Posts Tagged ‘concierge’

24/7/365 Concierge!

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Where do you go when the CVBs and Chamber of Commerce offices close at 5 p.m. nationwide to get concierge information?

Who do you talk to when at the front desk of every hotel and motel where the staff changes or a young person answers, “There’s nothing to do around here.” or “I don’t know.”?

At a gas station, convenience store or a department store when the staff says the same as above?

The Bed and Breakfast owners worldwide provide the only consistent concierge service 24/7/365! Especially when you want and cherish personal attention to your needs, you want someone who can tailor all the information you need and who will go the extra mile to find the answers you need!

Check out www.nebraskabb.com

Hotels turning to digital concierge services

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Hotels turning to digital concierge services

By Jane L. Levere

New York Times

Posted: 07/04/2011 04:46:56 AM PDT
Updated: 07/04/2011 04:47:03 AM PDT

 

Click photo to enlarge

Wes Landsfeld, from Ft. Worth, Texas, uses the GoBoard, a 55-inch… ( LIBRADO ROMERO )

Some hotels have begun to expand the definition of concierge to mean more than just a knowledgeable employee. It now can also mean smart digital devices. Software companies are creating programs that offer information like restaurant recommendations, flight arrivals and departures and driving directions via smartphones, touch-screen devices, iPads and other electronics to guests at mintier hotels that do not provide traditional concierge services.

Even more upscale brands that employ human concierges are joining in. They are offering location-specific information, developed by each hotel’s staff, accessible via the Internet, iPhone apps and even live chats. And all Hyatt hotels let guests send requests, via Twitter, to customer service agents who are on call 24 hours a day.

When it comes to concierge services, “we as an industry cannot operate in an analog way in a digital world,” said John Wallis, global head of marketing and brand strategy for Hyatt Hotels.

With the proliferation of misprice and limited-service brands, high-tech concierge services represent an effort by hotel companies “to differentiate themselves, to add a service that usually ranks among the highest for guest satisfaction and to achieve higher rates,” said Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University.

He said


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these services could be more attractive to younger guests, “Gen-Xers and Millennials, the target segment for many of these brands, who typically require or even prefer less personal interaction, and desire quick answers, any time, day or night.” Older, more international guests, he said, “tend to prefer personal service.”Still, the question remains whether digital concierges can ever equal their human counterparts. Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst for Forrester Research, said he did not think they would. “Nothing will ever replace a face-to-face concierge,” he said. “A guest visiting a city for the first time will have a lot of questions and will need to have interaction with a concierge that technology won’t replace.”

But hotel chains are moving ahead with the digital version nonetheless. InterContinental Hotels has been among the most aggressive developers of high-tech concierge services, starting in 2007 with videos starring individual hotel concierges offering destination-specific advice. Today, 150 of the brand’s 171 hotels have created the videos, which are available on each hotel’s website and on YouTube and iTunes.

Intercontinental has given, on a trial basis, iPads to concierges at 10 hotels to offer guests advice. It has also developed an iPad app with the same information for use by guests. In addition, the company is now testing live chats between guests and concierges through Skype and FaceTime, by Apple (AAPL). Hotel employees meet weekly to update destination information. And guests receive an email from the chief concierge five days before arrival offering suggestions and maps.

Last year, Marriott International’s Renaissance hotels — there are more than 150 in 34 countries — introduced a program called Navigator that offers suggestions for dining, drinks, shopping and sightseeing. This information, generated by Wcities, an online destination content provider, and by hotel employees, can be found on each hotel’s Web page and on an iPhone app. Guests can also ask Renaissance’s human concierges for help.

Hyatt’s high-tech concierge service, offered to guests at all of its hotels, luxury or mintier, is Twitter-based. Introduced two years ago, it lets guests send requests to HyattConcierge. Customer service agents in Omaha; Mainz, Germany; and Melbourne, Australia, must respond to messages in 15 minutes or less. If requests require more than a 140-character response, the agent will email or call the guest. One recent message came from a guest at the Andaz Wall Street, who, rather than calling hotel workers directly, requested a hangover remedy that included two extra-strength Advil and wheat toast with butter.

Marriott International’s Courtyard, a mintier brand, has gone in a different digital direction. Its GoBoard, a 55-inch touch-screen device in the hotel lobby uses software, from Four Winds Interactive, to provide weather information, news headlines and employee recommendations for restaurants and other local attractions. Marriott plans to upgrade the information provided through the devices this summer, and will offer them brandwide by 2013, said Janis Milham, vice president of Courtyard.

Intelity, another software provider, is working with Wyndham’s Wingate hotels, Starwood’s Aloft hotels and others to give guests airline information as well as customized dining, shopping and recreation recommendations through laptops, iPads, touch-screen devices, televisions and mobile phones.

Wyndham Worldwide will give owners of hotels in its 15 brands the option of offering the Intelity service to guests, said Paul Davis, senior vice president for strategic sourcing. He said some of the recommendations of service providers are paid listings by the providers.

Aloft is testing Intelity’s program on iPads in hotel lobbies. Brian McGuinness, Aloft’s global brand leader, said much information offered to guests was generated by hotel employees and none is the result of advertising.

Creating an Insider’s Guide

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Creating an Insider’s Guide

Without too much effort, you can help serve guests with custom guides.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Steve Pike
Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston
Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston

Opened in 1912, Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel is one of the great landmarks in a city filled with landmarks. But even landmarks need to stay up with the times. The Fairmont Copley Plaza has launched a weekly “insider’s guide to Boston” via a QR code for guests’ smartphones.

