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Eight Questions to Ask If You are Evaluating Guest Facing Mobile Service Technology

Learn why guests prefer both SMS and App to communicate with hotels but only when hotels have a robust task management system with staff mobile app to automate back of house processes.

1) Will guests download an app to communicate with a hotel?

Not likely unless the guest is a road warrior loyal to a big brand. Most travelers feel they have too many apps already. But they are willing to view a web app that does not require downloading.

2) Do guests like communicating with hotels via SMS or mobile web app?

Absolutely. Texting is becoming the most common way for brief communications and is easier than calling for most guests. This is especially true for pre-arrival guests or when a guest is off property and does not feel like calling.

3) Why would you want both SMS and mobile web app?

Guests have different preferences but a mobile web app has some advantages like One-Click requests for common amenities. This feature is faster and easier for guests the task management software will auto-dispatch the request to the right staff’s mobile app based on smart business rules. Also, the web app eliminates costly SMS fees for international travelers and provides a secure chat for those unwilling to give their cell phone. It also provides a way for guests to view their data (for GDPR compliance) while providing general hotel information. We recommend offering guests both options where service agents can promote the added benefits of the web app through a link in the SMS.

4) What is Back of House Task Management and why is it important?

Giving guests another channel to communicate is valuable only if staff have good software to manage the fulfillment process. Task Management software assigns a task for every service request or work order to the appropriate staff mobile app to view and update tasks. Critical information like room number, guest name, request and delivery time, task codes, and who its assigned to provides accountability and data for management reporting and trending such as Top 10 Requests, Average Response Time, Recurring room issues, etc.)

5) How many guests use mobile requests; what kind of volume can we expect?

This depends how hard you promote it and how easy it is for the guest. 10 to 20 percent guest participation is strong, but many guests may still call for some things. When it comes to overall hotel ticket volume (including internal staff) typically less than 10 percent of all tickets are coming from mobile guest facing source. This is why an automated task system is important. Some chat inquiries only require simple canned replies while others require further conversation or creation of a task to dispatch to a runner or engineer.

6) How does this affect my team; who responds to the guest?

Smaller select service or boutique hotels have less staff but also fewer texts and requests requiring a response. Larger full service hotels and resorts often have periods of high request volume which requires management to avoid guest complaints. Like answering the phone, staff need to respond quickly (under 1 minute) to the initial chat, although guests tend to be more understanding when an agent asks for more time compared to being put on-hold. Not all systems are created equal. A strong guest chat software supports many features like individual agent login/out, agent assignment order, transfer chat, active or inactive chat status and a single view of a guest’s entire conversation for each visit.

7) Do mobile requests and chat link to the guest profile and reservation?

With Guestware the entire chat conversation is visible for a particular guest stay with deeper access to conversations from prior stays. This is more automated with the Guestware Suite product which interfaces to the PMS using reservations to streamline pre-arrival planning and recognition. With non-interfaced Select product the same result can be done with a few more steps. Not all systems support this and security risks can arise without proper authentication.

8) How is the staff-facing mobile app used?

Staff-facing mobile apps are used to streamline task management, team communication and collaboration. Strong task management is the core foundation for effective work flow with these apps. Using a software designed only for team collaboration or guest texting (like Slack, Whistle and others) for task management would be like using instant messaging or texting for a help desk department. They are not designed for managing work orders or guest requests.

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