Today’s concierges spend too much time doing busy work and not enough time focusing on their guests. By automating certain tasks, concierges can leverage their networks and know-how to create unforgettable experiences.
Concierges pre-date the existence of hotels. In the Middle Ages, the concierge was the holder of the palace keys, charged with controlling access to even the most important of rooms. As the trusted advisor to the King, the concierge oversaw the coordination of the household and performed special tasks at the request of the court. It wouldn’t be until three centuries later, when hotels had become mainstream among the sprawling western cities, that the concierge role would transition from royal palace to hotel lobby.
Today, the concierge profession is undergoing another fundamental change. The rise of the on-demand economy is causing guests to take their experience into their own hands, relying less on concierge services than they used to. With instant access to the likes of Uber and Seamless, our smartphones are beginning to take over some of the responsibilities that concierges once relied on to make a living.
As such, it’s no surprise many concierges have developed anxiety over, if not outright fear of, the encroach of technology on their profession. We believe, however, that technology, if applied correctly, can elevate the concierge role to new heights, and possibly even distract us from our phones.
Today’s concierges spend too much time doing busy work and not enough time focusing on their guests. Smartphones, and possibly even robots, will always be better at busy work, so concierges need to focus on their own strengths. By automating the robotic tasks, concierges can focus on elevating the guest experience - leveraging their networks and know-how to create unique and unforgettable experiences.
To that point, let us explore several ways using the right concierge technology can help reduce grunt work and free up time and energy to create a competitive and up-to-date concierge service.
- Automate the mundane
All of our concierge clients tell us some version of the same story: "Every morning, when I get to work, I have to open 7 browser windows on my computer: personal email, work email, housekeeping system, concierge system, Google, PMS, and my calendar." How are concierges expected to create those magical guest experiences when the simple act of making a reservation involves looking up a restaurant, calling to book a table, updating the PMS (and the concierge system), emailing the next shift, and making any adjustments manually, depending on the guest’s availability?
Consumer-focused applications like Opentable, in contrast, allow a guest to search and book a table much more quickly. All of the information is updated in real time and in a single database, which is accessible to all parties involved. In this scenario, guests reap the efficiencies of technologies, but they - and the hotel - miss out on the local know-how and practical expertise that the concierge has to offer.
Instead, by leveraging a tool like ALICE Local, a concierge can manage the entire reservation process within a single system. Rather than be forced to open up a new window every time a concierge needs to make a reservation, ALICE pulls in Google search to make adding a new restaurant easy, and stores it all in a digital digest of previously searched restaurants.
Further, because it integrates with the hotel’s PMS system, any changes or modifications are automatically updated for all staff members to see. Now, with the right technology, your concierge can spend less time on the routine tasks required after making a reservation and instead, more time planning a fantastic post-dinner evening of dancing and drinks.
- Leverage your Network
In a city like New York, concierges are constantly struggling to stay up to date with the latest restaurants, bars, clubs, performances, and galleries etc. This is another area where they can leverage technology to increase their competitive advantage.
The power of using a single guest services system to manage all concierge-related tickets is that it allows your staff to work together across departments, shifts and even properties. As they add restaurants to your reservations database, your guest services team will build a living and breathing digest of recommendations, which can be updated by all of your employees as they discover new hot spots.
- Improve your understanding of guest habits
The art of superior guest service lies in sending the right guest to the right venue. As your team builds up its database, you will begin to develop a better understanding of your guest preferences and habits, improving the quality of your recommendations.
You might learn, for example, that 80% of your guests are going to the same 10 restaurants. Perhaps this might influence your on-property menu items, or maybe it could lead to a partnership opportunity? More importantly, if you learn that a certain VIP is always going to the same restaurant, you might want to make a reservation on his behalf the next time he checks in.
Further, by keeping good notes and accurate tagging, it will be easier to look up relevant suggestions based on your guest’s needs. Every time you add a restaurant, your staff will have the option to add relevant tags (#brunchspot), notes (Contact Jim for VIP service) and personal reviews (Good cocktail menu), which can be viewed by other staff as they send their guests to the restaurant.
In short, great technology is meant to free up time spent on mundane tasks to allow for more time spent providing great service. As made evident by a recent study by Yahoo, Millennials crave experiences that they can share with friends and social media and as much as 78% of travellers are looking for more personalization in their consumption.
With even less time spent dealing with technological grunt work, who better than the all-knowing concierge to create these experiences?