Customer success story – Ibis Tallinn Center

Madis Laid – General Manager

“GuestJoy has enabled us to personalise our service, increase ancillary revenue and save tremendous amounts of time in one go.”

About Ibis Tallinn Center

The modern Ibis Tallinn Centre offers 190 rooms conveniently close to Tallinn’s business, cultural, entertainment and shopping districts. From here, guests can take a short walk to the world-famous UNESCO-listed old town known for its medieval churches, museums and art galleries. Retail centres, business hubs and the old harbour are also close by, making it the ideal hotel for both work and leisure travel.

We recently sat down for a chat with Madis Laid who has led the property as General Manager since late 2018. He revealed how the team at ibis Tallinn Center has been using GuestJoy to scale digital guest communication, reduce the staff’s workload, improve the guest experience and skyrocket incremental revenue. 

Digital communication throughout the entire guest journey

In the past, the only chance we had to interact with most guests was during arrival or while they were in-house. We weren’t able to reach out to everyone individually pre- or post-stay because we didn’t have the resources for that. 

GuestJoy allows us to fully automate our guest communication at every stage of the guest journey.

Now we can connect with all travellers and build a relationship before they set foot in the door.

While they’re in-house, we can check how they’re doing and offer extra services. After check-out, we stay in touch and plant the idea of a future stay with us. The best thing is that this works with both direct bookers and OTA guests. 

Targeted information for a personalised stay experience

Sharing relevant information with our guests has become much easier with GuestJoy. Our pre-arrival messages include all the information they need to plan their stay. This automated digital approach was especially useful during the pandemic when we needed to share detailed information about health and safety guidelines with all travellers.

On top of that, we share offers for add-on services that can make their trip more memorable. The platform’s segmentation tool helps us personalise these offers and ensure guests only receive relevant suggestions. This works much better than the posters and flyers we used to rely on, and it saves vast amounts of paper. 

Increased efficiency every step of the way

GuestJoy saves us a lot of time in day-to-day operations. It integrates seamlessly with our PMS, so we can offer guests the chance to fill out their registration cards and check in online. When they arrive, they only need to pick up their key.

That has taken our average check-in time down from six to two minutes per guest.

Considering how many travellers we welcome every day, that’s a massive time saver. It also frees up our staff to engage more with guests who need assistance or simply prefer to check-in at the front desk. 

Sharing hotel information and promotions with guests pre-arrival has made a big difference, too. Now, travellers browse our messages while they’re on their way here. When they check-in, they already have all the information they need. This means the reception gets fewer calls about opening hours, restaurant reservations, etc. Guests can even book their early check-in or Champagne in the room via GuestJoy. All this increases the convenience for travellers and reduces the workload for our team. 

Thanks to GuestJoy our capture rate at the restaurant has increased by at least 10% and our ancillary revenue from service add-ons is up by 600%

Our capture rate at the restaurant has increased by at least 10% since we implemented GuestJoy. Of course, this also means extra revenue in our F&B department. Ancillary revenue from options like wine or chocolate in the room, early check-in or late departure is up 600%. It’s just so quick and easy for guests to book these extras via the system.

This would not be possible without GuestJoy. Our front desk team simply wouldn’t be able to offer these add-ons to so many travellers in person. These results also mean that GuestJoy has a great ROI and more than pays for itself with the extra revenue it generates. 

A remarkable increase in online reviews and ranking

Apart from informing guests about our services or special offers, we also use GuestJoy to communicate with guests after their stay. The platform automatically sends a message asking guests to share their feedback and leave public reviews. GuestJoy’s direct connection to TripAdvisor makes this extremely easy for travellers. As a result, we receive 20% more reviews than in the past. Combined with the more personalised service we provide now, this has taken us from 27th to 8th place on TripAdvisor among hotels in Tallinn

Quick set-up and easy maintenance

Everything about GuestJoy is efficient. The set-up was smooth and only took us about half a day. It was a simple process, and we were able to quickly customise our guest messages and set segmentation rules. Taking advantage of the many pre-built packages and offers the system comes with also sped things up. 

Managing GuestJoy is easy, too, even with a small team. The front office staff usually spends a few minutes a day checking new arrivals. Once a week they take around thirty minutes to update messages with new offers and I check the latest reports. Other than that, everything runs in the background. 

Their team’s attitude towards customer service proves that we’ve chosen the right partner

Customer support is another one of GuestJoy’s strong suits. Whenever we have a question or an issue, they’re quick to respond and provide a solution. But it goes beyond that. There were some features we couldn’t fully take advantage of at our property. In those cases, we shared suggestions for updates that would work better for our hotel. GuestJoy’s team was always keen to listen and find ways to implement our feedback. This attitude proves that we’ve chosen the right partner. It shows that they’re always working to further improve their product and service. 

A like-minded, innovative partner

In GuestJoy we found a partner who shares our desire to grow and move forward. Since we began working with them, they’ve added many new features that further improve their platform and expand its capabilities. I appreciate that because our guests and the industry itself are constantly evolving. You need like-minded partners who understand this if you want to be successful in this competitive environment. 

A word to fellow hoteliers

When considering a guest experience platform, I recommend looking at how you’re currently communicating with guests. Is it hard to connect with them and share relevant information? Are travellers spending more time looking for information than they are enjoying the hotel’s facilities? For most properties that’s the case. This means it’s high time to start working with a tool like GuestJoy – yesterday would be best. 

What does a hotelier need in 2022? Proven, smooth technology. But how can you make the best choice? And what do you need to factor in when implementing new hotel technology? Will the personal touch forever disappear, or will hospitality continue being a face-to-face service?


