A Five-Step Plan for Building a Compelling Digital Guest Experience
Pursuing a comprehensive Connected Guest program that delivers true value in a digital guest experience package is a goal that will bring a large number of benefits to hospitality properties. However, the scope of a full Connected Guest program combined with the rapidly changing technology landscape and large number of integration points can be daunting. To address this challenge, hospitality properties should follow the same proven 5-step process that we use at Concannon Business Consulting to research, define, implement, and get up and running with Connected Guest solutions quickly and efficiently.
1. Understand what your customers want
Every hospitality property occupies a slightly different market position and serves slightly different customers. The first step to developing a successful Connected Guest program is to understand exactly what services, features, and options your guests care about and want to see during their stays. For example, business travelers typically want streamlined, low-fuss, and low-touch experiences. Leisure travelers, on the other hand, are looking for more comprehensive enjoyment-oriented services. The Connected Guest focus for each of these customer segments is different and requires a different suite of technologies and connected systems. Our approach leverages a combination of market research, customer interviews, and data analysis to help you determine exactly the right set of Connected Guest features to serve your customers.
2. Evaluate existing infrastructure and tools
No Connected Guest program is built in a vacuum. From staff messaging systems to reservation and check-in management to in-room connected devices, hospitality properties have existing infrastructure and tools that a Connected Guest program needs to integrate with and augment. Reducing friction and implementation time in this complex environment requires a solid understanding of all the tools, technologies, and processes that already exist on-premises and in the cloud. Building a connected program then leverages this understanding to avoid roadblocks and ensure efficiency. Our expert team knows how to thoroughly evaluate existing infrastructure and determine exactly what integration points exist, what is already good enough, and what needs to be built from scratch.
3. Develop a realistic plan of action
It is easy to get overwhelmed with the options available in the Connected Guest space and put together a roadmap for implementing every bell and whistle on the market. However, a plan that is too ambitious will both take too long to implement and miss out on quick wins with customers that can boost loyalty and brand recognition today. A much better approach is to develop a Connected Guest plan with realistic near-term goals and wins, then branch out as the program proves itself. CBC approaches Connected Guest with this in mind, combining our customer understanding with a value-first mindset to technology implementation. Our planning phase aims to deliver Connected Guest programs that are deployed quickly, within client budgets, and that deliver the core features guests really want to see.
4. Implement a pilot program
Connected Guest is fundamentally a suite of technologies and services enabling new experiences bolstered by digital capabilities that bring a magic factor to guest stays. As with most modern technology-focused programs, the best way to approach implementation is to first run a pilot rather than pursuing broad-scale implementation everywhere. In the hospitality space this typically means choosing a single property, or even a single set of rooms, and implementing the technology, processes, and training required for the chosen Connected Guest services. This single pilot acts as a test environment for both evaluating the guest experience and response, and for troubleshooting any issues that come up in an environment where rapid response and solution deployment is possible.
5. Iterate and expand
Once the pilot program has been vetted and proven its effectiveness, the final step is to expand the Connected Guest platform to additional areas and extend its functionality to meet farther-reaching goals. The best approach to accomplish this is to iterate on the platform successively to add new features and capabilities on a regular cadence. As new features are developed, they can then be tested and deployed in additional pilot programs prior to being enabled across the entire chain. The key goal is to continuously improve the digital guest experience without negatively impacting existing processes or guest expectations. CBC has extensive experience developing complex platforms this way, leveraging a combination of hardware, software, and connectivity to build experience-driven products over time.