The pandemic has turned much of the travel industry on its head. But there's still intense competition between companies working with hospitality. So, how can UCaaS help companies meet their challenges?
In its 2019 report on travel and hospitality, Deloitte offers reasons for dynamic growth. It asserts that “A strong economy, rising global consumer purchasing power, and digital innovation have all fueled record growth in the travel and hospitality industry.” The global big four accounting firm cites hotspots like Portugal and Vietnam where annual growth remains in the range of 20-30 percent.
However, that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas the industry was booming in 2019, 2020 put a stop to that. People weren't traveling as they used to. But despite a steep drop in tourism, it's still important for hotels to stay on their toes – not only to be the one that tourists turn to – but also to be prepared once traveling takes off again.
Deloitte cautions that expenses are hurting margins. “Rising operating costs are putting travel brands under immense pressure.” Also, hoteliers are intensely aware of the impact of the sharing economy. It is crucial to embrace new and effective ways to compete and to improve margins. Cloud-based, unified communications is one option.
From legacy hardware to cloud PBX
UCaaS has already ushered in a change in sectors as diverse as retail, banking, healthcare and education. In retail venues, it enables lightning-fast transactions, robust features and expanded real-time services. In healthcare, it advances telemedicine and facilitates physician consultations. Now, the hospitality industry is embracing its advantages as well. Many hoteliers find the transition from legacy hardware to cloud-based communications compelling indeed.
Free employees to select the mode of communication appropriate to each situation. Say goodbye to non-integrated devices like walkie-talkies. Say hello to all-in-one mobile devices accessing myriad services through cloud-based UCaaS. Wherever the employee might be on resort property, instant messaging, voice and video are always available. In hospitality, the best human connections are the most customised ones. A guest has a special request, and the staff fulfills it. Customer loyalty deepens in the process.
What is UCaaS?
Defining UCaaS is an important first step. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a cloud-based service. UCaaS unifies once disparate communication channels. The result is a truly holistic system of communications. It works at individual venues, including sprawling resorts. It also serves the needs of hotel chains with dozens of locations in many countries.
UCaaS is the next step beyond traditional Unified Communications (UC). Earlier hardware-based UC improved services at hotels, motels and resorts. It did so in large part by integrating by key communication channels, including telephony, PBX, chat, mail and video calls. However, this previous generation of communication systems were expensive to maintain and manage.
Now, with UCaaS, there’s a new and better way to deploy Unified Communications. It moves to the cloud as a subscription-based service. UCaaS in hotels and hospitality delivers new levels of convenience and efficiency. At the same time, it also improves the bottom line.
Challenges in hospitality communications
Overall, Airbnb and Uber are emblematic of a dramatic shift to the so-called “sharing economy.” In this reimagined market, hospitality’s embrace of UCaaS is critical to delivering what guests expect. The goal of frictionless guest experiences is more important than ever.
As expectations rise, hotel guests are too often frustrated by:
- Lost reservations
- Phantom flashing red lights on phones that bedevil many a hotel stay
- Missed wake-up calls and other fumbled guest requests
- Package tracking and delivery problems
Historically, both workers and guests had to run an inordinate number of requests through the front desk.
How UCaaS in hospitality meets these challenges
UCaaS improves the guest and worker experiences in myriad ways. Certain benefits accrue more to the business, others to the guests. Overall, they simultaneously deliver happier guests, more fulfilled staff and better profits. Let’s take a closer look at how UCaaS in hotels and hospitality enhances the well being of guests. Let’s also take a look at how UCaaS simplifies operations and enhances productivity.
1. Simplified deployment and operations
With UCaaS, traditional location-based telephony becomes a relic, a thing of the past. Cloud-based communication is easily integrated across all hotel locations. Enterprises aggressively pursuing growth find that UCaaS is eminently scalable.
Guests interact with hotels via phone, Internet, mobile app and contact centers. UCaaS makes it possible to integrate diverse services, such as property management, front desk services, room billing and instant messaging.
With UCaaS, gone are the days of large capital outlays and intensive training sessions. A subscription-based service is an attractive alternative to capital investments in hardware. At the same time, UCaaS works with legacy systems until they are eventually replaced. Compared to traditional alternatives, it is relatively easy to deploy across multiple departments and locations.
With UCaaS, resorts offering bundled services can deliver them anywhere, at any time, via smartphone. Hotels with conference centers are ideal candidates for UCaaS. Among other things, it facilitates a rapid response to myriad requests from hundreds or even thousands of guests and attendees. It is possible to increase revenue via customised communication services. Examples include video conferencing and voice via WiFi.
Members of the hospitality team enjoy seamless communication via voice, text, video and more. They are less stressed even as guests enjoy speedier, more accurate responses to their important requests.
Subscription-based, cloud-based UCaaS is eminently scaleable. It is an ideal option for chains embarking on rapid expansion. At the same time, a variety of boutique establishments are among the first to embrace UCaaS for hotels and hospitality.
2. An improved customer experience
Hotels deal with a deluge of inquiries, requests and ever-changing reservations. In this demanding environment, state-of-the-art communication is key. Both customer satisfaction and productivity are at stake.
Today’s guests interact with hotels via more channels than ever before. A guest may book a room on his/her computer, then monitor the reservation on a mobile app. The guest may also reach out to the hotel chain’s call center for assistance. Cloud-based UCaaS promises seamless and consistent guest experiences across all channels.
Employees armed with mobile devices are more empowered to serve guests. It is possible to immediately act upon special guest requests. Communication flows the other way as well. For example, workers can quickly relay emergency announcements to guests. Business travelers enjoy more seamless transitions between calls, contacts and concierge services. Every second saved enhances guest satisfaction. Time saved invariably adds to the hotel’s bottom line.