Our Dutch friend and partner – Hendrik Jan Jenner – has tried many, and he is here to answer your questions!

Annika: Regarding the benefits of upgrading your technology; what is your opinion on technology in hospitality? Should a hotelier keep up to date?

Hendrik Jan: In my opinion, all hotels should do a monthly or bi-monthly check whether they are using software that actually helps them. Compare prices, check features; there are many great websites like Hotelminder, Hotelhero, Revfine and Hoteltechreport to help. 





When you implement new technology, the tech will work for you so you save time. But you still need to make sure other aspects are taken care of and done well. 

A good example; we always wanted to know whether our guests are business travellers or leisure, and what they are most interested in. So we added this into our tech solution. With GuestJoy I can always ask the purpose of the stay, and the guests can fill it out in their own time; no need to bother them personally!

Annika: Guest needs – let’s talk about it! What do you think guests need in 2022, and beyond? How can technology help?

Hendrik Jan: Package deals are always a win. It’s an easy and full option for the guest to pick, a very convenient choice. 

Today’s guests want to be able to pick, mix & match whatever they like from the hotel’s options. You have all these deals and options available, but what if your guest doesn’t like museums? Or do they prefer sports? They do not want to see offers that are not interesting for them. That’s clutter on their screen. It’s crucial that you provide what your guest likes, and content that is customised for them. 

Annika: GuestJoy’s segmentation can come in very handy here. We are able to show ‘romantic’ offers for travelling couples, kids offers for families, and much more. 

Exactly, I love the fact that in GuestJoy I can add segments and make sure that every guest gets an offer that is tailored to their needs. Here I think that technology can predict even better guest needs. You know straight the demographics,  length of stay, room type and etc that is a great indicator for sending out the right offer. This way guests feel more engaged.



Annika: How do you engage with guests in general?

Hendrik Jan: We were using an upselling solution but we felt that it was not enough. You need to do so much more than upselling to guests. Therefore we started looking for a solution that could help us with the entire digital guest experience. We were very happy to find GuestJoy.  

GuestJoy guest experience does the online check-in upselling and reputation management. That is a huge advantage.

Annika: Do you see that the PMS should be flexible? 

Mews and GuestJoy exchanging all the information automatically save me a bunch of time. I appreciate how both softwares have multiple functionalities. 

The moment I heard that guests can enter credit card details into GuestJoy I was sold. Guests can now fully check-in, on their own time without any of us working at the front desk. 

Annika: And when you choose tech, do you base it on local opinions or general reviews? What’re your criterias?

Hendrik Jan: I need to be able to trust the product. The brand, the promises they make.

Obviously, investment and return is key, but it’s not often available immediately. It’s always nice when the hotel tech company has some data, possibly from another hotel. I’d like to see how a tool is used and what it brings to other properties.


About Hendrik

Hendrik Jan Jenner is the Revenue Manager of Luxury Suites Amsterdam and Black Label Hotels He started out working in a restaurant to finance his studies, but after an interest in leadership and performance analytics, he took up a role in restaurant management. 

Soon, the desire to master the art of hospitality was born in him and he was able to switch to a hotel position as Revenue Manager. His employer supported him to get a degree from the University of Cornell in Hospitality, and since then he has been working in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 

About Your Apartment

Your Apartment is one of Bristol’s freshest and most vibrant serviced apartment providers. Co-founded by Bristol-born brothers Charlie & Toby Guest in 2017, Your Apartment runs over 165 serviced apartments today. It offers guests a contactless hospitality experience that combines the service level of a hotel with the homely feeling of an apartment. In December 2020, Your Apartment launched its new aparthotel concept ‘Your Apartment – Clifton Village’ in Bristol and several other exciting projects are already in the pipeline. 

We recently had a chat with Daniel Robinson, who is in charge of everything marketing, digital and PR-related at Your Apartment in Bristol. He shared with us how the Your Apartment team is using GuestJoy to simplify their digital guest journey, save tremendous amounts of time for their staff, and generate more positive online reviews. 

Streamlined online check-in process

Our previous online check-in process was complex and tedious for our guests. We had one tool which sent out emails with a link for the online check-in. Another solution collected guest details, while a third system gathered payment information. Unsurprisingly, this led to many travellers contacting our customer service team for guidance. As our number of properties kept growing, so did the workload for support staff. 

“GuestJoy has made our online check-in process and guest communication much more straightforward. This saves us valuable time and creates a much smoother guest journey.”

Daniel Robinson – Marketing Manager at Your Apartment

This left us with two options. We could either recruit more people to deal with these issues and keep the outdated process our guests didn’t enjoy. Or, we could implement new software that would solve the problem on both ends. Obviously, the latter made more sense. So, I began actively looking for a new guest experience management solution and soon came across GuestJoy. 

GuestJoy handles everything for us now. It emails guests their booking confirmation which comes with the link to the online check-in form. This form self-populates with information from the reservation, so guests only need to add a few missing details manually (e.g., ID and payment details). GuestJoy automatically sends this data to our PMS and before they know it, guests are already checked in. The whole process is much easier and smoother for guests and our team now that GuestJoy brings everything together into one centralised platform.

More efficient operation and guest communication

Your Apartment tripled its footprint in a little over a year. Using our old system, we would have also had to triple our staffing in the guest services department to handle all the incoming requests. However, GuestJoy has made our online check-in process and guest communication much more straightforward and efficient. As a result, the number of daily calls and emails has dramatically reduced. 

