and voice recognition. 

In 2021, it is becoming harder than ever for casinos to attract guests to their resorts. With digital concierges, casinos can offer guests an experience that is well beyond standardized offerings. 

For more information on how digital concierges are transforming the casino industry, check out some of the articles given below. If you would like to experience first-hand how a digital concierge can work in your casino, ask to see Ivy in action

Hotel digital concierges leverage texting habits

Hotel digital concierges: What to look for and what to avoid

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We have seen different kinds of technology make its way into our hotels and casinos. According to the market research firm, MarketsandMarkets, by 2021, the smart hospitality market will be a US$18.1 billion market, up from $5.7 billion in 2016. While some technology solutions still seem futuristic such as smart rooms and VR tours, others such as hotel digital concierges are a reality.

If you are wondering what a digital concierge is, here’s your chance to find out! Ivy by Go Moment is an AI-powered digital concierge. Try a free demo for your hotel or casino, right here.


What you can see here

Why you should choose a digital concierge 

Digital concierge: special features that are worth it 

Digital concierge: when to avoid investing


Hotel digital concierges leverage texting habits

Digital concierges at hotels and casinos are built to deliver against a key objective – providing guests with unparalleled service. They can also handle millions of guest interactions simultaneously and accurately – benefitting both hotel staff and their guests.

Want more reasons why a digital concierge could be a great addition to your hotel service? Read on!  

Why you should choose hotel digital concierges

Instant responses make for happier guests

We live in times of instant gratification. With Amazon, Uber, AirBnB, we are able to instantly shop, book rides and rooms. Guests at hotels expect nothing less. A good hotel digital concierge can understand and respond accurately in real time. The immediate response creates positivity and gives guests more time to enjoy their vacation instead of being on hold or waiting in line at a service desk. 

Texting… could it BE any easier? 

Technology that is intuitive is more likely to be adopted faster. A hotel digital concierge leverages a common habit – text messaging – to deliver guest service. A 2020 survey found that almost 75 percent of respondents would prefer to text for help in real-time compared to 42 percent who said they would like to talk to someone using video. Digital concierges help you connect with guests in the manner they prefer, resulting in a more positive experience. 

24/7 service that’s never grumpy

Even hotels with spectacular butler service cannot (and will not) be able to promise 24/7 presence at every guest’s side. A digital concierge can. They are close at hand since they are accessible by guests on their smartphones and can address guest requirements at any time of the day or night. There will be no difference in how digital concierges respond to guests even at 2 am. 

Guests take charge of their interactions

Hotel digital concierges are always conveniently available and, what is more, are not interruptive. For instance, guests can request something from the digital concierge in the midst of a meeting and then check for responses after the meeting has concluded. Alternatively, guests who prefer do-it-yourself interactions to avoid dealing with a human being can complete tasks like virtual check-out through the digital concierge. 

Switch between digital concierge and human… seamlessly

Some digital concierges can handle up to 60% of guest inquiries that usually come to your front desk – freeing your staff from a lot of the repetitive, monotonous work. When a digital concierge cannot solve a guest issue, the digital concierge solution can escalate the matter to a human (hotel staff) counterpart. That hand-off is executed seamlessly, and the staff member can quickly follow up without the guest having to repeat their inquiry again. 

Bypass the check in jams

We know that many American guests become anxious after just three minutes of waiting to check in, with satisfaction scores dropping by 50 points after five minutes. Digital concierges enable hotels to offer guests express check in reducing frustration and allowing guests to proceed directly to their rooms.

Gets you those positive reviews

Sometimes asking for a review at just the right moment is all that it takes. Digital concierges have the capability, the time, and the intelligence to know when to ask. When you consider that 80% of travelers read over 6 reviews before booking, you get how critical it is to get those positive reviews. 

Hotel digital concierge Ivy delivers 400% ROI

Special features that make hotel digital concierges worth it  

For hotels constantly striving to elevate guest service, a digital concierge makes a whole lot of sense. Hotel managers seeking to delight their guests, while optimizing the internal speed of response and efficiency, should consider a digital concierge solution

In fact, many hotels are already experimenting or have fully integrated virtual concierge software at their locations. Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas has added a 24-hour virtual concierge service, in more than 6,000 rooms making them the first major gaming company to offer their guests a text messaging program with built-in artificial intelligence. 

Let’s check out some of the best features to look for when choosing a digital concierge. 

AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP)

People enjoy responding to AI with human-like qualities. A hotel digital concierge that sounds and acts human while providing appropriate responses can quickly win guests over. 

