SIXTY's Head Concierge shows us how ALICE Concierge has his back when it comes to guest requests.
This is a guest post by Noah Lemaich, Head Concierge, SIXTY Hotels.
One of my big fears as a concierge (especially when I was starting out) is missing even a single guest request. If I forget to make dinner plans for myself, no big deal, I can always order in. However, missing a guest’s dinner request has the potential for ruining an entire stay and the guest’s likelihood to return to us. I’d love to show you how ALICE has my back throughout a single guest request. While names and places are clearly made up (a good concierge always respects our guest’s privacy), I can assure you that everything below has happened to me - multiple times.
A guest, let’s call him “Mr. Ring”, calls 3 months in advance and asks for a table for 2 at 8 PM on Friday March 10th at “Restaurant Romance”. This is, of course, no ordinary restaurant request. Mr. Ring has bought plane tickets, picked my hotel (because of the superstar concierge team, of course!), and is planning to propose during dinner at “Restaurant Romance”. Simple restaurant reservation request, how hard can this be? There are sooo many different places a concierge can drop the ball; ALICE helps me juggle like a pro.
I’m already a pro on all things “Restaurant Romance” because ALICE lets me keep my own private concierge notes about Restaurant Romance in a database of all my concierge connections called “Local”. Local replaces my old address book of all the concierge connections I have developed. Before computers, many of us concierges logged all of this info physically on paper (and, eventually, in our mobile phones). Older concierge systems came along and allowed concierges to log and track all our connections by manually typing and adding them into the concierge software. ALICE takes things to the next level. Back when I added “Restaurant Romance” to my database; ALICE automatically searched the internet for me and found the business address, phone, hours, website, categories, and all their social links (Yelp, Facebook, Opentable, Foursquare, and more!). After I cry tears of joy at how quickly ALICE found this out for me; I can worry less about searching the internet and focus more on the insider information I know about “Restaurant Romance”; such as the name of the GM, their private VIP Number, reviews of when my concierge team dined there, and more.
Local is your digital black book. Powered by a Google database, Local lets concierges and front desk staff save information for any business or contact they or their guests call upon.
I’m also a pro at knowing when and why I need to do things as ALICE knows that concierges work best in a calendar. When a guest asks “What time is my dinner reservation on Friday”, it’s important that I can quickly click on Friday’s date, scan down to the evening hours, and quickly find my guest’s dinner reservation details. A concierge’s job is full of specific things that are happening at specific times and ALICE knows that it’s equally important too see things laid out by hours on a calendar, as it is also important to be able to quickly search and find guest requests across multiple dates.
Some NYC restaurants are easy. I know I can even call the day of and get my guests in. Restaurant Romance is not one of these restaurants. While Mr. Ring called me in December; Restaurant Romance is not yet accepting reservations for March 10th. A request logged for March 10th is not very helpful in this scenario. ALICE has my back with Reminders, and Mr. Ring’s request will require several reminders.
Reminders lets you set when and how often you want to be reminded about a task that needs to be taken care of.
We are all used to the basic reminders most calendar programs offer; usually limited to a single reminder which you can only control the time of (You have that conference call starting in 15 minutes!). For a concierge, a single reminder, which you cannot customize is useless. I love that ALICE not only lets us create a custom reminder text, ALICE also lets me create several reminders for one request at any date and time. This is vitally important for a concierge. While Mr. Ring’s dinner at 8pm on March 10th is the request, there are many steps/reminders that lead to this request being completed.
First Reminder: Thanks to my concierge notes for Restaurant Romance in “Local”; I know I need to call 28 days in advance to make the reservation. When I go into Mr. Ring’s restaurant request on March 10th; all I need to do is click “Add Reminder” and simply input “28” days before. ALICE does the hateful math for me and I know I need to call on February 10th. I just add in a quick note “MUST CALL to reserve table VIP PROPOSAL”. On February 10th I not only see the reminder, but ALICE knows that reminder is connected to the guest request on March 10th. So, I can quickly remind myself of all the guest’s info, Restaurant Romance’s info, and all the request details so I can quickly know what number to call and be on my way... Oh, and I won't get fired - so that's good too.
Second Reminder: What if I can only get a 9pm table when I call in? I know the guest really wants 8pm. I also know that Mondays after 5pm are the best time to catch my contact who is the GM, and she may be able to help. So I can quickly and easily set a 2nd reminder on Monday February 13th at 5pm to see if we can change the time.
Third Reminder: Restaurant Romance requires that all reservations be confirmed the day prior to the reservation. If I do not make a reminder to call and confirm the reservation on March 9th, the restaurant will cancel the table. Not that the restaurant likes ruining my life, but empty tables do not pay the bills.