Even though we’ve now recently grown to over 165 serviced apartments, we still only need four team members to handle all guest communication. This keeps our organisation lean and frees up valuable funds for other investments. 

Immediate responses to guest feedback bring better online reviews

Apart from using GuestJoy to streamline our online check-in process, we also use it to communicate with guests during and after their stay. We’ve set up the platform to automatically ask everyone staying two nights or more how their stay is going. If there’s a problem, we now have the opportunity to fix it while guests are still in-house. This has led to drastically improved reviews since travellers appreciate our quick response and our dedication to getting things right.

 After check-out, GuestJoy automatically messages travellers to request feedback. If someone tells us about a positive experience, we encourage them to share it on public review platforms like TripAdvisor or the OTA they booked with. Combined, these approaches have significantly boosted our number of online ratings. Since fully reopening after a lockdown in spring 2021, we’ve received over 40 new reviews on Google and around 15 on Booking.com. 

Finally, GuestJoy also makes it easy for me to manage our reviews. I can see which ones I’ve responded to and where I still need to follow up. This saves me valuable time and frees me up for other tasks. 

Personalising the stay experience

Once guests have booked, we give them the chance to personalise their stay with add-ons like early check-in, late check-out or a parking space. This plays an important role in creating the personalised stay experience that travellers expect today. 

In the past, these add-on requests led to a lot of back and forth via email which often felt tedious for our guests. Another issue was that we regularly got requests on the day of arrival, and were only able to handle them with some delay.

GuestJoy makes all this much more straightforward. It´s a lot quicker and more satisfying for our guests to know it´s all taken care of before their arrival.

GuestJoy makes all this much more straightforward. The platform allows us to show guests which options exist for their property. They can easily request what they need, and our team is notified immediately. Then we add the extras to their booking and send a confirmation message. It’s a lot quicker and more satisfying for our guests to know it’s all taken care of before their arrival. And when they check-in, they find everything ready, just how they want it. 

Increased direct bookings

All guests can request a variety of add-ons via GuestJoy as soon as their booking is confirmed. We were able to set up the platform so direct bookers can add certain services for free, e.g., free parking and complimentary snacks on arrival. OTA guests, on the other hand, see a price attached to each add-on. 

This has made it easier to drive more reservations from our website because the advantages of booking directly are clear to travellers. Also, there isn’t any confusion about who has to pay for what since GuestJoy takes care of that for us. 

Customised set-up of GuestJoy for Your Apartment

We currently have over 165 apartments, some of which are in our apart-hotels while others are standalone properties. Since each one is unique, we had to take a few extra steps during our GuestJoy set-up to ensure we provided equal options and service levels for all units. 

The customer service team was extremely helpful here. They customised the set-up to match our business needs, so we didn’t have to make compromises in any area. It took some extra time, but I’m very glad we went through this process thoroughly because now it’s paying off for us in a big way. 

They customised the set-up to match our business needs, so we didn’t have to make compromises in any area.

A tool that aligns with Your Apartment’s future plans

When we picked GuestJoy as our guest experience solution, we wanted something that would both work for our current needs and support our expanding business. GuestJoy and their team’s attitude towards ongoing development perfectly fit this bill. The product is already great, and they’re dedicated to further improving it by adding new features and making it even more user-friendly. 

The team at GuestJoy also understands the importance of a fully integrated tech stack that links all hotel systems. For example, the two-way integration with Mews, our PMS, is the key to making our online check-in and payment processing so easy for our guests. This saves everyone a tremendous amount of time and makes the guest journey much smoother. In the future, we’re hoping for even more such integrations, for example, one that automates the pre-arrival bookings for parking spots. 

Having used a few other guest experience platforms throughout my career, I think GuestJoy is by far the best one.”

A word to your peers

Having used a few other guest experience platforms throughout my career, I think GuestJoy is by far the best one. I’ve already recommended it to several fellow hoteliers and encourage everyone to test it because it’s very effective and so easy to use. A system like GuestJoy is the way forward, especially given how the pandemic has made contactless front office service so much more important for all types of accommodation businesses. 

Author:

Juliana Hahn
Technical Hospitality Writer

Hospitality has changed forever. Gone are the days of carefree travelers. The future is for safety-conscious guests who at least for now try to minimize any physical contact and enjoy their vacation or business trip. To provide a good service to this new breed of travelers means you also have to change. The key is digital transformation and it will help you solve two big problems many property managers are experiencing

Your current hotel experience is not what your guests expect

During the pandemic, e-commerce has risen by 19%. This means more and more people are accustomed to online ordering and self-service. This trend has moved to hospitality. Online offers convenience that is hard to rival. Most young people hate the fact that they must go to a front desk to clear an issue or call to order something. Guests just expect more.

Modern traveler

The self-service low-touch traveler trend was already here before the pandemic, now it merely accelerated. The modern guest does not like to go to your front desk to ask for help. They want to use their phone, to customize their experience. They want to let you know immediately if something is bad. They want to order services using their smartphones, not browse the directories next to the phone. If your property is not able to provide that, your guest satisfaction will be significantly lower.

Solution

The solution is digitalizing the guest journey to enable all these things. To allow the guest to reach out to you when THEY want, using a device they are most comfortable with, their phone.

We found that 84% of consumers are more inclined to do business with organizations that offer self-service options, but only 61% agree that organizations are providing easy, convenient self-service.

Forbes

It will improve your guest satisfaction. More and more studies show that guest satisfaction is higher when guests are engaged vs passive guests. Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ choice is a testament to that.