AI powered digital concierges can even understand and respond to emojis used in guests’ messages. They don’t respond to just keywords in guests’ messages but can understand the sentiment behind the texts as well. For instance, a guest message flagging the WiFi not working “The WiFi is not working” or “The WiFi is slow” will not generate a response such as “The WiFi password is xxxxxx”.

Quick implementation 

Technology, no matter how impressive, can cause problems if implementations take time. Hotels looking for the right digital concierge should consider implementation time and ease of integration with existing tech systems. There are digital concierges that take less than a week to be activated. Also, ensure that the digital concierges have a proven integration track record with your existing Property Management System.

Hyper-personalized capabilities

A casino may have different objectives compared to a luxury resort or a hotel located in the rugged outdoors. The ideal hotel digital concierge can be customized to address the specific requests of each property, including special promotions that will boost engagement for on-site activities, check reward programs standings, and upsell revenue opportunities, to name a few.

Automation and machine learning

Through advanced machine learning programming, an AI-powered hotel digital concierge automatically and continuously learns how to respond better. And the more seamless and accurate its responses, the more it can reduce the load on its human counterparts. And since the digital concierge manages mostly redundant, repetitive requests, this can also improve employee engagement, sentiment, and retention rates. 

Want to meet an AI powered digital concierge that can automate up to 60% of queries? Ask for a free demo today!

Closes the loop 

Hotel digital concierges follow a guest issue until it is resolved, which means providing both the guest and hotel staff with follow-ups and alerts until the task is complete, keeping the lines of communication with guests open. 

Communication transcripts

When issues need to be elevated to a human guest services representative, it cannot be seamless if the transcript of the guest conversation is not provided first. Such transcripts let the hotel staff immediately pick up where the digital concierge left off and can also be reviewed and analyzed later for trends and potential bottlenecks which the hotel can address.

Centralized staff portal

For human staff to serve guests and access communications transcripts, there needs to be a simple, easy-to-use dashboard that centralizes all the information in one place. Most digital concierges offer a web and mobile platform that integrates guest messaging with the Property Management System (PMS). They also offer analytics and upselling tools.

Want a digital concierge that has all these features? Book a free demo of Ivy, the AI powered digital concierge today!

Hotel digital concierges: when to avoid investing  

A word or two of caution when venturing into the world of hotel digital concierge or virtual concierge solutions. Here are a few red flags that can indicate your digital concierge software isn’t giving you value for your money. 

Lack of specialization

Partner with one that specializes in the hotel and hospitality sector and has ideally worked with properties like yours in the past. The hospitality industry has unique needs and demands, and guest services isn’t an area you want to gamble and lose on. 

Unclear guest experience focus

Avoid solutions that aren’t focused on guest experience, or try to do too much. You wouldn’t ask your Director of Housekeeping to also be your property’s Executive Chef, so don’t expect your technology to excel if it is positioned as a jack-of-all-trades either. 

Bad data management 

While travellers often love technological innovations, especially ones that offer personalization, hotel management can get complicated with large amounts of data. Offering a flawless guest experience requires your digital concierge to manage multiple queries both simultaneously and intelligently. 

Training not supported

While many digital concierge products are intuitive to use, it is unreasonable to expect that all your staff can handle new technology without some training. If your digital concierge platform requires training or on-boarding for new employees, then avoid vendors who do not include this service with their product. Otherwise, the entire training cost (not to mention employee downtime) falls to you. 

Offers no analytics 

Digital concierges offer you a unique way to know your guests’ intimate preferences, at scale. But that information is useless unless you have a way to analyze and act upon it. While a digital concierge may be able to offer a guest her favorite bottle of wine on request, analytics when integrated with a digital concierge will help you identify all the guests who have shown an interest in fine wine in the past. Inviting these guests back to your next wine tasting event is then easy!

Lacks integration capabilities

Digital concierges work well when they can “speak” or integrate with your existing hotel technologies like a Property Management System (PMS) or your CRM. In order to get the most out of your digital concierge, you need to have 360-degree visibility. A virtual concierge software that does not connect to other tools and technologies will limit your capabilities to provide superior guest experiences.

No trial

Most technology vendors of digital concierge software will either offer you a trial or provide a demo version for a period of time, which allows you to understand the product before your make your purchase. Vendors that don’t allow this have either not yet built the product or have too much integration complexity to give you a simple trial. Be wary!

Doesn’t scale  

Your hotel is a growing business, and your digital concierge should be able to scale with it. This growth can be in terms of volume of users, multiple hotel locations or even surges in bandwidth due to special events being hosted at your hotel. Without this scalability, your digital concierge will quickly become redundant, once your business becomes too big for it to handle. 

