The personal touches at your hotel are what makes a stay special. But we know how easy it is to let things slip when you’re busy and understaffed. That’s why we teamed up with the Irish Hospitality Institute (IHI) to discuss how to streamline hotel operations whilst keeping things personal.
IHI President Brian Bowler chaired a discussion with Tony Walker, General Manager of Slieve Russell Hotel, and Olivia Cannon, Head of Marketing at the Castle Leslie Estate, with Vamoos Founder Alisdair Luxmoore also invited to join the panel. Read on below to discover the key takeaways from the event.
Staff Shortages Don’t Have to Impact Customer Service or Efficiency
Pent-up demand from Covid, combined with declining staff numbers, brought fresh concerns to Castle Leslie about remaining staff’s capacity to provide the top-quality service they’ve become known for. Vamoos freed up staff from daily operational tasks, allowing them to focus on engaging with guests on a more personal level, right from the very first point of human interaction. As Alisdair says, Vamoos makes it possible to ditch those small, repetitive, irksome tasks like giving out WiFi codes and breakfast times, which take up so much staff time but add little quality value to customers.
Alisdair’s own Morocco hotel had first hand experience of this, finding it becoming increasingly laborious re-printing the room directories every time a new restaurant opened down the road. Pre-Vamoos, they also noticed an uptick in visitors wanting to connect digitally with staff for queries and requests, prompting the manager to start giving out his personal WhatsApp details. This was understandable, given the shift towards instant communication over the last decade, but also had potential to benefit the hotel itself – it takes 5x longer to answer the phone than to respond to messages, saving more valuable time.
Increased Revenue – Decreased Costs = Greater Profit
Vamoos can help to maximise the revenue from a single guest both throughout and after their trip, as Olivia found. They enter the dates of stay for each guest into the Vamoos portal, which allows them to send out tailored notifications to current guests. These notifications could advertise a restaurant special or cocktail of the day, and can be used to give guests first refusal for coveted spots at the restaurant or spa whenever there are cancellations.
On the flipside, costs are reduced too. As above, fewer operational tasks require fewer staff, but it’s not just about employees – one of Alisdair’s clients reported making back the cost of Vamoos in just two weeks by eliminating the cost of printing.
Easy & Intuitive to Set Up
All panellists agreed on the ease and speed with which Vamoos can be set up. It took Tony’s team just a few days to gather all the information they needed and put it up on the app, to great success. Their download rate has been high, and Tony pointed to the 15 downloads they’d had the day before just from current guests – a record helped by putting QR codes with a link to download on their bedroom mirrors. With just one colleague responsible for updating the app via the portal, it’s a pretty great return on investment.
And as Alisdair mentions, there’s really no need to put everything on the app from day 1 – hotels with more information to gather still stand to benefit from providing some of Vamoos’ features to guests.
The need for easy tech is summed up nicely by Olivia: “We’re hoteliers, not tech people”.
A One Stop Shop to Build Excitement Throughout
And finally of course, the panellists raved about all the things we hear time and time again. The ability to put every aspect of guest information onto the app, from the service directory and local attractions to swim slots and restaurant reservations, is a highlight for Tony.
This was echoed by Olivia, who nodded to the app’s ability to operate offline – a huge plus given the shaky WiFi on the Castle Leslie estate. Their guests can start planning their walks, archery and fishing in the car on the way there, and then access all that information when they arrive.
After all, if there’s one thing that the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, it’s that anticipation for future moments – whether it’s a big family holiday or a special weekend away – really can pull us through. As Olivia says “anything we’re booking … we’re looking forward to now more than ever”.
Upselling. It’s a slightly misunderstood word. It implies a bit of trickery. Like you’re somehow hoodwinking a guest into going with the more expensive option when the cheaper one would do just fine. But it doesn’t need to be like that.
Followers of Vamoos will know the app was originally intended for use whilst on holiday. But when initial research showed 66% of Vamoos usage to be in the post-booking, pre-travel stage, it revealed a powerful insight: excitement and anticipation is as important a stage of the holiday to clients as the trip itself.