Guests today are increasingly tech-savvy and look for on-demand responses that allow them to be self-sufficient. Businesses that handle guest interactions are turning to text messaging solutions, sometimes called digital concierges, as a way to fulfill this demand for quick, attentive, and superior service. If you want to understand how digital concierges can impact your business, here’s a complete guide that has the features you can expect, how it works, and the benefits.
Want to see how a text messaging solution can deliver unforgettable experiences and ROI for you? See Ivy in action.
What you can see here
What is a digital concierge?
A digital concierge is like your personal assistant who is always on hand to help. Also known as a smart concierge or virtual concierge, a digital concierge uses AI technology to intelligently communicate with guests over a communication platform (such as a website chat window, mobile app, or text messaging). It’s pretty much like having a conversation with an intelligent, well-connected concierge.
Who needs a digital concierge?
If you want to enhance guest experiences, you need a digital concierge.
Digital concierges should be deployed in any industry seeking to enhance guest experiences.
Are you in the events and entertainment industry? Event digital concierges can help your guests stay updated about events at their location or recommend events based on individual preferences.
Several retirement homes and apartment complexes have also opted for digital concierges to facilitate access and answer residents’ and visitors’ queries.
The hospitality industry has been one of the largest early adopters of the digital concierge. Let’s look at some of the ways in which the hotels and casinos have started putting digital concierges to use.
What can digital concierges do?
Quicker response, faster service.
A digital concierge provides guests with quick answers while helping hotels and casinos manage guest relationships from the time guests book to after they have paid their bill, and beyond. from the time guests book to after they have paid their bill, and beyond.
By handling commonly asked questions (think WiFi passwords, booking availability, room types, driving directions, restaurant specials), a digital concierge can take a huge load off front-desk and in-house staff.
AI-powered smart assistance
Using Artificial Intelligence, a digital concierge offer guests contextual and conversational assistance. Here is how that works. Imagine guests have just checked into your hotel and realize that they need a set of extra towels. All they need to do is send a text message using their mobile phones to the digital concierge that replies instantly to confirm the number of towels and alerts housekeeping to send them up.
A lot of businesses worry that bringing a digital concierge on board will translate directly into staff turnover.
Quite the opposite. Digital concierges help staff work more efficiently than ever before. By freeing their time to focus on complex activities that require human attention, hospitality staff productivity is boosted as they handle more value-driven tasks.
In fact, 86% of hoteliers agreed that AI improved employee satisfaction, according to a 2019 report from Starfleet Research and Oracle Hospitality. Digital concierges take on mundane tasks like answering questions about WiFi passwords and driving directions, freeing employees to focus on higher-value, high-touch tasks that enhance their knowledge and performance.
Talks like a real person
Digital concierges can also redirect complex requests to staff instantly. Your team member then merely continues the conversation — a completely seamless discussion from the guest’s point of view!
No, ‘let me connect you to our staff’ responses. No, ‘Hi-I’m-human-staff-how-can-I-help-you?” reboots and painful conversational loops that require guests to repeat their requests or problems.
A human merely takes over the conversation, and the guest is served.
Coordinates across departments
A digital concierge provides transparency into past guest interactions and requests. The staff can leverage systems such as shared calendars, reminders, and internal notes to coordinate various guest requests across housekeeping, loyalty membership, catering (etc) teams.
Clear, trackable guest communications.
A digital concierge provides managers with a single conversational thread for each guest. Conversations from the time a guest books (requests for reservations, early check-in, airport transportation); to the time they arrive at the hotel and check in (wake up calls, extra pillows, and laundry); to post-visit (like payment and reviews) are organized and trackable in a single thread.
When your guest’s journey is no longer a mystery of channels and blanks, you have a lot of insights to mine and analyze. Imagine what that could do for your marketing and ad campaigns.
Beyond keyword triggered responses
Intelligent digital concierges understand the context behind any guest inquiry. The responses are more humanized and go beyond ‘keyword triggered’ automated systems, which are limited only to general information.
This may seem intuitive or a simple benefit. But it translates into improving your guests’ experience radically. Imagine a guest being asked if she wants to place an order for a hamburger when she is in fact reporting that the hamburger she had been delivered was cold.
Ivy is a digital concierge that can go beyond keyword-triggered responses AND understand emojis, it becomes part of your service team, leading to a more satisfied guest which means more positive reviews.
Can speak more languages
Guests sometimes have a strong preference for communicating in their language. Or are delighted when you speak their language. With digital concierges, switching languages to speak to guests is easy. Your staff can communicate in Spanish, French, or Chinese.
A digital concierge also addresses accessibility issues by giving people with hearing impairments the option to chat and communicate easily.
What benefits can you expect from a digital concierge?
Upsell and onsite spending.
