How Tech Affects Luxury Hotel Industry Growth

MARKHAM, ONTARIO—Book4Time is a global provider of cloud-based all-in-one management solutions for hotel, spa and wellness businesses in more than 70 countries. Its platform was built to maintain the customer experience throughout the customer journey.

“While Book4Time provides the software for hotels, guests are usually not aware that Book4Time is the platform being used, as Book4Time’s software is branded for the hotel or spa, and guests using it will only make a connection to the hotel or spa for its services,” said Founder/CEO Roger Sholanki, whose key clients include Four Seasons, Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Shangri-La, AccorHotels, Canyon Ranch, Como Hotels and Resorts, sbe Hotel Group and Belmond.

“For example, if a guest visits a hotel and the booking technology for the spa is slow or malfunctions, the guest will not associate this unpleasant service with Book4Time; they will connect it with the hotel or spa itself,” he said. “With this in mind, Book4Time knows that an impeccable customer experience through the technology it offers its clients is essential. Because hotels entrust their brand’s reputations to Book4Time’s products, it is crucial that Book4Time meets and exceeds customer expectations every time hotel customers interact with it.”

As a software provider for hotels, Book4Time understands the importance of developing technology with all the common customer pain points in mind. It is a partner for hotel brands and, in turn, must ensure the technology is suited to provide the high-end customer service these brands are known for.

Sholanki noted that a constant challenge for hotels is providing greater ease and speed of services as consumers’ expectations have risen, especially when it comes to their experiences with a brand.

“Near instantaneous results or feedback, in addition to a seamless experience, are the status quo,” he said. “Book4Time designed its tablet app with these high expectations in mind. The app allows guests to be checked in without visiting the front desk, avoiding potential long lines that could hamper the overall experience. Additionally, spa services could be booked from anywhere on-property with the app. The ease of booking a massage as you lounge by the pool helps hotels meet those high expectations.”

Pushing its abilities even further, Book4Time’s tablet app grants spa technicians the freedom to view and manage guest profiles, notes, preferences and appointments while in the treatment rooms. They can suggest add-ons, and upgrades can be done in a non-intrusive manner.

“Understanding and tracking the digital reputation of a hotel is another key challenge in the industry,” he said. “Sometimes a hotel spa is a guest’s first touchpoint with a hotel and ensuring the digital reputation of that spa is positive is vital. Book4Time’s Spa Monitor capabilities centrally manage reviews across all review sites, including TripAdvisor, Facebook, Yelp, Spa Finder and Foursquare.”

Sholanki believes there are two things hoteliers need to consider or understand in terms of the customer experience. It’s all about the follow up and being willing to adopt new technology.

“Hoteliers need to understand that embracing technology is necessary to meet guest expectations. Imagine if a hotel did not offer an online booking tool. How many potential guests would immediately lose interest in staying at that hotel? There is an expectation, on the guests’ side, that technology will be seamlessly integrated into the entire customer experience, from booking a stay to receiving the post-visit thank you email,” he said. “Also, it is important that hoteliers understand that the conversation with a guest should not end when that guest checks out. Surveys and feedback are valuable in identifying strengths and weaknesses for the hotel.”

Technology, as it affects customer experience, is critical to the overall experience of a luxury hotel client.

“In this day and age, technology touches nearly every part of what we do—from researching hotels and their services, to booking those stays and services, to how the customer interacts with the brand once they are there and after they leave,” he said. “Therefore, to remain competitive in the growing luxury hotel industry, one that is defined by a stellar customer experience, technology that prioritizes the customer experience above all else, even from behind the scenes, is what will keep the industry growing. Every piece of the customer experience contributes to the competitiveness of a brand, and technology built on the customer experience helps enhance all steps of a customer’s journey at a hotel.”

Sholanki provided a real world example of how the Book4Time platform solved a hotelier’s customer service challenge:

“One of Book4Time’s features will automatically send a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey, which uses a 1-10 rating scale to gauge feedback, to guests in a thank you email as soon as they leave the hotel spa. Any guest feedback given through the Book4Time platform will be displayed throughout all touchpoints of the customer’s journey. For example, if a guest had a great experience and left a very high rating in the survey, an employee will see this information displayed as the guest is checked in for another treatment,” he said.

“After instituting a practice where spa directors read through the survey results every morning, one of Book4Time’s clients noticed that a regular customer left feedback that while the service was great, she would appreciate it if a hook was in the treatment room, so she could hang up her purse. Once the spa directors read the comment, they immediately added hooks in the treatment rooms. When the customer returned, she was so delighted to see her feedback addressed, that she wrote an email to the company CEO,” he said.