Finding good people is hard

This leads to our second problem. This is the biggest internal challenge most hoteliers face with. There are many articles about hoteliers being unable to find people (article, article) and this could have a massive impact on recovery. There are many reasons behind it. One is definitely low salaries. The hospitality industry is notorious for that. If a front-office worker earns 25% of the salary a manager does, where is the motivation?

How much each person earns in a hotel compared to management

The second issue is seasonality. The hotel business has always been seasonal. But at least it was predictable. But now with the pandemic, countries go into lock-down semi-randomly. Try to find people working in this environment. Let alone investing time into training them.

Solution

By digitalizing your guest experience, you reduce the reliance on the workforce significantly while maintaining the same service levels. Those hotels that embrace this, will outperform those, who are stuck in the old way of doing business.

Service industry automation is coming and will change a lot. It will impact the livelihood of some people. But that is the harsh reality. Fewer employees mean reduced cost and by automating some aspects of the customer service, your staff can focus on less menial tasks thus actually earning more tips.

Conclusion

The hospitality industry is changing. First were the OTAs, then came AirBnb and now the pandemic. Change is something you shouldn’t be afraid of. It creates opportunity. If your business model was struggling before, use this moment to adapt and do things differently. By embracing technology, you will stay ahead of the hotel across the street. I know it is tempting to go back to your old habits, but you will risk becoming obsolete.

The cooperation between Hotsoft PMS and GuestJoy takes digital guest communication to a completely new level. The world won´t be the same anymore and also hospitality needs to take a new course. Digital guest communication is becoming part of our daily life. Online check-in to fasten the check-in process or choosing suitable services before the actual arrival date will make life more comfortable for the guests but also takes away repetitive tasks from a receptionist. The result will be a better digital guest experience and not less important is the time-saving.

How does it work?

The two-way API interface between Hotsoft PMS and GuestJoy enables hoteliers to create digital guest experiences using a single product. Once the integration is set up, the data flow between Hotsoft and GuestJoy is seamless. Updates made in GuestJoy appear in the guest folio.

Key benefits this new two-way integration brings

  • Update check-in data in the PMS without manual entry
  • Update orders and add to guest folio
  • Upsell goes straight to invoicing
  • Real-time room availability check and automated room upgrades
  • More frequent updates (once an hour vs once a day with the old one)
  • More segmentation fields

About GuestJoy

Leading Guest experience platform. The preferred choice among modern hoteliers who want to digitalise their guest experience but avoid using multiple standalone systems. Designed to simplify the life of you and your guests. GuestJoy is trusted by hundreds of properties in 25 countries.

About Hotsoft

Hoist Group’s HotSoft PMS is an industry-leading Property Management System (PMS). It has proven its value for over 1,500 multi-property groups, small and large hotels, B&B’s, Spa’s, Resorts, and various other hospitality businesses.

It enables you to manage all your daily hotel operations easily. It gives you control of your booking process as well as your guest journey. It helps you implement an end-to-end Mobile Guest Journey including online reservation, mobile check-in and check-out as well as mobile room keys.

HotSoft PMS is a single, easy-to-use, seamless cloud-based PMS solution that comes with a wide choice of modules you can choose from.

I wanted to get talking with hoteliers after the past year’s challenges. Hospitality as an industry came together remarkably during the pandemic and a lot of us found creative ways to survive, help each other, and educate ourselves. How did hoteliers do it? What are the tactics they used to keep their businesses afloat? What helped them?
This is Paul’s story from Losehill House, UK.

Paul Roden, owner and manager of Losehill House Hotel since 2007. The property has been hosting guests for the past 90 years and has a great history dating back to Saxon times.
The hotel grows most of the food they use at their restaurant and produces local, organic beeswax soap.

Flora: Hi Paul, tell us about your background first!

Paul: We purchased Losehill House 14 years ago, before that I was a chartered accountant. I am very dedicated to the Leisure and Hospitality industry. What I love most about using various hotel tech is that cloud-based technology allows you to manage your business 24/7 which is wonderful for workaholics like me. 

Flora: We can imagine that this past year has been a challenge, what kind of changes were implemented at your property? How did your operations and work change?

Paul: The change started for us in 2019, when we embarked upon a complete upgrade of our Hotel systems. We moved to a cloud-based PMS with HotelTime as the first step. We then were able to select integrations with best in class third-party providers that allowed us to create an extensive and fully integrated solution to the hotel systems needs. That is how we stumbled upon GuestJoy. 

Technology should not be difficult

Technology can be very easy to implement, your team might not be on board with it in the first place, but quieter times are perfect to make these changes that will eventually pay off. Especially if you are switching to products that are more concise, that cover multiple functionalities and are cloud-based. After all modern guests require modern solutions!

We know that this past year was financially straining, so keep in mind:
💰 How much the products that you use cost?
⬇️ Can you try new solutions at your hotel that are cheaper?
🎁 How can you create deals for your guests?
⬆️ Can you upscale for those who can finally spend?

Losehill house backyard


Flora: So you have started using some new technologies. How did that work out?

Paul: The pandemic really accelerated the implementation of a whole new suite of software. Moving to cloud-based was just the first step. The role of Guestjoy in being able to communicate accurately and in a rapidly changing environment in terms of Covid 19 was invaluable. The pre-stay email and announcements, in addition to the post-stay feedback email, the engagement data really helped us assess the response of guests to our Covid safe strategy as well as other enjoyment factors.
I believe it is crucial from now on to have a guest communication tool that keeps everyone assured and feeling safe. It’s not just about any virus, but your deals, offers, and hotel policy too. The fact that GuestJoy does this so smoothly made my life so much easier.

