How Can Independent Hotels Digitize the Guest Experience + Use Case
Delivering a great customer experience at every stage of the guest journey is key to building long-term guest loyalty and generating repeat direct bookings.
Savvy hotels are leveraging technology to offer digital guest experiences that improve customer engagement, streamline their hotel services and increase their direct revenue.
Digitizing the guest experience in independent hotels
Digitizing the customer experience offers many opportunities for hotels, but it also entails additional financial and learning costs. While hotel chains can easily and effectively redeem the cost at scale, independent hotels may find it more difficult to get ROI on this type of investment. So for many hotels, digitization has lagged.
However, COVID19 has profoundly changed the game, forcing many hotels to rethink their processes to ensure the safety of their customers but also reduce operational costs. Suddenly, digitization has become a viable and attractive option for independent hotels.
At the same time, hospitality technology providers have evolved to offer services tailored to independent hotels that focus on:
- Connectivity between solutions
- Pricing and services tailored to the size and real needs of independent hotels to ensure a positive return on investment.
Therefore, offering digital customer experiences should no longer be exclusively reserved for hotel chains.
Use case from Acapulco Lloret hotel
In this article, we are sharing a use case from an independent hotel leveraging digital tools to enhance the guest experience and optimize operational efficiency.
About Acapulco Lloret hotel
In 2005, Damià Font took over the management of Acapulco Lloret Hotel, a family hotel located in Lloret De Mar. Damià’s long-term goal is to contribute to moving Lloret from a mass-tourism destination to a more sustainable model offering quality services and technologically adapted to the post-covid customer.
The hotel’s digitization process revolved around 3 axes :
- Boosting the hotel operational efficiency
- Optimizing distribution channels
- Enhancing customer experience
Boosting Operational efficiency
Reducing unnecessary costs
The #1 priority of Acapulco’s digitization efforts has been to get the company’s house in order. Starting with a change in its PMS from one that focused purely on administrative functions to one that could facilitate operational processes.
In Damià’s words: “Our PMS had always been a closed system, limited by options that did not effectively resolve the hotel’s daily and routine operations.”
Hotel Acapulco opted for Ubikos: a cloud-based PMS solution designed to solve the operational needs of independent hotels that offer PMS management, KPI’s, online check-in, etc.
Managing all operational processes from a single tool allowed Acapulco to:
- Have 360° visibility: Have a global view of what is happening in the hotel at any time, at the touch of a button.
- Increase efficiency: Simplify the work of the operational teams.
- Reduce costs: Buying a package including several services is 30% cheaper than having to rent several independent solutions.
In addition, Acapulco Hotel leverages Quicktext AI chatbot, Velma to answer customer queries instantly, 24/7, and in 26 languages and engage them during the direct booking process. This saves the hotel hours of work per week to focus on high-value tasks and complex interactions with their guests.
Optimizing Hotel Distribution channels
Prioritizing direct sales
The website is at the heart of Acapulco’s digital strategy. There are several excellent website publishers and booking engines. Bookassist was the preferred option.
In addition to offering the technology, the team proactively helps you define and streamline your direct sales strategy for the best results. says Damiá.
Opening new direct sales horizons
Direct sales are not limited to the hotel’s website, hotels need to manage customer queries through different channels: phone, email, live chat, Facebook, Instagram, Google Business Chat, WhatsApp…. Managing these channels individually consumes a lot of time for front desk teams.
How do you optimize direct sales via these channels?
- Phone Management: Calls are always managed by the Acapulco Hotel front desk team. The PMS is extremely agile at displaying availability, pricing, and reservations. Outsourcing calls to a specialized call center such as GIMH, in case the receptionists are not available, is under consideration.
Instant messaging: another way to reduce calls and increase direct bookings is to allow guests to interact with the hotel through instant messaging channels: web chat, Facebook, Instagram, Google Business chat, etc….
Customer requests are repetitive and responses are automated by Quicktext’s artificial intelligence. Booking requests are handled efficiently by the AI chatbot for hotels, and finalized via the Bookassist booking engine, resulting in an increase of direct sales by up to 9%
Velma, Quicktext’s AI-powered hotel chatbot, generates a reservation during the conversation by showing relevant suggestions and available rooms based on the customer’s interests and preferences.
Emails: Responding to email booking requests can take up to 1-2 hours per day with an average response time of 2-3 days, resulting in lost sales opportunities. The hotel team was able to reduce this time by using Hera by HotelResBot. This solution automatically reads customer emails and prepares an instant quote.
- CRM: Finding a CRM that works for independent hotels was a challenge because many solutions are either too limited or too cumbersome. Acapulco chose Fideltour for its great combination of features and ease of use. The CRM is also able to collect customer data from different sources such as the AI chatbot, PMS, the hotel’s website…
Quicktext AI chatbot answers customer queries instantly, 24/7 in 26 languages, and will automatically enrich the hotel’s CRM with valuable customer information such as preferences, dates of stay… gathered from the conversation.
Having extensive customer information makes it easier for the hotel to know, satisfy and retain their customers at all stages of the guest journey.
Customer data is automatically filtered and segmented by the CRM, allowing Acapulco hotel to create and automate the sending of personalized marketing campaigns to convert hesitant customers, increasing conversions by 30%.
These digitalization actions combined have allowed the Acapulco hotel to reach 40% of direct sales for the 2021 season.
Quicktext AI automatically feeds the hotel’s CRM with actionable customer Data
Enhancing the Hotel Customer experience
The Acapulco Lloret hotel aimed to digitize the check-in to focus on welcoming the guest, getting to know them better, and building a relationship with them early on.
“ The customer spends 5 minutes at the front desk and then we often do not interact with them again until check-out and the worst thing is that check-in is a purely transactional process that does not generate any experience points for the customer. “ Damia
Ubikos automatically sends personalized check-in emails to guests before their arrival. This also allows customers that arrived from OTA to fill in their details.
Leveraging Quicktext AI chatbot, the hotel maintains proactive, personalized communication with its customers throughout the guest journey from pre-stay to booking and check-in across instant messaging channels (Live Chat, Messenger, Instagram….)
This digital interaction builds customer engagement and loyalty. It allows us to detect and resolve customer queries or issues during their stay instead of finding out about it on TripAdvisor reviews days later, says Damiá.
To facilitate operational management, Quicktext is integrated into the Ubikos PMS interface.
Digitization of the buffet’s gastronomic offer
Another novelty for 2022 will be the digitization of buffet services. The paper labels will go digital, with the following advantages:
- Being multilingual
- Allergens will be indicated.
- Automate the change of breakfast/lunch/dinner service.
- Increase cross-selling through pairing recommendations based on each dish.
This collaboration is the result of the development of AEME and its integration with Ubikos.
The digital transformation of the Acapulco Lloret Hotel has been a total success and is still in process. Damiá and the team dedicate an important part of their time to helping other hoteliers think about and achieve their digital transition through events, conferences, and consulting.
A key takeaway from Damià is that digitizing the hotel customer experience is not about adding specific tools. Hotels need to rethink their business strategy, operational processes, and the experience they want to offer their customers.
We are coming out of a tremendous crisis in which the digital world has advanced globally and is not about to go backward. Now is the time to digitize your hotel!