The hospitality industry is undergoing a major reformation, thanks to the mobile technology. Most of the roles that were central to the successful run of hotels and restaurants have already been replaced by the mobile apps. One that may go defunct in near future is – Concierge.
The smartphone-adoption combined with the ease of mobile apps is a potent combination and it’s challenging some of the most traditional and deeply-rooted ‘human-roles’ in the society. Uber stands as the prime example of this wave of technology. A couple of decades ago nobody could have imagined booking a cab from their smartphone and have its fare, expected arrival time and lots of other informative details pulled up in advance. However, Uber is now just a tip of the iceberg in terms of what is practically possible with technology.
What Is a Concierge Anyway?
The role of concierge in the hotels and restaurants goes back a long way. In the Middle Ages, the nobility relied on concierge’s expertise to help them get acquainted with everything on their trips to distant places. Without major exceptions, that role has stayed pretty much the same. In modern times, guests to a hotel seek the concierge’s assistance in arranging tours, booking reservations for theatre and restaurants etc.
It’s that role that must make you wonder, aren’t these the kind of things we like to do ourselves with our smartphones? That’s right. That’s also the reason why the future of concierge as a ‘person-based’ service is in a state of jeopardy.
For some, the writing is on the wall. So much so that they propose we should move forward from the question that whether or not mobile apps are as good as individual concierges? Mobile apps have definitely proved their worth and it won’t be long before they start outperforming any human at the job in question.
How Are Concierge Apps Challenging the Status Quo?
The hotel concierge apps are a great way to tap into the guests’ smartphone(no pun intended), establish an understanding and anticipate their needs before they’ve even arrived on the premises.
Now when almost everyone is using the mobile phones, the hotel’s phone-service has become a bit useless. That pushes the hotel owners to look for other ways to increase the revenue per room. And the answer seems to lie in the SMS services, in the form of tablets embedded inside the room.
In addition to turning of/off the lights or ringing the alarm, they can be used to prompt guests with room service, bookings in local business partner’s restaurant or send updates about nearby entertainment deals. By the way, this is already happening. To maximize spending inside the property, hotels like Hyatt Regency Bellevue make use of Connect CMS platform. What it does is allows guests to send a text to make reservation at one of hotel’s restaurants. Upon receiving the request a staff member responds in a matter of seconds to assist suitably. For guests, this eliminates the need of going to off-site restaurants to have meals etc. and spend inside the hotel’s property.
The use of on-demand facilities in concierge platform is indeed something to get excited about. Apps like Alice lead the way in that regard. By allowing guests to order drinks delivered to their poolside seats, this app captures the very idea of convenience through technology. Using the tactic, hotels expect to elevate the guests’ mood and receive favourable reviews from them.
It doesn’t end there. There are a plethora of opportunities to explore in a Concierge solution. One personal favorite of mine is when arriving at the hotel, the guests could be sent their room keys via the company’s concierge platform, by generating a unique QR code. All the guest will have to do is simply flash in front of the small scanner outside the door and voila! See the door unlocked.
Branded app versus Third-Party?
The choice of whether to go for a fully branded concierge solution or a third-party app really comes down to what you can afford. If your hotel has the necessary technological staff and the infrastructure to build its own solution, then you could do down that route. However, for most hotels, third-party apps will make more sense.
What’s less easier to decide is a need for the solution itself. Hotels just like most businesses are customer-centric. Ensuring customers satisfaction and happiness is crucial to their survival and success. Apps that are simple to use, clear the clutter, and offer greater value will definitely go a long way in fulfilling that promise. What’s more, an app’s increase usage can open more streams of revenue such as by displaying contextual relevance advertisements etc.
Proponents of technology in hospitality have claimed that hotel owners now must start to think out loud. There’s a great deal more than can do through mobile apps than just offer great customer service. In-app marketing is a hot-trend nowadays and that’s something the concierge apps can be utilized for.
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In the end, it must be said that the demand drives the supply and that seems to be the case with hotel industry. Technology seems to be the driving force behind everything now. In fact, we’ve grown so accustomed to using technology, that the lack of it triggers a sense of disquiet and impatience in our minds. Concierge apps will most likely spell the end of concierge as an individual service with special tact of dealing with guests’ requirements. However, their expertise may be employed elsewhere such as being the people who operate behind the mobile apps, send personalized messages and suggestions etc.