Why StayNTouch? An Interview with the GM of Hotel Chicago West Loop
Imran Jivani is the seasoned General Manager of Hotel Chicago West Loop based out of Chicago. He has been in the hotel industry for 22 years and began his hospitality career on the front lines working primarily for boutique hotels. Imran explains that he enjoys working in the boutique space due to its flexibility rather than working with a “scripted environment.”
Background on the hotel using StayNTouch’s Rover Mobile PMS
116 rooms, European style boutique hotel in Chicago. The clientele is mainly younger, looking for a value-based stay and proximity to the medical district of Chicago.
Why did you start looking for a new platform?
Imran: The legacy platform that was previously installed at the property made us feel as if we were boxed in. It was very restrictive. We wanted to find an innovative solution that was service and guest-centric. We also needed something that would boost convenience for the guest and the hotel staff. Though having the right features and functionality were critical, the new platform still had to be simple to implement. As technology continues to change our lives, it only makes sense that we start throwing out old, antiquated technologies within the hotel industry for innovative platforms that enable us to connect with our guests no matter where the guests may be on property. We needed to find a PMS that enabled our front-line employees the ability to attend to guest needs from the moment they arrived – to entirely focus on the guest rather than focus on a system. Today’s average hotel check-in experience has gone from 3 to 5 minutes and rather than getting simpler, it seems to be getting even more complicated. We had to find a solution for that issue as well. After much research, we determined that a cloud-based PMS system with mobility was the best fit. Not only can mobility empower front desk staff, but other departments within the hotel can use a tablet or smartphone to access and input data, as well as engage with the guest when the opportunity presents itself.
Rover Mobile PMS is the undisputed leader, in this category, so it was the right decision. Often, people’s misconception of cloud-based systems is that they are not fully-featured, but in fact, this is not necessarily the case. The development and implementation of the system dictates how limited or advanced it may be. Cloud-based systems are more reliable, more flexible, more affordable, and can scale. Rover Mobile PMS had everything we were looking for today and to lead us into the future.
What was the primary focus during the decision-making process?
Imran: Of course, many other elements play a role in the decision to commit to a new property management system. The primary driver was affordability along with finding a PMS that had all the latest ‘bells and whistles’. We wanted to make sure that it suited our environment and that it would meet all of our operational, marketing and guest service needs. We do understand that hotel software can be developed to have too many features based on what is deemed to be the next big thing, but we needed a flexible, future-proof solution that would enable us to manage our hotel the way we wanted to. Another thing to note is the fact that Rover is highly intuitive and allows our front desk employees to have conversations with our guests without being distracted by the PMS system. Guest relationship-building is a key differentiator for our hotel.
How much did the service and support of the solution weigh into your decision-making process?
Imran: In today’s hectic hotel operational environment, the one thing you don’t want to worry about is the support of your PMS. If you need help, you want to feel secure that your technology supplier has your back. StayNTouch has been amazing to work with. We have felt supported from day one and have been able to create connections with everybody in the company. I see that the company has picked up the most knowledgeable team of the hotel support industry. Jos got the best of the best. When we make a recommendation or request a new feature or some different function, the request is managed quickly and effectively. Plus, when I need anything, I am not on hold for hours or waiting for three days for someone to get back to me. I give StayNTouch five stars when it comes to service and support.
In the guest engagement world, what do you think the hotel industry needs to do next to amplify guest service?
Imran: Service differentiation is now among the highest priorities within the hotel landscape. I believe that hotels need to give more control to the guests. The industry needs to put the decision-making process back into the guests’ hands and stop insulting our/their intelligence. Today’s consumers know how to shop around and find the best deals, so now they want to stay at the hotel that enables them to get what they want and how they want it – like remote check-in and out, purchasing ancillary items while on-property or pre-stay.
Also, there is too much information out there today. Guest are inundated, so the decision-making process is overly complicated. We, as an industry, need to make it simple for our guests to choose the right hotel for their trip and personalize their stay experience. If hotels listen to their guests, and go above and beyond in developing relationships with them, they will be able to drive both loyalty and revenues.