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.
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
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!