Flora: What we have been seeing technology-wise is that online check-in and guest communication tools are extremely important. Reduced staff, guests wanting more distance than before, it can all be difficult to manage. Is there any technology that you think is a necessity for any property these days?

The beautiful Losehill House, UK

Paul: Technology has been critical in allowing the business to continue to operate whilst we are closed – online bookings – changes in reservations, refunds and moving to future dates have all been possible with the cloud-based remote operating.

Flora: Finally, what do you think, what are the trends for this summer? 

Paul: We are hopeful! I think there will be a large influx of bookings for this summer – staycations – or for later in 2021, as the UK is planning to re-open in May. The strong rates and occupancy are very encouraging. Guests are also looking to upgrade in terms of quality and experience – higher quality room, spa treatments etc because they weren’t able to travel in 2020 and in the first half of 2021. The motto for this summer is definitely “treat yourself”. 

Keep in mind the trends 2021 brought

There are a few things new travellers and new generations definitely don’t need anymore. The minibar and car rentals are a thing of the past; Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z are more about instagrammable cocktails with a nice view and ordering ridesharing services. But what else has changed?

Sustainability & Slow travel: People want memorable experiences, but most of us are aware of the impact we cause. Unique experiences that give back to local communities in meaningful ways are in demand, as are niche properties, adventurous holidays and relaxation retreats. This could be local goods, bike trips, or nature hikes with local restaurant outings, possibly in places where they serve organic food – that’s another key trend to watch.

Finally, stating the obvious, smooth, fast and easy guest experiences, processes that are automated and require minimal effort from the guest. Such as online check-in, ordering extras or communicating with the hotel via a chat bot or email. Would you like to learn how to implement any of these? Click on the button below.

Hoteliers around the world need to strike a fine balance. They’ve been forced to streamline their operations as much as possible to gain efficiencies, save time and reduce costs – all whilst to maintain high levels of guest satisfaction and increasing RevPAR. This is only possible by balancing offline with the online guest experience. The two-way API interface between Guestline PMS and GuestJoy helps hoteliers to deliver a modern guest experience by streamlining pre-arrival processes such as upselling and guest registration.

Read more about it here 

How does it work?

The two-way API interface between Guestline PMS and GuestJoy enables hoteliers to create digital guest experiences using a single product. Once the integration is set up, the data flow between Guestline and GuestJoy is seamless. Updates made in GuestJoy appear in the guest folio.

  • When a guest completes GuestJoy’s check-in form and submits it, the information is updated in both GuesJoy and Guestline via the 2-way integration.
  • The reservation data received from Guestline is used to create segments, so that offers featured in the upsell email are specific to that guest.
  • GuestJoy is an official Tripadvisor partner and has full tracking of reviews that are submitted by GuestJoy guests.

About GuestJoy

Leading Guest experience platform. The preferred choice among modern hoteliers who want to digitalize their guest experience but avoid using multiple standalone systems. Designed to simplify the life of you and your guests. Hundreds of properties in 25 countries trust GuestJoy.

About Guestline

Guestline’s multi-award-winning property management, distribution and digital marketing software for hospitality businesses are cloud-based. The software enables hospitality business owners and managers in sectors such as hotels, serviced apartments, pubs, and more, to manage bookings and operations both efficiently and profitably.

Innovative technology developments include integration with many leading third-party applications, tokenization for PCI compliance, website design and additional functionality to improve customer service and capture more revenue.

With offices in Europe and Asia, Guestline’s systems are used in 25 countries across 5 continents and enable properties of all sizes to achieve maximum occupancy at the most profitable rate.

Our Marketing Manager Flora spoke with Fanny Chapel from Emerald Stay, Switzerland.

Flora: Hi Fanny, it’s lovely to have a customer reach out to chat about GuestJoy. I also know that a colleague of yours has done an interview with Mews, and we were mentioned. How nice of you!

Fanny: We found GuestJoy in the Mews Marketplace and as we are very satisfied with it, I’m more than happy to share our testimonial. Emerald Stay is the first prop-tech company to manage premium homes in non-urban destinations. We are an innovative hospitality company constantly looking for the best tech tools out there. The short-term rentals industry is quite a new segment within hospitality so it is not always easy to find the systems that completely fulfill our needs and adapt to all specificities of the market. We were looking for an online check-in solution and we are glad to have found GuestJoy! We would definitely recommend it to any hospitality company.

Flora: So what made you choose GuestJoy? 

Fanny: Flexibility was a key decision driver. In GuestJoy, everything is completely customizable which is great. We have some very specific check-in procedures. For example, you may know that in Morocco, you are not allowed to host a Moroccan citizen in the same room as a person of the opposite gender if they are not married. So for legal reasons, we need to collect a wedding certificate in such situations. We needed a system that is able to integrate such specific requirements.

Another requirement for us was the scalability of the tool. GuestJoy allows us to grow. We are ambitious and we need solutions that can scale with our quick growth.

Furthermore, the price-quality ratio was one of the key things we looked at obviously. There are countless products on the market at a higher price compared to GuestJoy even though they offer the same features.

Last but not least, I would like to highlight the quality of the service we have received from Andrew and Kristin at GuestJoy – it is nice that you are a small, human company, open to considering new developments and very reactive. It is always easy to talk to someone.

Flora: We are really trying our best to provide creative and independent players. And of course we are proud of being fast both in replies and in implementation.

Fanny: Indeed and cloud tools are a must for us – we work with Mews Systems (a cloud PMS) and tools that easily allow us to work remotely whenever necessary.

