To: Chad Kelly GM
From: Glenn Bowen
Date: October 16, 2017
Subject: Raising customer satisfaction through check-in and outs
As the traveling environment starts to grow each year, the hospitality industry is starting to see a rise. Check-ins and outs are becoming problems, lines are increasing and ultimately causing travelers to miss time while on vacation. With the digital age growing more each day hospitality companies are adapting by offering digital ways to check-in and out. Finding a solution that can not only reduce these times but eventually eliminate the problem as a whole to help increase stays and customer satisfaction through digital devices, mobile check out teams, and expedited check-out at the hotel is what I propose.
The transformation from the traditional methods of arriving at the hotel and checking in-out through a desk attendant are slowly growing out of style. The digital optimization of these methods is bringing a number of benefits to the hospitality field such as operational ease, improved guest experience, exponential cost saving efforts that are going green without the use of paper. Companies like The Hilton and Samsotech are responsible for pioneering and revolutionizing the hospitality industry. In 2016 “Hilton was the first hospitality company to enable room selection and customization via mobile and web-based floor plans; Company also announces that guests will be able to use their smartphone as their room key in majority of hotel rooms” This was a key step for the company because it helped bring in costumers and help guest relations providing room for the business to grow. Along with the Hilton Company, “Samsotech” pioneered the digital check-in solution to hotels worldwide enhancing guests experiences by allowing them to do things through digital devices. “This not only allows faster guest check-in but also helps the hotel save these documents digitally in a server that can be easily accessed by authorized users from the document management system.” (Samsotech Global) Meaning an easier way to provide not only a faster but smoother process for guests on the move. That's the main objective I plan on achieving by bringing these solutions to our establishment not only will more consumers visit the hotel but the satisfaction they get from having added time on their hands will bring in business. No one likes to wait and that's what we're here to accomplish.
Our Key Problem:
Yes, our hotel has been running smoothly over the past year that I've been here but I feel as if were missing that x-factor in the arrival and departure field. As you know recently on the companies Guest Service Surveys quite a few of the complaints have been due to the time taken for our guests to check-in or out. Whether it has to do with getting to the room and relaxing or making it to the airport on time our lack in time efficiency causes problems to arise in their situations. We have started to lose guests to our rival the Hilton across the street which is causing our revenue to go down. Even though we are still one of the better hotels in the city our ratings on trip advisor show that we are losing our edge. As a Marriott employee, I was taught to achieve the highest level of hospitality while also demonstrating tough work ethic, but in the recent months I feel as if were struggling with that component. With a little upgrade to our services not only do I think we'll attract our guests back but put us back in the race to be the best three-star hotel in Richmond.
Ways to Upgrade:
Technology is starting to play a key role in everything and it has come to the hospitality field. “To succeed in digital business means making fundamental changes to how you do business — not just how you reach or serve customers, but how you identify competitive markets and allocate funds.”(George Corbin). Adapting to change is part of the process of growing so by allowing us to change systems add features and build upon old company ways we can to rejuvenate our brand. Ways like automated check-ins, mobile lobby staff to assist with the faster paced guests and expedited check-outs are all new features we should include to gain that edge and solidify our selves as a competitor for the long run in this industry. The tech age is upon us and if we don't adapt soon we could continue the decline. Studies show that increasing the use of technology will help reduce costs, increase check-in and out times and add convince to your establishment. “According to survey by popular online travel portal Trip Advisor, “62% of U.S. travelers prefer green hotels and give a thought to the environment when choosing hotels, meals or transportation. 17% of travelers are even willing to pay more for eco-friendly features.” (Abhilash Sreekumar). Meaning that not only will check out times decrease but the satisfaction of the customers will increase bringing on a good representation of our hotel.
Top Benefit Hotel Technology Should Deliver
My first solution we could think about is automated check-ins. Have you ever traveled all day and finally arrive at your destination only to be met by a long line of other vacationers waiting to be checked in and receive their room keys? Well it's a problem I see all too often. “IBM has more than 8,000 IBM kiosks installed or on order at more than 200 locations worldwide.” With the automated check-in solution, it will provide guests who have registered and paid online to get their personal guest code which allows them to receive their room key. It additionally allows the convince of accessing bills at the end of your stay instead of waiting in line when an abundance of guests is checking out allowing you to get on your way. Automated check-ins can help hotels improve upon staff efficiency; rather than them taking time to help get a room key or reservation handled they can handle paper work, answer phone calls, or just help guests with questions with fewer interruptions. These kiosks normally run around $2200- $4000 and by providing one or two in the lobby it would help decrease labor costs. Hospitality is “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” (Mia Taylor) With this solution, our establishment can be focused on the main goal which is catering to our guests needs and building customer satisfaction.
Mobile Lobby Staff:
Various high-end hotels are combining the concierge and front desk features, creating a personal “host” position. Relatively similar to a front desk agent a personal host anticipates the arrival of guests ahead of time, and checks them by name using a digital device such as an iPad or tablet creating a more personal experience. These tablets can range from $500- $1200 which is a low-cost knowing that you can handle twice as many guests in a shorter amount of time than everyone waiting at a check out line. Hosts will guide guests to their rooms, help make recommendations, assist with luggage and other belongings and answer any questions that may arise. This option can help eliminate the consumers need to wait in line, but still maintain the customer service touch that many guests appreciate when they visit the Marriott.
One policy our hotel has used for years is the process of having guest's check-in or out at certain times. “Flexible check-in and check-out times have traditionally been reserved for only the most important of hotel guests. But now, some hotels are starting to extend that luxury to all customers. According to Yahoo Travel, a “24-hour check-in/check-out policy” is one of the newest, greatest trends in the travel industry. “(Ledbetter Huffpost).
Dallas Ft. Worth
The chart above shows the arrival and departure times from the Richmond International Airport. As you can see most times are either before 3pm or after 11 am which means guest are waiting 3 hours or more just to check in and out of their room. This can cause many problems to arise such as missing flights or just having to schedule a flight that was unwanted in the first place. By doing away with allotted times for checking-in and out we could help make our guests travel a little less stressful. Proving our dedication to achieving the highest level of hospitality.
This will be the proposed budget for the kiosks and tablets along with operating costs.
Automated Check in kiosk- $2,000- $10,000 differentiates based on software added
Licensing fee- $500
IPad mobile kiosk- $400- $600
Software- additional $200
Why I qualify:
Over the past year and a half that I've been working for the Marriott of Richmond I've learned many things. How to look for the problem and solution for a guest, be the most hospitable front desk agent, and help raise customer quality and satisfaction in our hotel. I had no experience coming into this job but with my training I have proved to be a top employee in my position. This has opened up opportunities for raises, company benefits and awards. I have showed that I can one day be able to lead this department to success while still being a team player and through these suggested upgrades we could take back our 5-star ratings on travel websites while taking back the top spot of three star hotels in the Richmond area.
In addition to all the above-mentioned benefits that would come from digitizing our lobby and check-in systems these steps can also help reduce labor costs and take a step in the “going green” initiative adopted by many Starwood properties today. The new generation of travelers is constantly progressing through the online distribution marketplace, it is the capability of the Marriott chain to deliver modern services that will help us remain competitive. Self-services in hotels, in terms of automated check-in, mobile lobby staff, and the use of check-in and out times assist with the elimination of the clerical part of the job for front office staff and provide more opportunity for human connections, surge the accuracy of routine operations, lower labor and supply costs and improve the guest experience altogether. I hope to hear a follow up soon about my proposal, thank you.
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