According to Hotel Tech Report, unlike resort fees, guests are not annoyed by upsell offers at hotels. You won’t be increasing revenue at the expense of guest satisfaction. Instead, guests report that relevant offers made during their stay improve their experience. Digital concierges score over traditional methods such as email and signage in this regard – by making offers in a timely and intimate way.
Digital concierges can message in-house guests about late checkouts and extended stay deals just before the guest’s departure. The system can be used to deploy specific, targeted messages based on rewards programs, loyalty tiers, or other special guest assignments stored in your hotel’s CRM.
The long-term impact of an AI-driven digital concierge extends far beyond a guest’s stay. Insights gathered while using the system can build better guest personas, which in turn can be leveraged for customized offers. With this information, marketing teams can create hyper-relevant, real-time messages and campaigns. And as every marketer knows, accurate personalization results in optimized ad spend with greater conversion success.
Improve online reputation
A digital concierge offers a faster resolution of issues and quicker communication of guest needs. Problems are caught and solved long before a guest decides to complain on TripAdvisor about how cold her room is. In fact, with digital concierges checking in on guests mid-stay, you will likely hear about problems while guests are still on the property. You have the advantage of keeping everything within the bounds of private communication channels, giving the staff sufficient time to resolve the issue and soothe concerns before it becomes a bad review.
In fact, after the implementation of a digital concierge, Caesars reported that hotel rankings for its group of Las Vegas hotels on TripAdvisor climbed by 30-40 positions! As most hotels are aware, trying to push your positive online reputation takes millions of dollars in investment.
Boost sales conversion
A lot of time is spent by sales in checking booking dates, arranging activities, and sharing information that is pertinent to making a decision. Speed is an essential aspect of online purchases, and a digital concierge will move that process along by rapidly providing information relevant to purchase decisions.
Where can you find digital concierges?
Ivy by Revinate is currently the largest text messaging solution on the Vegas strip and has been deployed within Caesars Entertainment’s Las Vegas Resorts, including Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino. Currently, over 50 million guests have met Ivy!
Before you check out a digital concierge, here’s what to look for
If you’re looking at providing your guests with a safe, autonomous, and elevated experience, a digital concierge is a great choice. But while digital concierges offer the hospitality industry the latest in guest experience technologies, it is essential to understand that not all solutions are created equally.
Let’s look at some of the factors to consider before investing in a digital concierge.
Some digital concierges offer user-based capabilities, while others may be driven by the number of features that the solution offers. It is important to understand your business’s current position and future growth prospects before settling on a pricing model for a digital concierge.
Tiered pricing is common for most SaaS companies. Depending on the tier chosen, the pricing model will vary, and with it, the depth of information or features of the digital concierge product. Tiered pricing gives the advantage of allowing a test run of the digital concierge at a lower price and scaling up once there is proof of performance.
The pay-as-you-go pricing strategy relates the cost of the digital concierge to its usage: if the hotel uses more of the service, the bill goes up. This can however be hard to budget for and result in unexpected fluctuations during tourist seasons.
Feature pricing helps buyers pick and choose the specific functionality they are seeking, and pay for those features only. It helps those in the hospitality industry focus on “the sweet” features, without paying for a lot of bells and whistles which may not ever be used.
Onboarding and scalability
As buyers of a digital concierge, hotel owners also want to ensure that the new technology is adopted and used so that the investment is recovered. This requires ensuring that the chosen digital concierge offers the desired capabilities, but doesn’t need extensive training to implement and use. Good digital concierge solutions should also be scalable to manage hospitality requirements as the business grows. It’s important to ask questions such as: How many guests can access the digital concierge system at the same time? What happens if you host an event or conference at your hotel?
Integration with PMS
To be effective, digital concierges must communicate seamlessly with third-party applications, such as a property management system (PMS), CRMs, and payment gateways. A digital concierge that integrates directly with existing systems also enables greater accuracy in data tracking. This, in turn, helps managers analyze information in real-time to avoid potential issues due to information silos.
Security and compliance
As digital concierges deal with private guest information and preferences, it is important to ensure that data security and legal protocols are in place. Compliance with industry regulations and all relevant operational certifications must be considered.
Reporting and analytics
Digital concierges help hotels uncover insights about their guests’ stays and preferences, which can impact future business transactions. The best digital concierges offer consolidated information on property operations and guest behavior. For example, a record number of margaritas being bought in May might trigger a profitable insight into hosting a bigger Cinco de Mayo event in the future.
Does the digital concierge come with an online support team or dedicated assistance? For the hospitality industry, round-the-clock service is essential, and investors should ensure there is no loss due to downtime.
As digital concierges begin to be more widely adopted in the hospitality sector, the technology will evolve to play a deeper role in enabling hotel operators to elevate their guests’ experiences. And maintaining guest relationships is the keystone to any successful hospitality business, as you can be sure that digital concierges will be a big part of the game in the future.
If you are looking to experience how this type of text messaging solution can help take your hospitality to the next level, ask to see Ivy in action.