Hotel Concierge Software: Modules and Integrations
“Concierges are the original search engines.”
Les Clefs d’Or, USA (Elite concierge association)
Long gone are the days when concierges were responsible for lighting up candles and keeping a set of keys from every door in the castle. Today, a hotel concierge is the person whose job is to assist the guest with any request or problem — be it arranging a manicure, urgent suit dry cleaning, or a pet walk.
In the modern digital world with growing emphasis on social distancing, guests are looking for a fast, personalized, and contactless experience — and that’s what a virtual concierge can offer. According to the 2020 Lodging Technology Study, 72 percent of travelers are likely to return to a property that offers the technology they want (and customer retention is what YOU, the hotelier, want, isn’t it?). So, let’s explore the opportunities to improve customer satisfaction and other benefits concierge software can bring to your hotel.
What is a virtual concierge?
A virtual concierge (also known as digital concierge, or e-concierge) is the technology that provides guests with information and assistance at their requests. Its usage is typically related to the hospitality industry, though it can be implemented in other sectors, such as retail stores, banks, hospitals, casinos, etc.
Even though the virtual concierge can’t accompany your guests for a run like Westin Hotel concierges do, it can still be useful in a variety of ways. For example, it can
- replace your printed guidebook by promoting your property’s onsite amenities, as well as providing recommendations on attractions, restaurants, or other businesses in the area;
- allow guests to manage their stay;
- enable communication between guest and staff;
- accept reservations and payments;
- display local weather or news;
- provide wayfinding assistance, and so on.
It’s important to note that no matter if you have a live concierge at your property or not, a digital concierge can still be a valuable asset. Such software can either replace a real person or support and facilitate the work of a lobby professional to offer exceptional service.
Besides enhancing guest experience, concierge software allows your team to easily track and manage all guests requests, share knowledge between shifts, and create a database with guest information for further analysis and greater personalization. Let’s look closer at the features that make the magic happen.
Key features of hotel concierge software
A virtual concierge is a two-side assistant. It should be convenient for both internal users (your front desk team, housekeeping, maintenance, etc.) and external, i.e., your guests.
So, if you’re thinking about implementing hotel concierge software to support your staff and provide your guests with a superb experience throughout their stay at your property, here is the functionality you should be looking for.
Key features of hotel concierge software
The first and most important thing is to provide your guests with a communication channel to contact your staff or place their requests. Some virtual concierges come as apps with the in-built messenger, while others offer a choice of channels and allow your guests to decide their preferred way of communicating (WhatsApp, FB messenger, WeChat, SMS, your hotel’s app, etc.).
In addition to the opportunity to talk to the actual staff member, a good practice is implementing a chatbot that can assist with typical requests (room service, wake-up call, etc.).
Automated room item request feature by Vouch
Mobile check-in and stay management
Self-service opportunities are highly appreciated by most travelers. Research shows that 80 percent of hotel guests would be willing to download an app that would allow them to check in, check out, and obtain information about the hotel. And in-app smart home features like controlling temperature or switching between TV channels would add even more convenience.
Besides allowing your guests to check in, upgrade their room, and extend their stay through the virtual concierge, it’s also a great way to promote your amenities and drive ancillary revenue. Including detailed descriptions and attractive visuals of your services, events, and promotions would encourage guests to explore what you have to offer. And an intuitive interface should allow them to easily reserve a table at your restaurant or book an appointment at your spa or time on your tennis court.
Also, if you manage a large property, consider implementing navigation within the premises (both indoor and outdoor). It can be accomplished with the help of GPS and Beacon technology.
The MediaConcepts mobile concierge
Displaying local information
Local knowledge matters. Traditionally, hotel concierges are the ones who know everything about the area, i.e., how to avoid heavy traffic, where to get medical help, what to buy as a souvenir, and much more. Well, make sure your digital concierge is no worse and can substitute as a personal tour guide, answering any questions travelers might have. Questions might concern
- general information about the area (history, culture, popular destinations, etc.),
- local weather and news,
- scheduled events and attractions nearby (including prices and discounts),
- parking locations,
- delivery services,
- transportation options (car rentals, ridesharing, taxi rates, public transportation, etc.),
- nearest/cheapest/best businesses of many types, as well as their working hours, discounts, and reviews (e.g., ATM, currency exchange, pharmacy, hairdresser, supermarket, coffee shop, beer pub, etc.),
- the best/fastest/cheapest way to get to any destination, including directions on how to arrive at the hotel, and so on.