The wonderful Emerald Stay team

Flora: On that note, what do you think about the daily job of a hotelier, how does GuestJoy help? 

Fanny: The automation part is just great. The less time we spend manually collecting check-in information from guests, the more we can spend on actual human interactions such as tailoring the services for their stay. We do not want our team members to complete repetitive tasks and/or something that technology would do better – we want them to be valued as human beings, completing tasks that cannot be automated essentially.

With the GuestJoy automated emails, we can ensure check-ins are completed and guests receive their property access code by email and by text message 24 hours prior to arrival. This way, they can let themselves in whenever they would like after 4 pm. They do not need to let us know if they wish to stop at a restaurant on the road or if they are late for whatever reason. Within 24 hours post-arrival, our team members will visit them, answer any questions they may have and share some local tips.

Flora: This is very smart. I have been on skiing trips with my family, and traveling with a child can really be a slower experience. We never arrived at the hotel/apartment on time, and this way your staff does not have to do overtime to wait for guests. 

Fanny: We like to challenge the status quo and do things differently if need be. We do things because they make sense for our owners and our guests, not because that’s the way they have always been done in the market. For example, we do not force the guests to stay at our properties from Saturday to Saturday throughout the winter season like some other players do because that’s not what they ask for.

The Adilah property in Marrakech Morocco

Flora: What is the biggest change GuestJoy has brought to your property? 

Fanny: Our operations team is divided into two parts. One is on-site in our destinations. They are the ears and eyes of Emerald Stay on the ground. They make sure that everything is seamless at the properties, they visit guests and they coordinate local operations. And then we have the centralized operations team in our main office in Barcelona. Before implementing GuestJoy, this team had to make sure we had all the right documents and information prior to each arrival. It took us a tremendous amount of time to manually contact each guest as you can imagine. Now it is a simple verification process!

Flora: What do you think the key trends are? What do you provide on the market that’s new? 

Fanny: I can not mention Covid-19. It obviously had a huge effect on the hospitality industry. We have noticed several trends which I believe will stay, not just in the short term. Overall people want flexibility and functionality. They seek flexible cancellation policies and often book at the last minute. They are looking for fully equipped properties so they can be independent during their entire stay. They may want to work remotely and need high-speed internet and screens (which we provide) – there is definitely a digital nomad trend.

The Emerald Stay Team

Flora: I love to hear this. We are all for innovation, convenience and seamless guest experiences! As for my last question, can you tell us your story in hospitality and how did you end up at Emerald Stay? 

Fanny: I studied International Hospitality Management and graduated in 2013. I have been working in short-term rentals ever since and have seen major changes in this industry. After spending 2 years in Brazil and 2 years in Spain working for an urban short-term rentals player, I joined Emerald Stay in Switzerland in January 2018. Prior to and throughout my studies, I worked at traditional hospitality companies such as The Ritz-Carlton hotels and smaller independent 4* hotels. But I must say I am fascinated by startups and growth. I was convinced by the model of Emerald Stay right off the bat and was their first employee. It’s been a very interesting ride so far!

We hear the word modern every day, but what does it really mean? It means relating to the present rather than the past. It is new, contemporary.

Hospitality per se is nothing new. People for centuries have accommodated others, famous inns, hotels and vacation places have always had kind, smart and educated personnel who catered to guests. I think we should take pride in this. Hospitality is such an ancient profession, one with a great past – after all diplomats, monarchs, artists and celebrities of all kinds are constantly using our services, just as much as millennials, young backpackers and average families.

Do you think receptions should have tablets?

However, Hospitality can and should be modern!


There are so many aspects to that. From refurnishing, re-designing lobbies, receptions & renewing your menu (hey, catering to special diets is on the rise, isn’t it?). Or offering more at your hotel than the traditional laundry services and minibar.

Consumer behaviour has changed drastically with technology on the rise. The new generation is all about the HERE & NOW, they are fast, impatient and want everything immediately (ugh 😫). However, it’s not just that people expect information and services to be immediately available (and of course also available online). People who realized that the everyday computer rut took over their lives are also your customers. Slow lifers, who advocate slow travel still use their smartphones to book, but they represent very different modernity. This means hotel’s need to digitalize.

Don’t we all have this on our desks? Technology.

Modern hospitality and hotels cater for the need of the modern guest. But how can a property adapt?


Personalization is key.

From Spotify to Instagram and even LinkedIn mostly – if not only – shows content that is relevant to the user. A lot of apps these days have personalized notifications, bits of information and recommendations that are tailored just for us. And let’s be honest, we love it. We feel special because the algorithm knows what we want to see.
According to this study, 72% of businesses now follow a path to customization (as opposed to standardization) when delivering customer experiences.

The hospitality industry is no exception from this modern property uses tools or staff to make guests feel special, and cater to all their needs effortlessly. There are even academics from the École Hotelier writing about this. Modern hospitality means no bullsh@t, no time to waste, and all guest-facing services delivered smoothly.

However, we know that this is actually not at all smooth or effortless on the hotelier side. After all, you probably don’t have time to analyze all guest bookings to differentiate between a family of four or four gal-pals travelling. What’s the solution then?

Technology.


Just remember your own household 30 years ago and now. Assess all the changes in how you use the internet (both for work and entertainment). That all can be implemented in your hospitality systems too.
We all use mobile phones, tablets, and obviously, your booking system, hotel website and communication need to be working on all these devices as well.
Everything should be seamless and easy to navigate. Just like how you set up a Youtube or Spotify list, everything about your booking processes, emailing and check-in should be seamless and easy to use. Let’s not forget, Millennials and Gen-Z aren’t the only ones booking online, people at the age of 60-70 and on also have smartphones.

