CASE STUDY: How hotels can drive more direct bookings
Gloria Hotel Dubai partnered with Neorcha to drive more direct bookings while providing an efficient check-in and check-out experience for guests. Hotelier Middle East finds out more
Direct bookings are important for hotels, especially in the age of OTAs and third-party travel booking companies. While online booking systems are clearly here to stay, hotels obviously prefer guests book directly through their own website; this helps cut fees which, many hoteliers have previously told Hotelier Middle East, are considered fairly high.
In light of this trend of encouraging direct bookings, four-star hotel Gloria Hotel Dubai Media City partnered with Neorcha, to deploy both the myHotel app and myCheck-in app.
THE RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVE
Gloria Hotel was looking for a mobile technology solution to drive more direct bookings, while offering guests a more streamlined and efficient check-in and check-out experience. In addition, the team was looking for a method that would support the collection and management of guest profile information, with the guest’s consent, to aid in improved customer relations management and marketing communications. The hotel also wanted a method that would support the hotel’s Green Globe commitment.
The property wanted to see a strong ROI for the introduction of technological innovations into its existing operations.
Gloria Hotel area general manager Freddy Farid said: “We’re always looking at innovative ways to enhance our customer experiences and optimise the efficiency of our operations.”
THE CONCEPT AND INVESTMENT
Neorcha’s hospitality technology solution, the myHotel app, helps maximise guest experiences by providing access to a range of hotel services, including pre-arrival arrangements, concierge services, destination information and express check-out, in the palm of their hand.
The myHotel app, a finalist at the 2015 European Hotel Technology Awards, has a messaging platform which allows simple and easy interaction between hoteliers and guests, whilst its GEO location feature maximises the effectiveness of a hotel’s marketing programme through integration that can dynamically, and in real time, alert guests to events and promotions.
MyCheck-in provides a stress-free, fast and efficient check-in experience for guests, which in turn enables hotel staff to devote more time and attention to guests by creating VIP experiences based on a deeper understanding of guest history and particulars. The streamlined process and use of technology means that guests are completely engaged in the process and can enjoy a more personable welcome from hotel employees who can step away from their desk and deliver an experience based on the knowledge the hotel has from the guest’s previous stay.
Both myHotel and myCheck-in integrate with hotel CRM, PMS, CRS, and POS systems, and can be fully customised to hotel brand standards and guidelines.
Once requirements were revealed by the hotel, the incorporation of hotel brand guidelines to customise the look and feel of the app took place. Following this was a collaboration with hotel IT to activate the different interfaces with third-party systems for integration (with weekly project checkpoints), after which the technology was delivered, deployed and tested, before going live.
THE PROGRAMME IN PRACTICE
Both the myHotel app and myCheck-in app were installed in the hotel in March 2018. The deployment of both apps was relatively fast, with it taking around four months to release version one, and a subsequent month for the iSign to go live.
The myCheck-in app allows regular customers and long-term stayers to start the check-in process in their transport, before arriving at the hotel. Gloria Hotel Dubai Media City also introduced Neorcha iSign — an ‘online check-in’ area in the main lobby of the hotel, which serves as an express lane for check-in and check-out. Following several adjustments to optimise the process and improve printing time, recent data revealed an increase in arrival and departure scores of 15% and 13% compared to last year.
“If guests choose to avail the pre-arrival and online check-in offered to them, the entire check-in procedure only requires a scan of their ID and payment authorisation, before issuing their keys and proposing an express check-out, which reduces the entire process to a couple of minutes. We are also more flexible with upgrades and departure times,” Farid added.
THE RESULTS TO DATE
The project is already yielding positive results with many hotel staff reporting that they have more time to focus on guests and value-add activities, with the integration between Neorcha’s platform and the hotel’s existing PMS.
Since its deployment, data revealed a 22% reduction in the commission payable to online travel agents, indicating an increase in the number of direct bookings through the myHotel app. Since the implementation of the paperless solution, the hotel has seen a 13% reduction in paper costs, compared to the previous year. The team anticipates that the savings will continue to grow.
The myCheck-in app has shown a significant reduction in the time required to complete the registration of guests. For the front-of-house, this means that they can increase the number of expected guests at any particular arrival time.
Taking into account the discount offered for bookings on the app, as well as the achieved reduction in third-party commissions, the ROI period was approximately three to four months.
Besides the financial gains, the hotel can now effectively capture guest information and preferences and directly and instantly communicate with them via the platform.
Farid commented: “The most frequent guest comment used to be about the length of time spent on check-in and check-out. This type of comment has not only been virtually eliminated, but we’re actually receiving compliments on how quick these processes have become, which is very encouraging.”