No mention of data security or compliance standards

As a hospitality business, you need to keep the privacy of your guests uppermost in mind. Digital concierge software offers direct access to their personal information and preferences. The right hotel virtual concierge must therefore come with all the data security and legal protocols needed for you to be 100% compliant with industry standards.

Lacks payment support

Digital concierges can help you upsell hotel amenities to your guests with timely, non-intrusive offers. But if your digital concierge cannot handle payments or has to redirect customers to your website or third-party payment gateway, then that can result in several lost spending opportunities. Speed is an essential aspect of online purchases, and you need a digital concierge that can rapidly support purchase decisions.

By 2025, the virtual concierge will become standard. When the hotel digital concierge works as it should, hotels can expect markedly improved guest experiences and guest satisfaction scores to increase by 10-30%. 

These benefits alone could be powerful enough, but hotels with the right digital concierge solution can realize additional gains operationally. 

According to a study by Oracle Hospitality and Phocuswright, nearly two-thirds of American hotel guests said it was extremely important for hotels to continue investing in new technology to enhance the guest experience. Whether you are just getting started in assessing technology or are shortlisting your digital concierge, the way forward is clear.

Want a digital concierge that has all the features and none of the things to avoid? Book a free demo of Ivy, the AI powered digital concierge today!

Digital concierges like Ivy are making an impact in the hospitality sector

A complete guide to digital concierges in 2021

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Guests today are increasingly tech-savvy and look for on-demand responses that allow them to be self-sufficient. Businesses that handle  guest interactions are turning to digital concierges as a way to fulfil this demand for quick, attentive and superior service. If you want to understand how digital concierges can impact your business, here’s a complete guide that has the features you can expect, how it works, and the benefits. 

Want to see how a digital concierge can deliver unforgettable experiences and ROI for you? See Ivy in action.

——————–

What you can see here

  • What is a digital concierge? 

  • Who needs a digital concierge? 

  • What can digital concierges do? 

  • What benefits can you expect from digital concierges? 

  • Where can you find digital concierges? 

  • What to look for in a digital concierge

——————–

Digital concierges are present across all industries

What is a digital concierge? 

A digital concierge is like your personal assistant who is always on hand to help. Also known as a smart concierge or virtual concierge, a digital concierge uses AI technology to intelligently communicate with guests over a communication platform (such as a website chat window, mobile app or through text messaging). It’s pretty much like having a conversation with an intelligent, well-connected concierge.

Who needs a digital concierge?

If you want to enhance guest experiences, you need a digital concierge. 

Digital concierges can be deployed in any industry seeking to enhance guest experiences.

Let’s take the healthcare industry. Digital concierges within the healthcare industry can offer a non-intrusive approach to medical services by allowing visitors to schedule appointments at their convenience thereby reducing wait times.

Are you in the events and entertainment industry? Event digital concierges can help your guests stay updated about events at their location or recommend events based on individual preferences.

Several retirement homes and apartment complexes have also opted for digital concierges to facilitate access and answer residents and visitors’ queries.

The hospitality industry has been one of the largest early adopters of digital concierges. Let’s look at some of the ways in which the hotels and casinos have started putting digital concierges to use.

What can digital concierges do? 

Quicker response, faster service

Digital concierges provide guests with quick answers while helping hotels and casinos manage guest relationships from the time guests book to after they have paid their bill, and beyond.

By handling commonly asked questions (think WiFi passwords, booking availability, room types, driving directions, restaurant specials), digital concierges take a huge load off front-desk and in-house staff.

AI powered smart assistance

Using Artificial Intelligence, digital concierges offer guests contextual and conversational assistance. Here is an example of how that would work. Imagine guests have just checked into your hotel and realize that they need a set of extra towels. All they need to do is send a text message using their own mobile phones to the digital concierge that replies instantly to confirm the number of towels and alerts housekeeping to send them up.

Complements staff 

A lot of businesses worry that bringing digital concierges onboard will translate directly into staff turnover. 

Quite the opposite. Digital concierges help staff work more efficiently than ever before. By freeing their time to focus on complex activities that require human attention, hospitality staff productivity is boosted as they handle more value-driven tasks. 

In fact, 86% of hoteliers agreed that AI improved employee satisfaction according to a 2019 report from Starfleet Research and Oracle Hospitality. Digital concierges take on mundane tasks like answering questions about WiFi passwords and driving directions, freeing employees to focus on higher-value, high-touch tasks that enhance their knowledge and performance.

Talks like a real person 

Digital concierges can also redirect complex requests to staff instantly. Your team member then merely continues the conversation — a completely seamless discussion from the guest’s point of view! 