Our friends at Staah wrote a nice article about contactless technology and what it brings.

Self-service.


How many of us just order food. Instead of going to a restaurant. (Let’s try to think beyond the need for delivery created by the lockdown). How many of us prefer to buy stuff online instead of going to a shop? It’s convenient! It’s easier, it’s self-service. People like to do things ‘their way’ whenever they would like. Just like with the buffet breakfast, there are many other things you can make self-service in your hotel. Take the procedures of purchasing extras (upselling) or check-in.

If you present guests with the opportunity to purchase (online, in a form of self-service) your sales will only increase, because it’s not as pushy as personally at the reception, or not as tacky as a flyer in the room.
The guest has the liberty to make the purchase from the comfort of their room/home, and they will if it’s cleverly worded and of value.

Besides the breakfast buffet, what else could be self-service?


Differentiate your hotel.


Who do you cater to? Who is your main guest persona? What do they want? This also falls under the personalization category. Our Co-Founder talks all about this in her opinion piece. Each hotel has its own demographic, try to find out what’s yours in terms of age, traveller type (business? romantic couples? touring elderly?). Then try to cater to that with your settings, food, digitalization and of course special offers. Andrew, head of Customer Experience jotted down his thoughts on that here.
But it’s not just personalization in terms of service. Boutique and Concept hotels are on the rise! Just as funky concept hostels and apartments. If you have the finances to create something unique then this is your time to do so! The modern traveller will love it.

My key takeaways:


– Guest expectations have changed, we all use technology in our daily lives – hotels are no exception!
– Personalization is key – everyone wants to feel special.
– Allow guests to handle things on their own – self-service. It will also save you time and labour.
– Differentiate your hotel – why are you the best choice for your demographic in your area?



What is your take on modern hotels? What could be improved on your property? Let us know here or on social media.

Informing only certain guests about a one-time thing? We got you!

A new GuestJoy feature that can come in very handy during any event happening at a hotel. Whether it’s a valentine’s day offer or a new government restriction that applies to your property, if you’d like to inform your guests Announcements are a perfect way. 

So what are announcements?
They are a one-time email that you can send to a selected number of guests, based on the 

  • Date range based on arrival & departure
  • All guests at your property on a certain date or date range
  • Reservation status (confirmed, canceled, or both)

For us at GuestJoy it’s extremely important that hoteliers can take the most out of our platform, and the guest experience they provide is seamless, automated and useful. 

Let’s go through a couple of examples why is this important for both you and your guests. 

Roadworks: 

It’s annoying and loud just outside your hotel. You can inform your guests about alternative access and offer free earplugs for light sleepers.

Local activities:
Let your guests know what’s worth seeing in your city, whether that is a museum, a festival or a Christmas market.

Covid restrictions: 

Your guests are probably wondering whether your property is safe, what is your cancellation policy, and how can they possibly push their holiday at your property to a later date. You can inform them about all these in a simple email.
Re-inviting guests who canceled or stayed at your property earlier is also an option.


Your special date&time based offers: 

Do you have some offers that are time and date specific? For e.g.: Valentines, Mother’s Day, Easter? Would you like to upsell the last available seats/items? Just send out a little info about the offers. 

Is it important to you to know how many people have seen your offers or are the announcement emails something crucial that your guests have to see? We have you covered! With the GuestJoy platform, you can see the results of how many people were reached a few minutes after sending, including those who have failed to receive your message. 

It all requires very little effort on your part yet these emails are fully customizable, enhancing your brand with your own images and colors.  

Announcements can be really useful for personal communication, for offering help, to inform your guests about a cool event in your town and all in all, just give a human touch while being automated.

We released our old concierge three years ago and it has stood against time quite well, but finally, it was time to make it even better. Over the years we have gathered so much data on what works and doesn’t work so we wanted to incorporate this into the new design.

To achieve this, we spoke with customers, revisited all the feedback we received over the years.

With the new makeover, we had following goals in mind

  • Modern design
  • Faster loading times
  • Fewer clicks for guests

The structure of the Concierge essentially remains mainly the same, but with modernised visuals and a focus on clarity and space and the customer for better conversion! The new platform has a responsive design, whether you are using it from mobile or computer, it will work perfectly and beautifully.

The first thing you’ll notice is that guests are now able to check-in, upgrade their room or open it with a click via the buttons on top of the page. Check-in and distributing room codes online have become somewhat of a necessity these days as they are contact-free.

new buttons on the concierge page


When your guest is viewing the Concierge on their computer, simply hovering their mouse over an offer will show them some of the offer descriptions, helping to raise their interest. This makes the platform more dynamic and helps in converting hesitant buyers.


Our new concierge design



Once they click the image, it opens up a full page, with a fresher, more user-friendly look (and we did not forget about GDPR 😉 ) There is also more content (information) on the screen which means less scrolling is needed. Guests can find anything they need a lot easier!


All the information in one place.


We are making your brand more visible, hotel colours are now emphasized. The clickable directions and info icons hold all the knowledge your visitors need to reach your location.


Don’t forget to list all the great amenities your property has to offer.


All in all the concierge is a perfect place to sell your extras, inform your guests about various things regarding your property, and help all guests check-in online to skip queues and the ‘human touch’.

A light and airy UI for better conversion

What our customers say:


I really liked the new design, as it’s sleek, modern and very functional (both on mobile and desktop). I then looked at the guest view of the current concierge, as it had been a while since I had looked at it and I must say the improvements really work! 

