Webinar Recap: Creating a High-Touch Customer Experience with Contactless Business
Sertifi was excited to host “Creating a High-Touch Customer Experience with Contactless Business,” a webinar on the HFTP network with special guest, Infor Hospitality. The webinar focused on the top technology trends currently impacting the hospitality industry and its customers’ experiences, the digital-first guest’s expectations and how to meet them using convenience, and the future of the hospitality industry in a post-COVID world.
- Michelle Young, Senior Vice President of Sales at Sertifi
- Phil Bryan, Director of Product at Sertifi
- David Purcell, Vice President of Product Management at Infor Hospitality
Who is the digital-first guest?
The speakers began the session by introducing the hospitality industry’s newest, most challenging customer to date: the digital-first guest. They're enticed by digital processes that are mobile-friendly, personalized, and secure – which, when combined, create a powerfully seamless experience.
“The digital-first customer is expecting convenience," Michelle explained. “They are looking for greater control and for their travel experience to be exactly that: an experience.”
“Guests are expecting a lot of self-service," David added. “They are expecting to be able to manage their requests and any other interactions with the hotel from a mobile device. Everything that the hotel would usually do – they want the option or choice to control.”
How can hotels continue to be hospitable if in-person interactions no longer take place?
The answer is simple: meeting digital-first demands with personalized, digital solutions. Our speakers presented a plan of action highlighting when and where to offer seamless solutions within a guest’s journey to meet each guest at their current level of need.
To create a seamless experience before a guest’s arrival, hoteliers must prioritize the following solutions:
- Having an integrated tech stack
- Providing online booking and digital forms
- Providing flexible and secure payment options
- Offering an online chat option
- Applying personalization
Every step of a guest’s experience is an experience within itself. Therefore, each step is taken into consideration by the digital-first guest, impacting their willingness to do business with a company. Before attempting to reach guests digitally, it's important to have an integrated tech stack that supports digital forms, online booking, and secure online payments – not only on a guest’s mobile device but also within the digital platforms used by hotel staff.
“The right integrations can mean less system hopping for your guests. It’s important to create a seamless experience for them and a more efficient journey," Phil explained.
A seamless experience requires more than just convenience. It needs to be secure.
Sending credit card information over fax or email comes with a definite possibility of an information breach, which is why integrated credit card gateways and processors are critical for the success of a business’s digital solution strategy. “Digitizing your workflow makes it easier to stay compliant. That decreases your fraud by over 90 percent,” Michelle expressed. “We typically find that people who are using digital forms and online booking are reducing chargebacks by at least one or two chargebacks per month. The digital form also allows you to remove outdated processes like paper and fax and provide your guests with the security that they expect.”
On top of security, the digital-first guest wants to be supported.
By providing a chat function for guests to utilize before and during their stay, companies can easily offer consistent support without requiring guests to commit to long-term actions. To support this statement, David shared the statistic stating that 65 percent to 75 percent of guests’ questions are answered via chat. This is because the digital-first guest prefers to chat via text rather than make a phone call.
Personalization is another way to offer support and is key when marketing to the digital-first guest. In the past, hotels have used quantitative data collected after a guest’s experience such as the number of nights they stayed or the number of experiences they paid for during their visit to create a decided value for each guest.
Now more than ever, it's important for hotels to build marketing strategies using qualitative data that has been collected before guests even consider booking an experience, giving companies the chance to personalize a guest’s experience from start to finish. David described personalization as a “tool to create value and build loyalty.” Data points can include spending patterns, website engagement, ad interest, and past experiences. Once a hotel understands their guest, they can ask the question, “What should I be offering, where should I offer it, which medium should I use to market it, and how can I use this information upon the guest’s arrival and throughout their experience?” to bring a guest back for more.
The three speakers then moved on to how one can provide a seamless guest experience upon arrival by applying the following solutions:
- Applying personalization
- Contactless check-In
- Tableside ordering
- Payment mobility
- Mobile readiness
“Personalization at arrival is an extension of a guest’s online experience pre-arrival and would be whether or not the guest stops at the front desk to check in or opt for a contactless check-in," explained Michelle. A contactless check-in allows guests to feel comfortable enough to take control of their stay as a front desk clerk would do by using their mobile device. It gives guests a choice and by letting them choose their own adventure, they feel trusted and supported.
Tableside ordering, payment mobility, and mobile readiness allow guests to once again control their experience. Through mobile applications, QR codes, websites, and more guests can easily execute any task while traveling without in-person assistance. For example, the digital-first guest assumes that they do not have to stop at the front desk to check out because they have already paid for their stay on their phone and have received a confirmation notice if the hotel they are staying at utilizes these mobile solutions. Being able to submit payments, sign agreements, and receive documents digitally anywhere at any time is the level of convenience that the digital-first guest expects and prefers. The utilization of mobile apps and digitized processes allow both guests and staff to use their mobile devices to access information which adds a tremendous amount of value to a seamless guest experience.
After framing the digital-guest experience from beginning to end, Michelle, Phil, and David outlined the impact companies can expect on their ROI after implementing digital solutions to automate and personalize the customer experience and digitize staff workflows.
Earlier in the presentation, a poll was conducted with the audience that asked, “What is the most common reason your organization is hesitant to invest in new technology?” and the number one answer was budget concerns. Michelle followed up on this finding by sharing that once a company implements digital authorizations, form signing, and payments, their revenue increases, and their reduction of chargebacks increases, saving the company money and time while securing valuable information.
More ROI factors one can expect include:
- Better customer retention
- Increased revenue
- Lower operational costs
- Easier staff training
- Competitive edge
The speakers concluded the webinar by stating their expectations for the hospitality tech industry and their predictions for what is to come. Here are their predictions:
- The demand for mobile readiness will continue to increase as Generation Z starts booking experiences.
- In-room access to personal entertainment accounts as movie streaming and gaming platforms will become available in hotel rooms.
- There will be increased use of AI and analytics to collect guest data and deliver personalized experiences.
- Greater automation and a seamless journey across all touchpoints of a guest experience will consistently be offered at every hospitality establishment.
We’d like to thank the HFTP Network for providing us with a platform to host innovative industry-focused discussions and Infor Hospitality for assisting us in delivering this presentation.
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