No, ‘let me put you on to our staff’ responses. No, ‘Hi-I’m-Human-Staff-How-can-I-help-you?” reboots and painful conversational loops that require guests to repeat their requests or problems. 

A human merely takes over the conversation, and the guest is served.

Coordinates across departments

A digital concierge provides transparency into past guest interactions and requests. The staff can leverage systems such as shared calendars, reminders, and internal notes to coordinate various guest requests across housekeeping, loyalty membership, catering (etc) teams.

Clear, trackable guest communications 

A digital concierge provides managers with a single conversational thread for each guest. Conversations from the time a guest books (requests for reservations, early check in, airport transportation); to the time they arrive at the hotel and check in (wake up calls, extra pillows and laundry); to post-visit (like payment and reviews) are organized and trackable in a single thread.  

When your guest’s journey is no longer a mystery of channels and blanks, you have a lot of insights to mine and analyze. Imagine what that could do for your marketing and ad campaigns. 

Beyond keyword triggered responses

Intelligent digital concierges understand the context behind any guest inquiry. The responses are more humanized and go beyond ‘keyword triggered’ automated systems, which are limited only to general information.

This may seem intuitive or a simple benefit. But it translates into improving your guests’ experience radically. Imagine a guest being asked if she wants to place an order for a hamburger when she is in fact complaining about the hamburger having delivered cold.  

Want to meet a digital concierge that can go beyond keyword triggered responses AND understand emojis? 

Can speak more languages

Guests sometimes have a strong preference for communicating in their own language. Or are delighted when you speak their language. With digital concierges, switching languages to speak to guests is easy. Your staff can communicate too in Spanish, French or Chinese.

Digital concierges also address accessibility issues by giving people with hearing impairments the option to chat and communicate easily.

What benefits can you expect from digital concierges? 

Upsell and onsite spending

According to Hotel Tech Report, unlike resort fees, guests are not annoyed by upsell offers at hotels. You won’t be increasing revenue at the expense of guest satisfaction. Instead, guests report that relevant offers made during stay actually improve their experience.. Digital concierges score over traditional methods such as email and signage in this regard – by making offers in a timely and intimate way.

Digital concierges can message in-house guests about late checkouts and extended stay deals just before the guest’s departure. The system can be used to deploy specific, targeted messages based on rewards programs, loyalty tiers, or other special guest assignations. 

Want to see how much you can earn with a digital concierge in the hospitality industry?

Hyper-targeted advertising

The long-term impact of an AI-driven digital concierge extends far beyond a guest’s stay. Insights gathered while using the system can build better guest personas, which in turn can be leveraged for customized offers. With this information, marketing teams can create hyper-relevant, real-time messages and campaigns. And as every marketer knows, accurate personalization results in optimized ad spend with greater conversion success.

Improve online reputation

A digital concierge offers a faster resolution of issues and quicker communication of guest needs. Problems are caught and solved long before a guest decides to complain on TripAdvisor about how cold her room is. In fact, with digital concierges checking in on guests mid stay, you will likely hear about problems while guests are still on property. You have the advantage of keeping everything within the bounds of private communication channels, giving the staff sufficient time to resolve the issue and soothe concerns before it becomes a public complaint.

In fact, after the implementation of a digital concierge, Caesars reported that hotel rankings for its group of Las Vegas hotels on TripAdvisor climbed by 30-40 positions! As most hotels are aware, trying to push your positive online reputation takes millions of dollars in investment.

Boost sales conversion

A lot of time is spent by sales in checking booking dates, arranging activities and sharing information that is pertinent to making a decision. Speed is an essential aspect of online purchases, and digital concierges help move that process along by rapidly providing information relevant to purchase decisions.

Where can you find digital concierges? 

According to Chatbots Magazine, Ivy by Go Moment is currently the largest concierge service on the Vegas strip and has been deployed within Caesars Entertainment’s Las Vegas Resorts, including Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino. Currently, over 50 million guests have met Ivy!

Gustaffo is an AI-based digital concierge solution for hotel guests in Europe. It provides guests with room access, check-in, and notifications. Gustaffo’s clients include Savoy, Hotel Europa, Wandl & more.

Before you check out a digital concierge…here’s what to look for 

If you’re looking at providing your guests with a safe, autonomous and elevated experience, digital concierges are a great choice. But while digital concierges offer the hospitality industry the latest in guest experience technologies, it is essential to understand that not all solutions are created equally.

Let’s look at some of the factors to consider before investing in a digital concierge.

