Martin Chevalley, founder & CEO of InnSpire, answers questions on integrating technology with service to maximise revenue for your property and experience for your guests.
Why, in these straightened times, should I make this investment?
“The main reason to invest in technology is to create a seamless, integrated guest experience which allows you to drive added revenue, while also reducing expenses.
“In terms of costs, you need fewer employees and your available staff can be more efficient. In terms of offering a better experience, you can add in activities, food and beverage; anything you have at your hotel or resort that drives both revenue and guest satisfaction. For example, F&B spend typically increases by between 20% and 25%.”
Is it difficult for the team and guests to use?
“It’s very accessible and it’s very graphical. We’re on the television, but we’re also on the app. You could be ordering on your phone, from the beach or from the pool, and orders are delivered to you wherever you are. So, when you order on the beach, it tells the kitchen exactly who you are and a map will even drop a pin, so servers know where to deliver your order.
“The ease of use then helps to drive orders. Before this, servers had to be looking around to see who wanted to order, which is a tedious process. Now the orders just come in, which drives revenue, and adds tips with more orders, saving time and making it easier for guests to order.
“There is also a marketing aspect. It’s on TV, so with a larger picture, the F&B items offered look excellent. It’s making recommendations, so it might just be as simple as that it reminds you that you’re hungry. Then you start looking at the menu and ordering.
“It’s built around upselling. It’s a learning system, so it learns how people are using it and makes recommendations based on that, although initially we set it up with a sommelier making the selections. People tend to add more items to their bill because it’s so easy.
“It’s also nonintrusive. No-one is pushing you to get a glass of wine. It’s just there and it sounds good, and you click it. We work with a lot of luxury hotels and resort hotels, and people tend to be in the mood to splash out when they’re on those breaks. We make that easier.
“We see ourselves as an integration powerhouse, tying different technologies and products together. So as a guest, you’re not realising that you’re integrating with maybe 20 different technologies. You’re checking in, you’re getting your key, you’re opening your door, you’re ordering food, you’re setting the temperature in your room, you’re turning on the lights, you’re turning on the TV, you’re casting, it’s a whole myriad of different technologies that you’re dealing with. But all you deal with is your phone. It’s seamless and super easy.”
Do you cover the whole guest journey or just the stay?
“As soon as there is a booking, you will receive an email or an SMS saying, ‘Hey, welcome to X hotel click this link to start the experience’. That opens in a web- based version of the app because we don’t believe that, at this early stage, few people are interested in actually downloading an app before they know the value of it. The web-based version looks like an app, but it’s actually just in the browser.
“You have all the information, all the pre-bookings and experiences and we have an agenda where you can drag and drop options. Let’s say that you’re planning to go scuba diving and you want to have dinner on the beach, you can build your own schedule. This creates value for the guests because they’re going to enjoy their stay more, but at the same time, it’s giving the hotel all these upsell opportunities.
“So, the experience starts at that stage and then it continues, even as you’re approaching the hotel. For example, when you land at the airport, that can be geo-fenced, so it can trigger and say, ‘welcome to this airport, your car is waiting for you outside’ or ‘take this boat or take this plane or take the taxi’. While you’re on your way, you can check in by scanning your passport and retrieving your booking. The solution will then pull that reservation up and guest can check in and if the hotel has a smart door lock system, then will even access to the key - all before you arrive.”
How are luxury hotels adapting to this changing view of service?
“There was resistance before the pandemic, but this has shifted. Because you have already checked in by the time you arrive, that means that the staff, instead of hiding behind the desk and typing at their keyboard all day long, can be out in the lobby and greeting guests. They might even recognise guests, because they know what they look like from the check-in process. I think it will be more personal rather than less so.”
There are lots of these products on the market. Why you?
“There are many products in the space that are scattered and they do only one thing. They may do a doorlock integration, they may have an F&B service, somebody might have a TV system. But if you were to buy all of these, you would get the most incoherent and disconnected experience ever.
“And that’s what it’s been like in hotels, the TV is not the same as the app or the door lock, or where you order food, it’s just different ways. And it’s just very confusing for the guests. We are on the opposite spectrum of that, as we are a 360-degree solution, which means that we do all the above in one seamless package.
“But not everyone is ready for that leap. That’s why we’re working with key groups to grow with them. It’s very modular, like Lego. You can pick and choose what you need and you can start anywhere. You need a TV system right now, next year, an app or the year to enhance your Wi-Fi. We do all these things, but always with one basic system at the foundation of it.
“We keep growing and we keep integrating, I believe we are different from others because we don’t want to grow too much, and we don’t want every customer. We believe in aligning with like-minded hoteliers and groups that share our vision of a seamless guest journey, resulting in extraordinary service and convenience.
We want to stay small and nimble and grow together with our clients and partners – as they grow and evolve and as they add new hotels and have new needs. That’s how we grow. We really are a comprehensive platform that keeps evolving, both in terms of integration and also in terms of front end.”