Hotel concierge in the 2020s: face-to-face service versus mobile guest engagement

Eloise Hanson Eloise Hanson Uploaded




International Hospitality Media (IHM), publisher of Boutique Hotel News (BHN), in partnership with Travlet, hosted its latest hospitality business debate today at the Wellington Club.

Following a short introduction from James Harrabin of Travlet, IHM's CEO Piers Brown hosted a lively discussion centred around the motion: face-to-face service will always be the preferred guest communication channel.

A special thank you to Edward Bracken, general manager at Crowne Plaza London - The City; and Tony Matharu, CEO Blue Orchid Hotels, who started the debate by proposing and opposing the motion respectively.

The key takeaways from the debate include:

  • 62 per cent of people plan their itinerary before travelling, so after flights and hotel are booked.
  • 38 per cent of people plan their itinerary during the trip (mainly the corporate traveller). 
  • Technology must be used appropriately in order for it to be memorable. Generic push notifications should be avoided - the more personal and the more detail, the greater the value add.
  • Technology can therefore support meaningful relationships and encourage loyalty, but this should be balanced against and complemented with personal interactions "of class and finesse".
  • Staff need to be trained in order to understand the limitations of technology e.g. when systems crash. The reliance on digital "has also become our shackle" and there's a need to develop the next generation.
  • Given the speed and rate of change, it's no longer about keeping pace but rather ahead of the time. Not only must forecasted technology be future-proof, but we need to think imaginatively about our means of communication.
  • Data needs to be centralised into a "single source of truth". The vast number of technology suppliers and respective offerings can be confusing, whereby the industry would benefit from a consolidated data warehouse.

Some of the hotels represented in the discussion were The Edinburgh Collection, The East London Hotel, London Hotel Group, Millennium Kensington, Taj Hotels and more.

BHN holds regular 'Dine and Learn' events throughout the year, offering senior executives the opportunity to raise issues and find solutions with their peers and business partners in a contributory format.

The next planned event, to F&B or not to F&B, sponsored by AHV Assocciates, will be held the morning of March 12.

For further information email info@internationalhospitality.media, or call +44 (0) 208 340 7989.

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