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Investing in mobile applications and a chat bot has freed up staff to do what they love most

A few years ago Edwardian Hotels took the decision to invest in technology that would free staff up to be out and about serving guests, rather than being stuck behind a desk.

The result was an investment in mobile applications that pushes relevant information to employees at the right time so they can meet guests’ needs. “Everything is available in 22 apps,” Michael Mrini, Edwardian Hotels’ director of technology recently told an EyeforTravel audience in Europe.

Hotel management, he added, has real time revenue data pulled from Opera Cloud, an enterprise platform for hotel distribution from Oracle. This means that everybody from the chairman of the company to the waiter in the restaurant can see what revenues are being made. There is a mobile application for everything from the staff rota to employee surveys and maintenance. “We no longer have guests arriving to check in and there aren’t rooms ready,” Mrini said.

Self-service tools have been a big hit too. Mrini has always been impressed with airline check in tools and by applying something similar, 33% of Edwardian guests now check in online. In addition, they are able to select their room, pay online and simply pick up the key from the concierge. This, said Mrini, “did wonders for our profile accuracy”.  

Online check in has done ‘wonders for our profile accuracy’ 

The big story from Edwardian hotels is the success it has had with its virtual host – Edward. Mrini said Edward has really helped the team learn so much about the guest. Among the most common questions are ‘Is my room ready?’ and ‘Is breakfast included?’

So successful has Edward been, that few guests have recognised that it’s a system. Guests have left tips for Edward at the front desk and have reviewed him on TripAdvisor!

On the issue of whether chat bots will lead to lost jobs, Mrini said not. “It’s not taking a human place but assisting the humans. Edward is helping staff, allowing them to spend more time doing what they enjoy doing, interacting face to face.”

So what is the secret of Edward’s success? Mrini said it’s down to the fact that it was developed by an hotelier who has been doing the job for years, rather by a programmer who has never worked in a hotel.

Which just goes to show, there is a case for doing tech in-house, and hiring people with the right skills set!

Watch the video or, if you prefer the printed word, see p.18 of the post conference report for the Edwardian Hotels chatbot case study

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