Wednesday March 6, 2013
It seems like the perfect time to post on a subject that defines our modern lives, is endlessly analysed, yet in spite of being the elephant in the room and the reason for so much buzz, is itself rarely feted. So it gives me great pleasure to bring technology to centrestage in this piece.
After decades of dizzying advances in science and technology, we have learnt to take inventions/interventions in our stride. Nevertheless, some inventions have the effect of stopping us in our tracks when we first behold their potential. The communication device, whichever model may have been our special first, leads the pack. Suddenly, thoughts and messages could speed over thousands of kilometres in a few seconds, be heard at the other end, and be responded to. Today thanks to the wishing well that is the Web and the ubiquity of WiFi, just about anything you would want an answer to is on tap – via phone, tablet or laptop, which is never far from reach.
We tap on apps to travel into a world of endless possibilities. And to travel in the real world as well. From booking tickets to planning an itinerary and stay, even experiencing a new or familiar city, travel apps put us in touch with the most suitable deals and recherché travel revelations. In this field where responsiveness is relevance, hotels well known in the real world for their long standing commitment to the highest standards in hospitality, regularly light up screens, geo-location maps and wish lists. Not only have hotels made themselves highly visible and active on social media destinations and crowd sourced utilities, hotels have also taken the leap to capitalise on popular devices, platforms and standards to improve the guest experience.
My own experience with the outstanding utility of travel apps came on one of my trips abroad. A couple of years back, I was in the buzzing centre of a new country – I had a friend’s car at my disposal and was up for brief trips to the main market, but I simply didn’t have the yen for poring over maps to get to anything further, although I did have my sights set on a much-discussed wine trail. It wasn’t long before it struck me that a solution had been sitting in the car all along – docked neatly between controls was a GPS navigation system that made travel anywhere in the city and beyond, a cinch. All I needed to share was the destination and it indicated every turn while also taking me down memory lane to the arcade gaming of adolescence. Today, I would be using the navigation app on my phone.
Some time back on a packed visit to Rome, I carved out a little time to look around the historic city but was clear that it should be hassle free: I should be happier staying indoors than put up with hurdles. I remember the relief and euphoria I felt when I first discovered that I didn’t need the help of a guide to know more about a monument. With an app called TripWolf, I simply had to point my phone at the monument and everything I needed to know about the piece turned up on my screen.
Clearly, technology as an enabler simplifies quests and enriches experiences and for hotels, technology-enabled solutions go a long way to enriching the guest experience every step of the way. For us in the hospitality industry, these innovations are almost never generic, out-of-the-box solutions provided by standard solution providers, but customised experiences crafted in engagement with truly service-oriented technology partners.
The systems and processes that have seamlessly delivered our signature hospitality experience over the years are keenly attuned to the Voice of the Customer. This has been possible by the measures we have taken to capture our guests’ feedback, for instance, through performance scorecards that are broadcast to all units – providing a complete analysis of the guest’s experience and future expectations. Such feedback and our attention to Customer Loyalty entitlements assist immeasurably in delivering what we call ‘WOW’ moments – the thrill of which all of us can vouch for. To be offered an experience that is custom-made to one’s requirements, is truly priceless. So too is the experience of systems that are as thoughtful as they are technologically assured, such as our user-friendly, graphic user interface for guest room systems.
From genuine touches of warmth to an attentive digital presence, we strive to resonate with discerning travellers who regularly return for a reaffirmation of the power of unwavering standards and a commitment to constant improvement.
It has been a pleasure sharing with you my thoughts on technology, travel apps and the world of hospitality and I look forward to reading your comments.