A QR (Quick Response) code basically is a two-dimensional bar code that can be encoded with information such as text and URL. The Fairmont Copley Plaza uses it to link guests to its newsletter. The newsletter features news and information about the 383-room hotel as well as the insider’s guide to some events and sites around the city.

“Guests can access the QR code check in,” said Suzanne Wenz, director of public relations for the Fairmont Copley Plaza. “It doesn’t replace any kind of concierge service or all the things that go with that service; it’s just something that a little bit fun.

“We’re a historic hotel. I think it’s always nice when a historic hotel incorporates something more ‘techy.’ We’re really having fun with it. It saves a little paper, too. Our restaurant went to a local event recently where we wanted people to have the menu. They got it off the QR code, which went right to the menu.”

Applying a QR code, Wenz said, is simple and free. A property can find a QR code generator online and plug in the URL it wants to track.

“It doesn’t take a lot of manpower,” Wenz said.

The “insider’s guide” inside the newsletter isn’t your typical city guide. That is, most visitors to the capital of Red Sox Nation know about Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail, Quincy Market and the boutiques and restaurants on Newberry Street. What the Fairmont Copley Plaza wants to provide is short guide to the Boston the locals know and love.

“What we try to do pick things most people don’t think about,” said Wenz, who has lived in Boston for the past 20 years. “Everybody wants to check out the Freedom Trail – and they should – but what our little newsletter is meant to do is provide information on things off the beaten path that maybe people don’t know about .

“I work with our marketing coordinator and we work with our colleagues at the front desk and concierge desk because they have their ears to the ground to what’s cool and what’s fun to do in Boston. So between all of us we’re able to offer something for a lot of interests. It’s our way of saying, ‘here are some things we like to do and we thought you might like them, too.’”

Adventure Travel Takes Off

Friday, March 4th, 2011
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Adventure Travel Takes Off

The niche is growing as people seek authentic experiences in new locations.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Beth Kormanik

You don’t have to be certified in scuba diving or know what a crampon is to be an adventure traveler.

“Adventure travel has come a long way in the last few years,” said Shannon Stowell, president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, speaking at the New York Times Travel Show last week. “Ten years ago, it was, who let the hippies in the building?”

The segment is important for hoteliers because not every adventure traveler wants to spend the night in a tent.

Adventure travel represents an $89 billion market globally, according to research the ATTA commissioned from George Washington University and Xola Consulting. People take about 150 million adventure trips a year, both with operators and on their own.

The association, which counts among its members hotels and resorts, tour operators, tourism boards, service providers, defines adventure travel as having three components: physical activity, cultural immersion and the outdoors. Travelers can engage in rigorous activities including snorkeling and diving, to less rigorous volunteer tourism to birdwatching.

The study, which surveyed 855 respondents in the three largest outbound markets – Europe, North America and Latin America – found that 26 percent of respondents indicated that they participated in adventure travel activities and 16 percent of all international departures from these three regions were for adventure travel.

“It was surprising to us,” Stowell said of the later figure. “We expected the number to be lower, but that’s the case.”

The research found that “adventure travelers place a higher importance on exploring new places, time to be in nature, meeting and engaging with local cultures and pushing their physical limits.”

Adventure travelers tend to be a more affluent and educated group, the research showed, and spends a lot on gear and clothing – an important note for hotel shops.

But like other segments of the tourism industry, adventure travel operators felt the sting of the recession. Booking windows shortened and trips were down. But from 2009 to 2010, nearly two-thirds of tour operators said their total gross revenue was up, according to an ATTA survey of 300 tour operators. They also reported to the ATTA that they were hiring more full-time employees.

To attract adventure travelers, hotels should get to know tour operators and travel agents who can steer these guests to your hotel.

The 26-room Minnewaska Lodge in Gardiner, N.Y., has become a destination for adventure travelers. The lodge is located on 17 acres at the based of the Shawangunk Mountains, and sales manager Gunter Spilhaus estimated that about three-quarters of the lodge’s guests come to hike and bike.

Spilhaus said Minnewaska Lodge has an “adventure concierge” to help its guests, whether they are first-time adventure travelers or experienced people who are coming to train in the area. The concierge program began as a marketing tool, Spilhaus said, but it has become an important point of contact for guests.

The concierge can go beyond providing hiking and biking trails. Some guests don’t have their own gear or don’t want to travel with it. The lodge’s staff can arrange rentals with local vendors for guests who need a bicycle, cross country skis or local guides.

Chris Doyle, vice president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, said destinations can reshape the way tourists view them by marketing themselves as adventure tourism destinations. Some operators are getting creative, combining activities such as biking in the morning and wine tasting in the afternoon.

In a survey of more than 100 tourism boards, 85 percent now recognize adventure travel as a standalone sector.

“This industry has come together,” Stowell said. “Adventure travel has now entered the minds, the budgets and the lexicon of tourism professionals, whereas years ago that was not necessarily the case.”

Glorida Guevara Manzo, Mexico’s secretary of tourism, said in video comments at the travel show that tourists to Mexico have an appetite for adventure travel.

“The travelers now are experienced, they are experts and have information from the web, and when they come to the country they know exactly what to do and where to go, and they’re asking for experiences that we didn’t offer before.”

She emphasized that Mexican President Felipe Calderon supports the effort.

“We’re very lucky to have a president that is very committed to adventure travel,” she said. “That’s a priority for the boss, the president, and it’s a priority for everyone.”

Adventure travel appeals to travelers’ interest in eco-tourism, and they seek companies with an authentic commitment to the practice. Stowell said adventure travel companies obviously are in business to make money, but also to practice sustainable tourism.

It’s a key marketing message.

“We’re a force for good in the world,” he said. “Once you go on these trips, it changes you forever.”



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