More Reminders!: Did I mention that Mr. Ring does not want to worry about the actual ring? He doesn’t want to carry it around all day, and it would also be awful if he forgot the ring (it’s happened!). We decide it’s best to have Mr. Ring give *me* the ring and I will personally deliver it into the hands of the maitre’d at 5pm on Friday March 10th (more stress, yay!). I add another reminder for 4:30pm on 3/10 to leave to deliver the ring AND also a reminder for that morning to remember to ask Mr. Ring for the ring. (Luckily; Mr Ring does not need me to buy the ring, write the proposal (and make it rhyme), rent his suit, and hire a hidden photographer to take pictures while it’s happening.... I've done all those too).
Sound confusing? Welcome to the world of a concierge. Many other solutions out there only allow for 1 reminder and a concierge spends more time tricking the system and logging these all as their own separate requests which are not linked to each other. I love that, with ALICE, all of these steps are connected, when I go to my dinner reservation request I can easily see where I am with all the work that needs to be done. Additionally, I know that I can also see my reminders (and all the request info) on my calendar at each reminder time.
This brings us to Workflows and another of my favorite ALICE features. Not only can my team quickly see the “status” of each of my reminders; we can also know the status of the request (in this case, a restaurant reservation). I love that my team can have a workflow of statuses to choose from (“Requested”, “Waiting”, “Reserved”, “Re-Confirmed”) which make sense for the task. While a different type of concierge request (for flowers) can have its own workflow (“Requested”, “Ordered”, “Received”, “Delivered”).
Another way ALICE has my back is with Escalations. Logging requests and setting reminders does not help if you miss them. Remember that I need to call “Restaurant Romance” on February 10th? It gets even better. My concierge notes for Restaurant Romance in “Local” remind me that phone lines open at 10am sharp. If I call at 9:59 AM; I will be greeted by a recording. If I call 10am or later I will be placed in the call queue of other people also calling into the VIP number I have. If I call at 10:30am or later, all tables will be long gone and I will have failed. There have been times when I start pressing redial starting at 10am, spent 5 minutes pressing redial on two phones (most likely with several other concierges in the city doing the exact same thing) until I could get into the Queue. Waited 10 minutes on hold, and then am offered the last available table at 10:30 PM. So, it’s become VERY important that I call Restaurant Romance at 10am on February 10th, if I miss my 30 minute window to get a table - I’ve ruined Mr. Ring’s night (and, therefore, his entire stay).
"Escalations" in ALICE Concierge ensure no requests fall through the cracks.
Before ALICE, I would spend two months living in fear of Mr. Ring and February 10th. What happens if I am not looking at my Calendar at 10am on February 10th. What if it’s my day off? What if my shift starts at 10am on that day and I haven’t even had the time to open my concierge software. Prior to ALICE i’d be setting up a comical series of outside solutions. I’d set the alarm clock on my phone (even though my phone should not be out at work). I’d ask the front desk to set up a fake wake-up call for 10am with a note to call me. I’d send myself an email before going to sleep, and hope that I wouldn’t receive too many other emails during the night and that email would still be at the top of my inbox. I’ll stick post-its to my computer screen, on the concierge phone, anywhere I think I may be looking at 10am. I’ve made it clear to significant others that they MUST call me at 10am at work but that I won’t be able to actually talk to them when they call.
ALICE has a robust series of escalations I can use to my advantage, and I can layer and time these escalations to how my team works best. Let’s say 10am hits and it’s time for me to call Restaurant Romance. Except, I am busy looking at a different day in my ALICE Calendar. I can set up ALICE to give me a nudge with a notification just in the Browser tab I have open to ALICE. But what if I am not in ALICE, what if I’ve made the horrible mistake of looking up Broadway Show tickets for another guest? I can set up my next escalation to be a pop-up that notifies me even when I am surfing in another tab or using another program (who knew web pop-ups could be a good thing?!). That’s great Mr. Superstar concierge, but what if you don’t have ALICE open at all? My next escalation may be an email - ALICE will shoot me an email to give me the heads up that I’ve missed something. If I miss that email, ALICE can email my supervisor. If that doesn’t work, ALICE can shoot me a text message. Miss the text message? ALICE will call my direct concierge line at the hotel.
I love that, like many areas of ALICE. ALICE can change and adapt these escalations to how different concierge teams work; and can even bring this down to a very granular level. For example, I can tell ALICE “All Restaurant reservations should follow these escalations” and know that ALICE will protect me with all of the above. However, I can also decide that other types of requests do not need as many escalations, with some types of requests, maybe just a single email heads up is more than enough.
With ALICE, my job as a concierge becomes less about being my own personal assistant and lets me concentrate on being a great concierge. What does a great concierge do? A great concierge makes Mr. Ring beleive he has thought of the great idea to sneak in a manicure for Ms. Ring (who wants to post pictures of the ring when your nails are not looking perfect?!), a great concierge knows a secluded romantic speakeasy two blocks away from the restaurant, a great concierge knows that Mr. Ring is going to call down when he remembers he doesn’t know how to tie a bowtie. ALICE lets me focus on those things and takes care of the technical side. In many ways, ALICE is the concierge to the concierge.