Eugene B. Jones, Chief Executive Officer,RoomOrders
Every hotel and resort decision-maker would tell you that the most important thing in hospitality is guest experience. Yeah, but do they really think that?
Trying to run the show at RoomOrders – a guest self-service ordering and payment solution, this question has often kept me up at night.
RoomOrders is used in over 200 leading hotel brands around the world, so you can imagine I’ve gotten to know a lot of hotel owners, GMs, operations, food and beverage and IT managers. RoomOrders is also used in a lot of restaurants and bars, including chains like Burger King, so the notion I get is the same for hospitality at large.
On the other hand, I am also a glutton. I love to indulge in hotels and eat out every chance I get. So I pretty much have a good handle on what guests want too.
Honestly, I think hospitality providers do really think guest experience is foremost. The only problem is that they seem to have lost touch with what today’s guest considers a truly good experience.
Sure, contactless ordering and payment is no longer just a craze, it’s a necessity – ‘the new norm.’ And sure, everyone in hospitality is keen to digitalise, or as we like to say, bring hospitality into the new Low-Touch Economy.
Hospitality providers know this. Guests know this. Everyone knows this. And for those who don’t, the corona virus has hammered the message home loud and clear.
So what’s the catch?
The catch is that they don’t get what constitutes a great touchless experience?
It’s hard to blame hotel professionals, so many leading hospitality vendors find it easier to sell hotel-centric, rather than guest-centric solutions. Ironically, it’s the hotel-centric solutions that cost the big bucks.
A case in point, a sturdy POS system is expensive. It’s procured through arduous processes requiring negotiation and rubber stamping. And if you want to integrate cloud payment solutions for example, that would run up costs like licences, implementation, configuration, as well as staff training. But hey, this will ultimately save you cash; it should streamline operations and make management much easier.
Alternatively, you could just download an off-the-shelf solution and make life easier for the guest to order and pay on their own devices. They would even receive receipts in the mail.
It seems the secret is to strike the right balance. Not too clunky and fairly priced.
But, back to my thoughts. If guest experience is really paramount, what is the gold standard in guest experience?
I like to think that the best guest experience in the world would be something like sitting or lying down anywhere - a busy downtown restaurant, a remote sandy beach - and I could order whatever I conjured up, with just the click of my fingers. And voila! It would appear before my eyes, and I wouldn’t have to rummage through my pants or towel to find my wallet, to pay for it.
Ok, you are right, RoomOrders has not invented a genie in a bottle. But I think we’ve created the next best thing.
If you are a hospitality decision-maker, and you really care about guest experience, I would suggest you put yourself in the shoes of the guest yourself. The guest-centric solutions out there are low or even zero CAPEX. They do not disrupt usual operations, they do not require training and they vastly improve your business.
I won’t mention the bottom line. It’s astonishing what a difference digitalization makes to revenues, whether it be streamlined processes, easy monitoring, analytics and management or more than double the previous average check values.
All this sounds awesome, I know. But that’s so last year’s model for us at RoomOrders, we are not just digitalising operations for individual hospitality providers, we are already building digital ecosystems, interconnecting accommodation providers with entire communities of vendors, from food to leisure and experiences.
Imagine staying in a hotel or Airbnb in a foreign place and scanning a QR code that opens entire communities of local vendors at the touch of your phone. It doesn’t matter where you are, Brisbane, Boston or Barcelona, the same seamless guest experience – without downloading an app.
The trick is that people love technology. They just don’t love other people’s technology. They demand instant gratification and their preferred method is via their smart phone devices that they carry with them everywhere they go.
Did I mention busy downtown restaurants and remote sandy beaches?