Pricing Model

Some digital concierges offer user-based capabilities, while others may be driven by the number of features that the solution offers. It is important to understand your business’s current position and future growth prospects before settling on a pricing model for a digital concierge.

Tiered pricing is common for most SaaS companies. Depending on the tier chosen the pricing model will vary, and with it, the depth of information or features of the digital concierge product. Tiered pricing gives the advantage of allowing a test run of the digital concierge at a lower price and scaling up once there is proof of performance.

The Pay As You Go pricing strategy relates the cost of the digital concierge to its usage: if the hotel uses more of the service, the bill goes up. This can however be hard to budget for and result in unexpected fluctuations during tourist seasons.

Feature pricing helps buyers pick and choose the specific functionality they are seeking, and pay for those features only. It helps those in the hospitality industry focus on “the sweet” features, (no pun intended), without paying for a lot of bells and whistles which may not ever be used.

Onboarding and Scalability

As buyers of a digital concierge, hotel owners also want to ensure that the new technology is adopted and used so that the investment is recovered. This requires ensuring that the chosen digital concierge offers the desired capabilities, but doesn’t need extensive people training to implement and use. Good digital concierge solutions should also be scalable to manage hospitality requirements as the business grows. It’s important to ask questions such as: How many guests can access the digital concierge system at the same time? What happens if you host an event or conference at your hotel?

Integration with PMS

To be effective, digital concierges must communicate seamlessly with third-party applications, such as PMS (Property Management Systems), CRMs and payment gateways. Digital concierges that integrate directly with existing systems also enable greater accuracy in data tracking. This, in turn, helps managers analyze information in real-time to avoid potential issues due to information silos.

Security and Compliance

As digital concierges deal with private guest information and preferences, it is important to ensure that data security and legal protocols are in place. Compliance with industry regulations and all relevant operational certifications must be considered.

Reporting & Analytics

Digital concierges help hotels uncover insights about their guests’ stays and preferences, which can impact future business transactions. The best digital concierges offer consolidated information on property operations and guest behavior. For example, a record number of margaritas being bought in May might trigger a profitable insight into hosting a bigger Cinco de Mayo event in the future.

24/7 Support

Does the digital concierge come with an online support team or dedicated assistance? For the hospitality industry, round the clock service is essential, and investors should ensure there is no loss due to downtime.

As digital concierges begin to be more widely adopted in the hospitality sector, the technology will evolve to play a deeper role in enabling hotel operators to elevate their guests’ experiences. And as maintaining guest relationships is the keystone to any successful hospitality business, you can be sure that digital concierges will be a big part of the game in the future.

For more information on how digital concierges are helping the hospitality industry raise the bar, check out some of the articles given below. If you are looking to experience how a digital concierge can help take your hospitality to the next level, ask to see Ivy in action.

Centralized guest services centers

Why hotels and casinos are doubling down on centralized guest services

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Delivering exceptional guest services is a top priority for all of us in the hospitality industry.

How will centralized guest service centers get us to this goal in 2021?

Meet Sam and Mike. Two driven, focused, and ambitious young professionals working in our hospitality industry. There are no tangible differences between the two.

Sam is responsible for delivering unforgettable guest experiences. His daily tasks all ladder up to that one job of keeping guests happy. Everyday, Sam fields guest inquiries, responds to them himself, or directs them to housekeeping and F&B teams. His role allows him to follow up incessantly with guests till their requests are fulfilled and even after to collect feedback.

Mike is a Front Office Manager. As we all know, his job covers multiple grounds. He welcomes guests, handles check-in/check-out processes, answers queries from in-house guests on the phone or in person, generates tickets for the relevant teams. While delivering on unforgettable guest experiences is an aim, often Mike is stretched thin simply checking all the boxes.

Now if we tracked guest experience, there is no debate that Sam’s focused effort would deliver better results.

Sam’s success can be attributed to the fact that the property created a role that focused on delivering unforgettable guest experiences.

What would Mike do if 6 guests showed up at the same time at the front desk and three more were calling down?

Centralized guest services

The concept of building a centralized, often offsite, team that is focused on delivering guest experiences isn’t new.

Across the US, casinos, brand hotels, and property chains have already adopted it.

Ivy, our digital concierge, is part of the tech that is anchoring these centers.

[If you would like to hear more about the properties that have established the center, get in touch. I’d be happy to share more details.]

As we emerge from pandemic-related lockdown and restrictions, and guest unease, increasing number of hotels and casinos are following suit and establishing these centers.

We need all the advantages to regain the ground that we lost last year.

What would a centralized guest service center look like?