Displaying most of this information would require establishing integrations with third-party systems to get relevant, real-time data. We’ll talk more about that in the next section.
Making reservations and payment options
Connecting to restaurants and entertainment providers is not enough for a seamless guest experience. Providing convenient and secure in-app payment options is what your guests would appreciate. You’re probably working with a payment services provider, so integrating it with your virtual concierge will allow your guests to pay for their stay, order additional hotel services, or make external reservations.
Multi-language and multi-currency support
Most likely you deal not only with local visitors but also with international travelers. When people can communicate or see information in their own language or shop around with price tags in their currency, it definitely increases their satisfaction. Make sure your virtual concierge offers 2-way instant translation of both communication channels and information pages. Read more about localization nuances in our dedicated post.
This internal feature is crucial for efficient handling of guests requests. The concierge software has to notify the associated staff member or department that the request was placed and assign the task to the corresponding employee. Consider equipping your staff with connected mobile devices to immediately alert them when assistance is required.
Maintenance request in the Monscierge platform
Also, having all requests in one system allows managers to easily track their status, coordinate completion, and share information among shifts.
Vendor database and customer profiles
To effectively fulfill guest requests, you have to maintain a diverse database of reliable partners and suppliers. Keeping such information in one system makes it easy to quickly retrieve the necessary details when needed.
Collecting valuable information about your guests and creating a customer database can be the basis for offering a more personalized service and support marketing activities in general. For example, if your guest complains about your down pillows that he’s allergic to, you can offer him a massage or room upgrade and be prepared to address this issue during his next stay.
Reporting and analytics
Reporting is another essential feature that would allow you to monitor important operation metrics and evaluate how your staff and amenities are performing. Moreover, you can get insights into what your customers request and when, discover trends in their booking behavior, and make informed decisions on how you can improve your service.
Reporting interface of the Alice concierge tool
Lost and found
Arriving guests are often tired, stressed, and jetlagged, so no wonder they can forget half of their luggage in the lobby. Having a lost and found section with photos and instructions on how to retrieve lost items can become a real time saver.
Other features to consider include tracking of incoming and outgoing packages, making customized notifications and confirmations, creating expense reports for guests, generating a hotel digital service card, building travel itineraries, and more.
For more ideas on how to make your hotel smarter and more digitized, check our dedicated article.
Virtual concierge integrations
Most likely you already have a property management system, front desk software, CRM, or other hotel technology in use. Establishing integration of your virtual concierge with both internal and external systems is a must to enable a seamless data exchange and ensure efficiency.
So, let’s discuss which, how it’s done, and what data they have to exchange. Also note that it’s up to you to choose which integrations you need to build as the following list is only provisional and can be altered according to your business needs.
Virtual concierge integrations
Property Management System
A property management system (PMS) is the main tool that helps handle all hotel operations. Check our short video if you want to know the role it plays in hotel management.
Hotel PMS overview
You might have a comprehensive all-in-one solution or utilize separate modules, i.e., central reservation software (CRS), front desk platform, CRM and/or marketing tool, channel manager, etc. One way or another, establishing seamless integration with the following modules is essential.
- CRS and channel manager — to get information about room availability, make new reservations, or update existing ones. The CRS stores all the booking information and the channel manager updates availability levels across different sales channels to prevent overbooking.
- CRM and marketing tools — to exchange all the guest information, track your interactions, and analyze customer data to support marketing and enable further development.
- Front desk and door locking software — to send in personal guest information, enable self-check-in, and generate a digital key. Usually, the front-office module is also responsible for monitoring housekeeping operations, so whenever the guest paces a request for room service or maintenance, the front desk staff has to be informed.
- Housekeeping/maintenance management module — to send in guest requests and assign/schedule tasks.
- Content management system — to provide guests with full, interactive information about the property amenities and services.
Most off-the shelf solutions offer out-of-the-box integrations with major PMS providers such as Opera PMS, Clock PMS, and others. If that’s not your case, you’ll have to either connect yourself via open APIs or find an industry-specific API aggregator such as Hapi to assist you with building multiple integrations through a single API. (Consider checking out our explanatory video about what APIs are if you’re not familiar with the concept.)
How APIs work
Point of sale (POS) system
A POS system collects orders from multiple points of sale within your property and consolidates them in a single room bill. When a guest requests meal delivery or books a spa session through a digital concierg, this information has to be shared with the POS system to accurately generate a folio.
