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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

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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!

Hotel digital concierges leverage texting habits

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

By Blog postNo Comments

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!