The future is digital, there’s no question about it. More importantly, the future is now. But, there are often industries that tend to think their processes simply can’t accommodate the change in pace.
The hospitality industry is, now more than ever, needing to press forward in its quest to be fully digital. The truth is, this effort needs to start from within the business and its team to stand any chance of bringing benefits to potential customers.
In this article, we’ll explore five ways that you can digitize your hospitality business and provide you with the recommended tools to help you get there. Enjoy.
Make your hospitality business digital in 2020
1. Digitize Internal Communication Processes
We touched on this in the introduction to this article but let’s dive a little deeper. Digitization has to start from within the business. That’s with your people and their tools. If your staff are not savvy to digital changes then don’t blame them when you see mistakes in external communications.
Whether your team is sitting in an office or working remotely, digital communication processes will look similar. This will help to streamline your projects and will leave no room for misinformation if someone is “out of office” for a couple of days.
Tools for Internal Chat
Slack(opens in a new tab) is a great way to keep your internal communications informal, organized, and integrated with other tools that you’re using.
If you’re using Microsoft Office including Word and Excel, then Teams(opens in a new tab) is probably best for you.
Google chat(opens in a new tab) is the way to go if you and your team are on Gmail. It’s a nifty chat feature that sits in the same window as your email and is good for quick questions to colleagues.
A lot of businesses use Skype(opens in a new tab) for internal communications, best known for its video service the chat function works pretty well too.
Always a hit and miss with internal communications. It will depend how often you use email to communicate with externals. You wouldn’t want all of your work communications to sit amongst all of your customer emails. Choose wisely how heavily you want to integrate email as part of your internal processes.
Tools for Project Management
Marginally cheaper than the other two project management tools we’ll suggest here. Asana(opens in a new tab) is perhaps the least user friendly, however, that can be a matter of preference.
The free version of Trello(opens in a new tab) tends to be sufficient for small teams. It’s simple and user-friendly. At the time of writing this article, they have no support business hours.
Liked for its ease-of-use and option for in-person training, Airtable(opens in a new tab) is preferred by many.
Most of these project management tools are very similar in their capabilities, try them all and see which one feels right for your hospitality business.
Tools for video conferencing
If you hadn’t heard of Zoom(opens in a new tab) four months ago, we’re sure that you have now. We applaud them for their innovation and agile thinking. They’ve overcome issues they’ve faced and are a solid video conferencing platform.
Their unpaid account gives you 40 minutes of call time and limited features, their paid account is well worth the upgrade.
Another great video conferencing platform(opens in a new tab) which can be built into most email and calendar scheduling platforms.
Priding themselves on a one-of-a-kind interface and with quirky interactive techniques, Circles(opens in a new tab) is definitely the underdog here but well worth considering.
It’s also a good idea to take your HR management digital. Finding a workspace that’s user-friendly for your employees and gives your HR team a good overview of recruitment processes, current staff situations, salaries, and more.
Lastly, email will always be king of communication. Although it’s not recommendable to host your entire internal communication strategy via email, it’s still an essential way of delivering company information.
Try to create an internal newsletter for your staff. Include changes, big news, little news, birthdays, and new processes in your updates. Track open rates, click-through rates and make sure your staff is seeing the information you need them to see.
2. Digitize the guest journey
This includes everything after your guest has booked their experience, trip, or stay with you. Make sure you follow up online. This will largely consist of an email but SMS messages can be built into your procedures as well.
Look for opportunities to build relationships with your guest online. Give them, or guide them through, content sharing opportunities. This can be done via a hashtag and social media, but it can also mean asking guests to review your company.
Look to provide content they’re looking for at key points in their journey:
Set them up with some reading and research they can do to brush up on the area they’re visiting. Let them know the history and current cultural state of the region. Make sure this content is delivered in a way that’s unique to your brand.
If they’re traveling to a place with a language that is foreign to them, provide them with some useful words and phrases. You can also provide packing lists, especially if they will be encountering extreme weather or are going to need specific gear.
During their Trip
Give them ways they can heighten their experience. Local suggestions of places to go and tips and tricks for the accommodation they are staying in are great personal touches.
Wrap up their time with you, thank them for choosing you, and remind them of some of their trip highlights.
By delivering unique content throughout this journey, you’re building your relationship with the guest and heightening their overall experience. You’re then in a better position to ask for reviews and create digital brand ambassadors that recommend your company to friends and family.
3. Invest in an app
Apps have improved by leaps and bounds and can really bring your guest experience to new heights. We’re no longer talking about accommodation maps or service hours information. Apps can and should do much more.
74% of guests(opens in a new tab) would use a hotel app if their favorite hotel had one. By introducing an app to someone’s smartphone you have an advertisement that sits within their device. It gives the ability to facilitate future bookings and keeps you fresh in their minds.
Think of ways you can be innovative with your app. How can you reflect the off-screen experience, on-screen? This should be done both with the content you provide and the UX experience you deliver. Look to build your community within your app. Provide free resources, enable a chat function with your team, and integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) with smart rooms.
4. Digitize operations
Once you’ve got your internal communications digitized, it’s time to start looking at your processes and operational structure. What elements can you digitize – or streamline if they’re digital already?
Today, there are so many integrations between systems that your workflow shouldn’t have to be a series of exporting and importing excel sheets.
Some tools you can look at to digitize your operations:
A Central Reservations System
Fantastic for getting a unified view of your current reservations. Prioritize your operations team’s tasks and align your sales and marketing team with what needs pushing.
There’s a lot of central reservations systems(opens in a new tab) out there, so make sure you pick one that is well suited to your company.
Surveys are a great way of collecting customers’ feedback. Send out a survey monkey(opens in a new tab) poll at the end of a guest’s experience and learn from the data you collect.
Need a signature for your B2B operations? No problem. Signaturit enables users to deliver an e-signature on a document rather than having to print the document, sign, and reupload it.
With a heap of sales, marketing, and communication integrations under its belt, Mailchimp(opens in a new tab) is a simple email management platform. Create journeys, campaigns, newsletters, and more.
Collect data, build and segment email lists, and give your guests the personal experience they deserve.
5. Digitize Customer Care
Last, but certainly not least, on our list to help digitize your hospitality business is your customer care. People don’t always have the opportunity to chat over the phone. It is good to have a phone solution for those that can, you also need to cater to those that can’t.
Look at ways you can take your customer care digital. It could be via email or a chat feature within your app or site. Use chatbots to hone in on topics you can help with before connecting your guest to the right person for the job. If you are interested in upgrading to a website with this capability, reach out to Tourism Tiger(opens in a new tab). They will be happy to help.
Chatbots are a great way of managing problems across time zones and find solutions without someone racking up a huge phone bill at the end of their trip.
Make sure to implement tone of voice guidelines in this step to ensure every guest gets the same brand experience, no matter which channel they choose to communicate with you on.
Hopefully, this article will bring you a step closer to digitizing your hospitality or travel business. There’s no end to what can be done online, so look to be agile and innovative in the ways you heighten not only your guest experience but your internal workflows too.
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