The POS system can be a part of the PMS or a separate piece of software. In the first case, once you integrate the virtual concierge with your PMS, you’re all set. In the second case, you’ll have to check if your software providers offer preestablished connectivity and if not, request API information to integrate yourself.
As we said, providing guests with payment options (like credit card, digital wallet, or Apple Pay) without the necessity of leaving the app would definitely make them happy (and encourage them to spend money.)
You might already have a payment gateway within your PMS, front desk, booking engine, or POS system. In any case, most payment processors provide open API information and well-documented integration guides, so all you have to do is connect and securely share those transaction details between your virtual concierge, payment gateway, and PMS.
Restaurants and attractions. Fortunately, today there’s no need to connect to multiple restaurants to offer your guests a decent choice of dining options (even though it’s still possible.) Consider partnering with an aggregator such as OpenTable (you’ll have to apply for their affiliate program first) or Yelp Reservations (check their variety of API offerings) to enable making reservations in a multitude of places. For more details about online restaurant reservations, please consult our dedicated post.
As for attractions, you can become an affiliate of the popular local entertainment providers and earn additional revenue by promoting their services, or you can partner with one of the big tour/entertainment services aggregators such as Viator (here’s a link to their affiliate program), use their widgets, banners, or affiliate links, and also earn commissions .
Transportation providers. Booking transportation is one of the most common traveler requests to a concierge. To facilitate this process, you can consider partnering with Uber that has free, open APIs to put that ride request button on the interactive map in your digital concierge.
Get a ride button with Uber
Review websites. People trust reviews and are often looking for recommendations on where to stay or eat. To integrate that kind of content with your virtual concierge, you’ll have to use the API information of the websites you choose (for example, Tripadvisor or Yelp).
Messaging platforms. We’ve already mentioned that a good digital concierge will offer hotel guests a choice of communication channels. So, you can create business accounts on the major communication platforms and use their APIs to integrate with your digital concierge and enable messaging. Or you can also partner with an API aggregator like Twilio to connect to multiple platforms at once.
How to choose a virtual concierge
There are a variety of ready-made solutions on the market so at first it seems that getting one of them is the easiest and best way to go. According to HotelTechReport and g2, the top-rated virtual concierge providers are
Another option is developing a custom solution from scratch that would be tailored to your business requirements and designed to efficiently support your operations.
Whatever way you choose, here are some important points to consider before implementing a hotel concierge software (besides the actual functionality.)
Integrations. We can’t stress enough the importance of establishing a seamless connection between systems and ensuring smooth data exchange. For that you’ll have to assess your current IT landscape and decide which external platforms you need to connect to. In case you acquire a finished solution, look for a provider with well-built open APIs. Also, be sure to check their list of out-of-the-box integrations and what it takes to build the ones that you need.
Pricing. Pricing is one of the main factors that impact the final decision on what to choose. You’ll have to compare the costs of custom development and shop around to ascertain the rates of different providers. Concierge software vendors usually charge per room or per residence. Pricing may also depend on the number of employees to train. However, be aware of additional charges such as
- implementation and training,
- customer support,
- third-party messaging provider,
- building custom integrations, etc.
Security. Hotels are dealing with a lot of personal and sensitive data, so make sure it’s protected and you comply with GDPR and PCI regulations.
App type. You’ll have to decide whether you want to implement a downloadable app or a web app (PWA). Check our detailed article to know the pros and cons.
Intuitiveness. Remember that your concierge software is made for different users and many of those users are far from being tech savvy. Make sure that your staff won’t need a PhD and years of training to master the new system.
To wrap up, we’d like to mention a few tips on the software implementation process.
Choose a project leader. Every business is different and has different problems and requirements, all of which demand a customized approach. So, even if you choose to partner with one of the hotel concierge software providers, it will still require significant technical effort and expertise to finetune it to your specific needs. Designate a knowledgeable person from your team who will collect all the necessary information to set the vision of the product that will meet your demands. This project leader will then be responsible for choosing the solution, communicating your requirements to the vendor, and controlling the implementation process.
Train your staff. We’ve already mentioned that training your employees to use the new system is a crucial part of the deployment as your workers must know all the software capabilities and be able to easily interact with it. In addition, such training will also allow you to comprehensively test the product functionality before offering it to your guests. Most providers offer onsite training (with additional charges), while some can instruct your team remotely.
Measure success. After you implement your concierge software, you can monitor success through such metrics as TRevPAR, customer satisfaction score, and your team’s response times to the guests’ requests. If these indicators are improving, you can further develop your solution, enrich its functionality, add more integrations — and reap the benefits.