In hospitality, guest engagement rules. A Gallup study highlights how engagement impacts revenue. It compared the expenditures of “fully engaged” and “actively disengaged” guests. The study looked at a hotel a given guest stayed at the most over the past year. Guests defined as fully engaged spent an average of $588/day. Guests defined as actively disengaged spent an average of $403/day, almost one-third less. By both unifying and accelerating hotel-guest interaction, UCaaS enhances guest engagement.
3. Productivity and the virtual front desk
Increased deployment of hotel mobile devices parallels the increased implementation of UCaaS. For example, employees may check guests in on tablets. Increasingly, guests arrive at their room to find a mobile tablet waiting for them. Everyone benefits from the efficiency of digital connections that reduce phone conversations.
For many workers, impacting the lives of guests in meaningful ways is one of the most fulfilling aspects of the job. With UCaaS, it is possible to further empower employees to serve guests in memorable ways. Instant messaging is one example. The video call is another. And by integrating communications with for example CRM systems, customer support can be improved immensely.
The power of UCaaS facilitates this new era of the virtual front desk. No longer are employees and guests tethered to a physical place. No longer do guest communications only consist of phone calls and knocks on the door.
When guests have questions, they want answers. For example, they may want to save every possible moment for their “vacation of a lifetime.” Or, they may be on a business trip jam-packed with meetings. From a business guest’s perspective, UCaaS transforms the hotel room into a true hub of essential activities. Integrated digital communications benefit vacationers, business travelers and hotel employees alike. All parties find the new concept of the virtual front desk more freeing and productive.
4. UCaaS helps relieving IT pressures
In hospitality, disruptions to critical communications services often escalate to crisis levels. Cloud-based UCaaS is the antidote to this dreaded affliction. Many enterprises that embrace UCaaS see a dramatic improvement in uptime. Gone are the days of IT workers putting in overtime as they tackle problems with in-house systems.
Cloud-based UCaaS is often a lot easier to manage and administer than old on-premise systems. An on-premise solution is costly and hard to manage by yourself. A cloud solution, on the other hand, allows you to automate certain tasks, scale your business, save time and be cost-effective!
5. Scalability across many locations
Multinational hoteliers stand to gain a great deal from a decisive transition to the cloud. Mergers and acquisitions have saddle hoteliers with outdated and incompatible communications infrastructures. Such organisations are key beneficiaries of the efficiencies of UCaaS.
With a cloud-based UCaaS solution, it's easy to manage the administration for different locations through one place. Need to change the opening hours for a location or reorder the call queues in your PBX? No problem!
6. Accomodates heightened guest expectations
Hoteliers are mindful of an important reality about business travelers. Many are in touch with the latest developments in modern digital communications. Back at the office, many such guests already enjoy the productivity gains of UCaaS. When they travel, they expect the same convenience and productivity.
The trick is to deliver the information guests seek without delay or confusion. It is ideal to integrate a streamlined communication system with an effective mobile app. Together, they constitute an ideal user-friendly interface. Make a reservation at the spa? Done. Order room service? Done. Complete an early checkout? Done. Overall, enjoy a seamless, frictionless experience? Done.
This level of customisation makes a hotel room or suite the coveted “home away from home” guests seek.
7. Personalised service
There are two different kinds of guests. First, there’s the guest who queues up in line after line. The experience reminds them that they are but one of the hundreds of current hotel visitors. The other is the guest made to feel that he/she is the one that matters - pampered and served at every turn. UCaaS helps usher in a new era of truly individualised guest services. For example, a repeat visitor with a history of frequenting the gym might receive texts about fitness center hours.
Vacationing guests want to escape the workaday world for a bit, to get away from it all. They don’t want to leave the traffic jams of their daily commute only to be made to feel like they’re just part of the crowd at their hotel. Business travelers covet individualisation for the sake of productivity. Chasing down misplaced packages or dealing with room service errors runs counter to that quest for productivity.
On the international stage, the stakes are even higher. International travelers grapple with a daunting array of challenges. Jet lag is but one example. For the vacationer who rarely travels, the experience is daunting, even disorienting. Even the savviest business travelers face special needs far from home.
Hotels that fail to care for these guests risk alienation. Reviews on third-party websites raise the stakes even higher. Profits and losses hinge on guest satisfaction. UCaaS brings coherence and efficiency to this high-stakes hospitality culture. It is important for hospitality professionals to embrace a modern communications infrastructure.
The Future of hospitality
UCaaS blends well with other technologies impacting hospitality now and in the near future. Oracle’s Hotel 2025 report focuses on emerging technologies in the hospitality sector. Researchers gathered information from interviews with CIOs and CTOs working for 150 hoteliers. It analyses the potential impact of trending developments. Examples include smart hotel design, AI, wearable tech, robotics and driverless transport. The report also suggests that biometrics and facial recognition will be part of tomorrow's hotels.
According to the report, “71% of hotel operators said wearable technology for staff scheduling and training would be mainstream or in mass adoption by 2025.” Even more respondents expect widespread use of biometrics for automated staff recognition.
UCaaS will also play an important role in tomorrow's hotel environment. For many in the industry, adoption is not a matter of “if" – it is a matter of “when.”
Telavox delivers UCaaS solutions that benefit those in the hospitality industry. With UCaaS, hoteliers see simultaneous gains in productivity, guest satisfaction and security. The team at Telavox has developed ways to deliver cloud-based efficiencies since 2002. Today, the company's world-class communications platforms operate in diverse industries. In fact, more than 250,000 users already enjoy the efficiency and accessibility of Telavox systems.
We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your communication needs. For prompt, attentive and professional assistance, please contact us today.