Hotel Illuster & Hotel Banana City, are part of one of the well-known real estate companies in Switzerland, owning, developing & managing residential and commercial properties, as well as shopping centres in the cantons of Zurich, Thurgau, St. Gallen and Aargau. Amongst its assets, the company operates two properties in the business.
Hotel Illuster, based in Uster, offers 60 spacious rooms and combines the vibrant city vibes of Zürich with the inspiring nature of the alps. The property is particularly well adapted to business guests who appreciate simplicity, quietness and efficiency.
With its 101 rooms, Hotel Banana City, based in the strategic location of Winterthur, is the ideal place for business meetings, conferences and company get-togethers, while also providing the perfect place to escape the hustle of everyday life with a fully-fletched spa and food & beverage offer where modern cuisine meets regional products.
We recently sat down with Emanuele Cosomati, General Manager at Hotel Iluster. He shared some of the challenges the group was able to overcome with Apaleo, from streamlining transactional processes with guests to making teams more efficient.
Challenge: Transactional actions were time-consuming for reception staff and hindered a seamless guest experience
The first item on Emanuele’s agenda was to eliminate most of the unnecessary manual tasks for his front-office & reservations team. Until recently, every single reservation required 3 different actions:
Generating the booking confirmation, editing it to ensure accurate data, exporting it and sending it out to the guest
Manually entering the data from the paper registration form into the system
Generating the invoice, editing it to ensure accurate data, exporting it and sending it out to the guest
All this was very cumbersome and, obviously, left high chances for manual error while affecting the guest experience with long wait times, low-quality interactions with Hotel Illuster’s teams & a lack of self-service options.
Solution: With Apaleo’s integrated app partner, straiv, guest-related administrative processes are fully automated, self-service & accurate
While searching for a new property management platform, which could replace its legacy systems, Emanuele quickly understood the need for a platform offering extensive APIs & real-time connectivity, allowing the group to quickly integrate and test various 3rd party applications, including tools to create the perfect customer journey.
By implementing straiv, an application which covers pre/post-stay transactional emails, online check-in/out and front desk self-service registration via tablets, both properties were able to automate the entire process. This, not only allowed staff to focus on human interactions and more high-impact tasks but also enhanced the guest experience considering the rising demand for self-service options.
Result: More than 720 hours per month gained on administrative tasks from the guest booking to receiving the invoice
Streamlining these three steps meant reducing the time spent per guest by 15 minutes. “Those processes were totally manual before so this has saved us a tremendous amount of time, brought manual errors to zero and dramatically reduced the waiting time of our guests at the front desk,” shares Emanuele.
With an average of 3000 monthly guests across Hotel Illuster & Banana City, the group was able to save more than 720 hours per month for its various staff members involved.
Challenges: No self-service, slow response times & high hidden support costs
One of the key reasons for hotel operators to move away from legacy systems is the mediocre service levels and Emanuele and his team were not spared from that experience. “With our old providers, we would, not only wait a significant amount of time for answers but also be billed considerable support fees depending on the nature of our request”, says Emanuele. This would hinder the team's efficiency and agility, and impact the group’s bottom line as soon as something out of the ordinary would come up.
Even when some issues were related to the system settings, Emanuele could not amend them himself and would need to wait for the providers to adapt them in the background, which would again lead to long waiting times.
Solution: Structured customer success team, comprehensive help documentation and no maintenance or support fees
“The setup of the customer success team and the round-robin ticketing system provided by Apaleo is by far more advanced than our previous providers. Also, the knowledge and curiosity their team has about what our business makes all the difference,” says Emanuele. “We also notice that we never have to follow up on requests which has a great impact on our peace of mind and efficiency.”
Another point emphasised by Emanuele is the capacity for his staff to now change settings on its own, at no extra cost. As an example, email confirmation templates, now provided by Straiv, would previously require technical support from the PMS vendors, and take up to a couple of days without the team being able to influence the timeline. Now, the customer success agent and help documentation, would provide guidelines on how to proceed and enable Emanuele to execute in a self-service manner.
Result: 24h response time gained and €12’000 saved on support & maintenance fees yearly
Apaleo’s “No hidden fees” policy enabled the group to reduce its yearly PMS support and maintenance fees by €12’000 while reducing the ticket response time by one day.
The group can now act much quicker to changes needed in operations and reallocate these budgets to subscribe to more value-adding tools or services.
Challenges: Cryptic systems with outdated UIs make it difficult to quickly train staff while offering them a good digital experience
Emanuele also observed that the previous systems were a significant obstacle in rapidly making new employees successful and confident. “For new staff members getting started, it can be frustrating to struggle with the system and lead to demotivation.”
With the rising crisis around staff shortage and people demanding more fulfilling jobs with fewer mundane tasks, the need for an intuitive and modern user interface becomes even more crucial.
Solution: Reduced manual inputs and simplified user flows, make it easy to onboard new staff
“Apaleo is designed in a way that the new generation finds itself very easily”, shares Emanuele. Alongside, its modern design, the fact that the platform also automates many processes, which previously required extensive knowledge to complete, is a game-changer for the business. Staff members spend less time behind screens and reading support manuals, enabling them to focus on guests.
Result: 1,5 months reduced training time & happier staff
The implementation of Apaleo and the new tech stack has had a massive impact on the successful onboarding of new staff for the group. “We recently had two new employees starting at our Uster property who were fully proficient and ready to go in 2 weeks, when in the past, they would still struggle after 2 months”, notes Emanuele. “It’s also made a big difference in the new staff’s happiness level as they quickly feel independent in their work rather than a weight for their colleagues.”
Browse apps in the Apaleo Store:
Simple Booking - Booking engine
A dive into Hotel Illuster's tech stack
Browse apps in the Apaleo Store:
With the agility unlocked by the two hotels with the implementation of Apaleo, the group will look at consolidating its processes. Soon, the group will be looking into further expanding its digital customer journey with mobile keys to offer guests an even more seemless experience.
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