  • Command center: Think of it as a PBX or hub that would oversee guest experiences. One center that handles all guest inquiries and requests, directs them to the right departments for fulfillment on a need basis and then follows through to ensure guest satisfaction.
  • Location and property agnostic: With the right protocols and processes in place, the command center needn’t be on property. In fact, we can expect significant cost savings if we established a command center that covered several properties at a time.
  • Time-bound follow-through: Fulfilling guest requests in a time-bound manner (remember Domino’s promise of pizzas in 45 minutes or you get it free?) is a job half done. Following through and asking for feedback at the right time increases favorable online reviews and NPS scores.

Tech adoption as the way forward

Given the staffing crisis that we are currently facing as an industry, the centralized guest service operations can lift the pressure off hoteliers and operations staff at individual properties.

Adoption of tech to staff the command center, automate guest inquiries, streamline processes is the only way forward. The idea that tech automation is destroying guest experiences or that it takes jobs away from people is an outdated one.

We have data and research from Cornell University to show that hotel staff appreciates tech automation reducing their workload, particularly the tedious aspects of it. If anything, we see that when technology handles repetitive tasks, hotel staff are freed to handle more complex guest queries consequently increasing job satisfaction levels.

[Ask about the study and the data.]

Digital concierges (and similar tech solutions) also play another crucial role during this crisis. They ease the pressure on the staff currently on board and at work at different properties. As much as 65% of queries can be automated.

Centralized guest service operations may well be the next idea that goes mainstream.

We need all the advantages that come with it.

—-

By Raj Singh, CEO, Go Moment

Photo by Arlington Research on Unsplash

man messaging Ivy digital concierge

The Importance of Real-Time Messaging at Hotels

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Real-time messaging isn’t just a buzz word or something that only applies to Gen Z travelers, but instead, it’s quickly become a critical piece of any hotel’s guest engagement strategy. In the minds of guests, the ability to digitally communicate with hotel staff without a delay has quickly gone from a nice-to-have to an absolutely-must-have. For years, the news, media and conversations have been available to be consumed instantly, right in the palm of your hand. Why should interacting with hotels be any different than interacting with the rest of the world? After all, if something about your stay isn’t to your liking, a TripAdvisor review is only a few clicks away. Shouldn’t we be able to fix hotel problems just as quickly and easily as we can post about them? 

Multi-tasking and digital communication are the new normal in 2020. Some may call it lazy or impersonal, but the majority call it convenient. Furthermore, the fact that guest expectations are higher than ever, along with concerns about social distancing and safety practices. The solution? Real-time messaging. Here are a few scenarios of how you can come out as the hero thanks to real-time messaging:

Scenario 1: The Impatient Guest

You can never get anyone on the line anymore! I’ve been on hold FOREVER!”

If this sounds like a familiar complaint, you’re not alone – every hotel on the planet grapples with managing hold times and keeping up with call volume. While talking on the phone can sometimes be convenient, it’s not always the best solution, especially during times of high demand. With real-time messaging through a smartconcierge like Ivy, you can automate up to 50% of all guest inquiries, leaving your staff more time to have fruitful conversations on the phone. At one Vegas property, Ivy saved over 10k hours of labor, performing the equivalent hours of 7 full-time employees.

Scenario 2: The Guest Who Likes to Stay in Bed

“I am SO hungry…what’s good to eat around here? Don’t really feel like getting out of this bed!” 

In many parts of the country, hotels are beginning to book guests well before they can reopen their dining rooms. That doesn’t mean you need to suspend F&B service. Instead, with real-time communication, you talk directly with their guests to coordinate room service orders and other deliveries. This creates a safer experience for both guests and staff, while still delivering tasty meals right to your guests’ bellies.

Scenario 3: The Guest Who’s Upset at Closures

I can’t believe I just walked all the way to the pool and it’s closed?!”

Reopening won’t occur all at once, as some hotel amenities will be allowed to open their doors before others. Using smart responses, Ivy can provide instant answers to guest’s questions, informing them in real-time about which services are currently available. This helps save time and frustration for both guests and staff.

Scenario 4: The Guest Who Needs Recommendations

Yay! Husband is cool with staying another night. I wonder the best way we can spend this time.”

While some nearby restaurants and attractions may open their doors in the coming weeks, others will take several months before they’re back in operation. Guests will need to rely heavily on recommendations from hotel staff as they plan their days and visit nearby businesses, and they’re not going to want to wait around to get their questions answered. Be sure to use a smartconcierge, webchat or other real-time messaging solution to quickly and convenient convey this info to guests.

