The digital age has ushered in a host of technological advancements, which the hotel industry is all too eager to adopt. Therein lies the real danger, especially when it comes to proper customization prior to implementation. As hoteliers work tirelessly to offer guests new ways to meet their demands, while increasing revenue and cutting costs, finding the right fit can oftentimes prove to be the biggest challenge.
In an attempt to navigate that seemingly tricky path, we spoke with two members of Swiss gastronomy and hotel management - SV Group - to learn more about their strategy and the set of challenges they faced while developing their user-centric solutions. The brand, in its continued quest for excellence, joined forces with German-based company apaleo offering cloud-based agile platforms specifically designed to serve various types of hospitality accommodation spaces.
Case-in-point, the digital hospitality platform developed and now used to seamlessly run Stay KooooK offering a guest journey unlike any other. Employing apaleo’s open APIs has allowed the operators to provide its guests with a complete digital journey through fully-automated processes and services, as well as a uniquely-intuitive customer servicing solutions platform for its employees. These solutions, orchestrated by an open API-based platform, SV Group provides as a white-label service to other hotels.
This platform bridges the gap between serviced apartments and hotel rooms and focuses on the needs of modern travelers. At Stay KooooK, guests are fully in control of their stay and therefore decide what they want and when they want it, using nothing other than their mobile phone to gain total and complete access to all provided services.
Commenting on the key challenges Stay KooooK faced, the digital platform product owner Kevin Cocco explained, “We had a lot of requirements and a good idea of the ideal customer journey. The challenge for us was in figuring out how we could deliver that with the right platform and services. The solutions needed to be smart, digital, and reduced strictly to only what is necessary from a guest perspective, which is where apaleo came in.”
From smart hotel rooms to digital key cards, numerous smart solutions are available to simplify processes by making hotel operations more efficient and enjoyable for both guests and hoteliers. Elaborating further on what was achieved on the quest to deliver an end-to-end digital guest journey through fully- automated processes, IT Business Architect of SV Group, Birk Isslinger said, “At Stay KooooK, we only have one staff member - our host - on site. This person acts as a true host to our guests and does not spend any time with redundant check-in, check-out, and administration processes.’’ As a result, the Stay KooooK concept now allows guests to skip lengthy processes like check-in. This in turn created a new set of challenges in a space with no room for error. “If a guest misses part of the check-in process online, there will not be a staff member playing the traditional role of a receptionist waiting in the middle of the night for the guests’ arrival to check them in. The guests should be able to simply arrive at any time they like and walk directly to their room,’’ Birk explained.
To ensure a flawless experience, the team came to learn that a wide range of additional apps needed to be connected to the apaleo software to achieve that goal. ‘‘From this approach, we used apaleo to connect some key third-party apps, which the company provides in the store. However, we soon realized that we were unable to steer some of the key processes required in order to enable a seamless guest journey. That was when we developed our own platform that triggers and orchestrates the entire processes between the guest front-end as well as all the other applications,’’ said Kevin. SV Group went the extra mile and also provided their employees (on site as well as remote) with a compelling and intuitive customer service solution. This solution allows employees to identify proactive touchpoints throughout the customer journey, which could later become problematic. The new system also ensures that employees can easily communicate with their guests, as well as have a holistic overview of their guests’ servicing history. Furthermore, this one-stop-shop for employees is built in such an intuitive way, that within two days, employees are able to fully manage the entire system.
Though the process of arriving at a fully-operational system was lengthy, the flexibility apaleo offers, enabled the SV Group to quickly test out different apps and adjust their needs based on the features offered by each app. ‘’From this experience, we were able to clearly define our needs and make up for missing features by building our own solutions. Furthermore, we developed a custom tech stack in parallel with our own solutions, which we plan to use throughout some of our other properties,’’ Birk clarified. Mundane processes throughout SV Group’s operations are now automated and simplified for employees and guests. The solution works off data-based predictions to provide more personalization throughout all communication, ensuring that the content delivered is always guest-centric. Stay KooooK’s technology, also referred to as ‘Person Record Matching’, makes it possible to recognize recurring profiles so that guests are provided with a holistic, personalized, and straightforward digital journey that is seamless, contactless, and evermore personal. Now, employees can fully dedicate themselves to being great hosts, rather than gatekeepers of mundane processes at unnecessary touchpoints.
In terms of numbers, the system cuts guests’ time spent from check-in to check-out by 70%. Furthermore, the process also allows significant staff cost savings, while increasing efficiency. In addition, personalized, data-driven communications and content throughout the customer journey is provided using the guests’ preferred language thereby avoiding any kind of confusion or miscommunication. Best of all, by increasing customer satisfaction, the retention rate can be increased and sustainable customer relationships can be created.
The Stay KooooK system has already been recognized at the Serviced Apartments Awards in London as the winner in the category for Best Use of Technology. It also won the Swiss Hotel Innovation Award as well as the DACH CXA – Customer Experience award. Jonathan Humphries, Co-founder of HoCoSo, a consultancy focused on creating solutions for the future of hospitality, benchmarked Stay KooooK’s digital solution with experts and compared those to other available platforms. “In our view, Stay KooooK has created, with apaleo, a future-focused solution, which is dynamic, organic, and can adapt to the future needs and opportunities for customers, employees, and owners. We are delighted to be part of Stay KooooK since its conception through to expansion; Stay KooooK’s digital platform is a much-needed breakthrough, which will benefit the entire hospitality industry.” Markus Feller, Head Innovation & Transformation SV Group / Lead Digital Hospitality Platform concludes, “This is just the beginning of an amazing journey. There is a huge demand for comprehensive solutions that provide best-in-class digital guest experiences, lean processes, as well as intuitive support for employees to help their guests in a proactive way on their digital journey. On top of this, the hotel operator needs data to steer the business in an efficient way and our digital hospitality platform provides all this: ONE solution by ONE company for ONE price per room per month.” In January 2022 the first white-label customer goes live, with others soon to follow, so stay tuned for more exciting news…
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