Service and Reputation Go Hand in Hand: Tech Suppliers and Hotels Need to Work Together
We now live in a world where service, technology, and reputation are on a collision course – and this affects the hotel industry more than most other industry segments. According to a recent Hospitality Technology study, 85% of guests consider positive reviews and high ratings very important when making a hotel selection.
When thinking about a hotel’s reputation, TripAdvisor, Google and the companies that supply reputation management solutions come first to mind. However, the reputation of a hotel goes much deeper when you intersect service and technology. Looking at a hotel’s reputation from the outside, the top factors that affect reviews, and thus reputation, are cleanliness, Wi-Fi, service, food, amenities and believe it or not, the pool. All of these issues are directly related to the guest stay and the most prominent areas that the guest sees or uses. These areas are critical however with certain tweaks here and there, the reputation scores for each area can be increased by implementing better procedures, monitoring and delivering quick and effective resolutions.
Things that cannot be seen by the guest but that can complicate their visit immensely is when the technology that drives the hotel has issues. The issues can be as minor as a clock radio not working properly or the TV malfunctioning to a full system collapse where the hotel can neither check guests in or out, take reservations, or the door locks will not work making for a very uncomfortable service environment.
The service shift happens here. The technology provider must have exemplary service and deliver on their agreed upon service level agreement with the hotel to ensure that any system issue is dealt with expeditiously and with positive results. Also, shifting the primary systems, your PMS, out of the property and into the cloud helps immensely. While writing this article, I found a thread online where an IT person stated the following about their hotel PMS, “I’d rather burn my server room to the ground and get everyone to use construction paper, and crayons than ever let XXXXX into my environment again.”
When a primary system goes down or has integration issues, it impacts every aspect of your business and ultimately affects every guest. Will they post online about this specific experience? Probably no, but they will post a derogatory review about the long wait at the front desk or not being able to check-out or order room service. The technology behind the scene can create havoc if it is not working at its optimal rate.
A strong and mutually beneficial relationship between the hotel and its software provider is incredibly important. A relationship of mutual trust must be achieved to deal with problems that arise that may impact hotel operations and thus the service delivery side of the business. Many technology companies tout themselves as partners but are viewed by the hotel as a vendor. If a technology company can escalate the relationship with the hotel by providing responsive service and support of their products, they can be seen as a true partner rather than just a vendor – and all stakeholders should be driving towards this goal.
Finally, when discussing service and support related to your technology providers, it is critical to ensure they are on the same page in regards to your expectations. Hotels can easily have over thirty different technology providers – and many of them need to interface their solutions. Too often, tech providers lay the blame and point fingers at each other when it comes to interface or integration issues. Hold each partner to the highest standard and commit to developing long-lasting relationships with them with a focus on service. The delivery of great service by technology providers to the hotel will ultimately enable the hotel to deliver on their guest service promises.