Scenario 5: The Guest Who’s Having a Bad Experience

“I am going to need to remember to let the staff know the TV doesn’t work and the closet light was broken when we head out.“

One of our smartconcierge’s most popular features is the mid-stay message, which simply asks guests how their stay has been on a scale of 1 to 5. This series of messages not only allows your team to understand why a guest is or isn’t happy, but it gives them that information while the guest is still on property. This is one of the major advantages of real-time messaging — you discover any potential issues while there is still plenty of time to resolve them, helping to create better, more memorable guest experiences. 

Scenario 6: The Guest Who Needs Express Checkout

These kids are killing me! We gotta get home asap! I wonder if I can just leave the key in my room and not go down to the front desk.”

Many hotels have begun to offer express check-out in recent years, typically by allowing guests to complete the check-out process via their TV, a smartconcierge or a mobile app. No matter what solution you choose, real-time communication is key. Your guests will have questions that need prompt answers, and your team will need to know exactly when the room has been vacated. With real-time messaging, it’s easy to find these kinds of answers.

From check-in to check-out, there are dozens of cases where real-time messaging is not only helpful, but actually critical to a hotel’s operations. If you’re interested in learning more about real-time messaging and smartconcierges, be sure to reach out to us at info@gomoment.com.

three people working on a business idea

Maximize Bookings by Embracing New Technology

By Blog post

The hospitality industry is known for constant innovation and evolution, and it has become increasingly important to stay up-to-date with the latest tech products and services. After all, the best technology not only attracts guests to your property, but it also ensures that each guest has a safe, enjoyable stay that leaves them excited to return and share their experience with others. This, in turn, can help you to maximize bookings and drive as much revenue as possible to your property.

The COVID-19 crisis has only further proven the need for rapid change in the hospitality industry, including a full-on embrace of innovative tech solutions. Hotels have been forced to reexamine everything from the way their guests book rooms to their housekeeping procedures to the check-out process.

The need for cutting edge technology in the hospitality industry is only growing, and nowhere is that more evident than when using tech to capture as many bookings as possible. With the help of some cutting edge software, hotels can now identify and communicate with potential guests while they’re still planning their upcoming journey, long before they’ve chosen the hotel, and explain to them why their property makes for the best choice.

While some travelers may pick their hotel on a whim, the majority of savvy customers spend a great deal of time selecting a property that best meets their needs. That’s a good thing for hotels: with the right mix of tech products, they can identify leads that their property is uniquely suited for. SEO (search engine optimization) tools like Moz and Google Trends can make it easy to optimize your marketing budget by targeting your top leads in a search engine, while analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google AdWords offer insights on your website visitors and the ability to follow up with them across the internet.

Speaking of a hotel’s website, it’s wise to consider adding an interactive tool, such as webchat, to your website in order to address frequently asked questions and encourage guests to book a room on your website, rather than through a third party OTA. As an added bonus, a smartconcierge, such as Ivy, can automatically answer many common questions, freeing up the hotel staff to spend their time creating memorable, personalized experiences for in-house guests.

Software like analytics tools and webchat can help you to identify the travelers who are most likely to consider your hotel a perfect fit, but their impact on the guest’s decision-making process is minimal compared to reading reviews. Technology can help here too, albeit indirectly, by wowing guests while they’re on property and encouraging them to leave positive reviews that influence other travelers. 

Technology that makes a guest’s visit hassle-free, or that’s simply interesting to try, is often the difference between a traveler choosing one hotel over its competitors.

Many guests, especially frequent travelers, seek out hotels with the latest innovations. Everything from state-of-the-art fitness equipment to champagne vending machines to virtual concierge can make their stay easier, safer, and more fun. It’s no surprise that over 77% of respondents to a 2019 Oracle survey wanted the ability to request room service and other deliveries through their mobile device  — much like WiFi, guests have begun to view the smartconcierge and other tech perks as a must-have, rather than a nice-to-have.

woman texting Ivy digital concierge about upcoming stay

What to Look For In a Smartconcierge

By Blog post

Everyone’s talking about hotel technology and the hotels of tomorrow. We hear about smart rooms, the Internet of Things (IoT), ambient intelligence, voice search and assistance, personalization, and artificial intelligence (AI). They may seem futuristic, but many of them are already realities. Take the AI-powered hotel smartconcierge, for example.

Like its human counterpart, the hotel smartconcierge exists to provide unparalleled guest service, a key hospitality objective. Unlike its human counterpart; however, the hotel smartconcierge can handle millions of guest interactions simultaneously and accurately. Managing this load is just one benefit a smartconcierge provides to both a hotel and its guests. There are plenty more.

Here’s a list of what you should look for… and what you should avoid when considering a hotel smartconcierge:

Considerations for Guests

  • Ease of use: Technology tends to be adopted when it’s intuitive to use; in other words when it leverages common behavior people are already used to doing. The hotel smartconcierge relies on one of the most common activities people do today – text messaging – to deliver guest service.
  • Natural language:
    Research has revealed that people prefer and respond to AI with human-like qualities. A hotel smartconcierge that sounds and acts human while providing accurate and appropriate responses quickly wins guests over. When guests are comfortable, they’ll be more likely to use the smartconcierge for future requests.
  • Instant responses: We live in instant gratification times. In the hospitality industry, that heightens expectations even further. A good hotel smartconcierge responds in seconds, enabling guests to have more time to enjoy their vacation instead of waiting on hold or in line at a guest services desk.
  • Ever-present: Even the top hotels with butler service cannot (and will not) be ever-present at a guest’s side, but a smartconcierge can be. Because it’s accessed by the guest’s smartphone, the hotel smartconcierge is likely to be conveniently located in a pocket, a bag, or on a nearby surface – waiting to address the guest’s whim or issue.
  • Guest control: Not only is the hotel smartconcierge ever-present and conveniently available, but it can also be less interruptive. For instance, the guest can request something of the smartconcierge while in the middle of a meeting and check for the response only after the meeting has concluded. Alternatively, for guests who prefer do-it-yourself interactions to avoid dealing with a human being, they can complete tasks like virtual check-out through the smartconcierge.
  • Seamless service experiences: When a smartconcierge cannot adequately solve a guest’s issue, the smartconcierge solution should escalate the matter to a human (hotel staff) counterpart. That hand-off should be communicated to the guest and executed seamlessly without requiring the guest to repeat their issue all over again. The right hotel smartconcierge can manage this process flawlessly.

When the hotel smartconcierge works as it should, hotels can expect markedly improved guest experiences and guest satisfaction scores to increase by 10-30%. These benefits alone could be powerful enough, but hotels with the right smartconcierge solution can realize additional gains operationally.

Considerations for Hotels

  • Ease of integration/startup:
    Even the impressive technology might be a nightmare to install, to transition to, and to train staff on. Hotels looking for the right smartconcierge should look for ease of integration, meaning less than a week to go live. Also, ensure the solution has a proven integration track record with their existing PMS.
  • Hyper-personalized messaging to best serve hotel objectives and guest needs: A casino resort has different objectives than a luxury resort in the rugged outdoors. The right hotel smartconcierge can be customized to address the specific requests of each property, including special promotions that can help boost engagement in on-site activities, check reward programs standings, and upsell revenue opportunities, to name a few.
  • Constant, automated learning: Through advanced machine learning programming, an AI-powered hotel smartconcierge automatically and continually learns how to respond better. The more seamless and accurate the responses, the more it reduces the load on their human counterparts. And since the smartconcierge manages mostly redundant, repetitive requests, it not only frees up employees for more high-value interactions, but also improves employee engagement, sentiment, and retention rates. Most guest services personnel would happily give up having to answer the same mundane questions over and over again.
  • Issue closure: A true hotel smartconcierge will follow a guest issue through until it’s resolved, which means providing both the guest and hotel staff with follow-ups and alerts until the task is complete
  • Communications transcripts: When issues do need to be elevated to a human guest services representative, it can’t be a seamless experience if the transcript of the guest conversation is not provided first. Such transcripts let the hotel staff immediately pick up where the smartconcierge left off and can also be reviewed and analyzed after the fact for trends and lingering issues the hotel needs to address.
  • Simple staff portal: For human staff to serve guests and access communications transcripts, there needs to be a simple, easy-to-use dashboard which centralizes all the information in one place.
  • Real-time analytics: Hotel operations leaders will want insights into how the smartconcierge-human counterpart tag-team effort resolves guest issues, leads to special offer redemptions and incremental revenue gains and improves satisfaction scores. Look for a solution that provides these data points in easy-to-absorb, real-time dashboards.

What to Avoid

A word or two of caution when venturing into the world of hotel smartconcierge or virtual concierge-like solutions: Look for a proven provider who has worked with properties like yours in the past, and further still, partner with one that specializes in the hotel and hospitality sector. The hospitality industry has unique needs and demands, and guest services isn’t an area you want to gamble and lose on. Also, avoid solutions that aren’t focused, try to do too much, or solve too many problems. You wouldn’t ask your Director of Housekeeping to also be your property’s Executive Chef, so don’t expect your technology to excel if it is positioned as a jack-of-all-trades either. Look for a smartconcierge provider that knows their lane and has laser-focus on it. Be a smart shopper of your smartconcierge selection.