The flip tiles really work, as they give a quick teaser/explanation on the upsells. We see it so often in the guest activity, that guests are clicking literally into each offer, which can be annoying if you are just browsing, so the new version definitely makes that easier! The guest can now really find everything in one place without having to go back to google. 

Christine Ulmschneider, Menlo Park Hotel

I really like the fresh look and feel of the page. The new design is more clear and appealing. The offers showing more information with the flipping function is excellent, giving the guest more information without the need to navigate away from the Concierge page. The descriptions shown for the Directions will surely encourage the guest to tap for more information if needed. Overall the changes have given the Concierge page a very clean, crisp and professional look.

Matti Miettinen, Hotel Arthur

Interested in more?

Get in touch! We offer a 2 month free, no-commitment trial.

With its ability to streamline processes, provide valuable insights, and optimize experiences, artificial intelligence (AI) could drive the new wave of responsive, guest-centric hospitality.



While some remain skeptical, most hoteliers have – knowingly or unknowingly – embraced artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the guest experience and optimize revenue.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, involves computer systems that perform tasks that require what we would refer to as “intelligence,” or some form of thinking.

The concept has existed since the 1950s, but it is only in recent times that the technology has reached a point where it is considered reliable enough to be deployed in business processes. The data gained via this technology is utilized across a range of functions (even in the hospitality industry) ranging from basic customer service to personalization and sales.

Common uses of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in hospitality

Chatbots and messaging
Chatbots are an easy way to connect with your guests

This is perhaps the most common application of AI in hospitality. This customer-facing technology is extremely effective when it comes to responding to simple questions or requests via direct messaging and online chat services added to a hotel’s website, telephony, and social media platforms. This simple, but smart application has ensured your customer service is available 24/7 to respond to guests and convert opportunities into bookings.

A grander application of this aspect of AI is real robots that can talk to guests. Hilton and IBM created Connie for the hospitality group. This two-foot robot has been trained to provide information about local attractions and learns as it answers.

While the wider application of robots isn’t on the near horizon, it has the potential to replace a number of repetitive human tasks in a hotel, bringing inefficiencies.

Personalization

An automated world: how your hotel is using AI to enhance guest experience
VR entertainment

You can track the activities of your guests and prospective guests through their online activities. Combine this with surveys and information you collect through other sources, run it through a single data system that is enabled via AI and you will be provided with the ability to offer them unique, personalized experiences.

In addition, to offer guests a personalized experience, you can use this information to push special deals and local offers – all adding up to a better guest experience and increased revenue opportunities.

As you learn more about your guests, you can adjust a room experience to your guests’ preferences, be it temperature, music, food, and more. Such tailored experiences tell your guests you care about them and increase loyalty.

You can use upselling platforms to seamlessly drive more revenue and upsell efficiently to their guests with tailored needs.

Hotels are combining this with smart devices to control lighting, TV, and other features in the room.

Big learning with data

An automated world: how your hotel is using AI to enhance guest experience
AI could help you learn

Another way in which AI is being utilized within the hotel industry away from pure customer service is in data analysis. In this capacity, the technology can be used to quickly sort through large amounts of data and draw important conclusions about customers, or potential customers.

For example, a hotel might use data to predict lulls in bookings and offer special rates to counteract them. They could also gather data on the food that guests order so that they know what to keep on the menu and what to pull off. They could use AI to predict what menu items might be popular based on previous visitor favorites.

Conclusion

The potential for AI to improve customer service is unlimited. What we see now is a fraction of what this technology is capable of. From front-desk, room service, valet service, cleaning, and maintenance to power management, there is no area where AI cannot be used.

It is also not something that is only for the “big guys”. The beauty of AI is it is adaptable for all hotels to adopt – if not in its entirety, in some form or the other.

This article was brought to you by STAAH, GuestJoy’s expert PMS partner.

Like any other meeting, I had this year, Josef and I met on Zoom first. I really wanted to catch him for a chat because all the innovation and rebranding happening around MEWS caught my attention. We spoke about innovation, what are the changes in the industry and his personal experiences in hospitality and at MEWS. 

Flora: Can you start by telling us about yourself?

Josef: So I actually studied English and performing arts, I wasn’t really sure where that would lead me. Then I found web design, graphic design and later programming.

My first role at Mews was developing innovative distribution technologies but due to the changing dynamics the pandemic brought to the industry and, as a result, Mews my role quickly became focused on building our B2B business via the Mews Marketplace and open API as Product Director. 

My passion has always been traveling, visiting new places. So you see the map behind me? I am not allowed to scratch anything off on my own, only the places I visit with my daughters and wife. At the moment I live by the seaside, I love to swim and go paddleboarding even in this UK weather. 

However, I am originally from the Czech Republic. Prague is probably my favorite city, even though we left when I was 8. I am just very attached to it. We moved back there for a year so my kids could experience Czech school life and culture.

F: I also love the Czech Republic, my favorite place is České Švycársko, where I have spent a summer. 


Josef: That is marvelous, it’s a wonderful part of the country. I actually have a close connection with that place, my dad is from around there. A fun fact: they filmed Narnia there. 

Josef and his family on holidays

F: Tell us about MEWS. You are surely one of the most famous and innovative PMSs out there. What makes you so modern and innovative? 

Josef: I would say that the main difference is the vision set by our leadership team and our constant desire to think differently about the guest experience. Our people here look at things from a completely different angle, and we push, push, push until we break through. 

There are countless features you can develop, and many trends to jump on, but to set the trends, that is difficult. It requires a lot of tenacity. The mindset of not being afraid to fail and keep going until it works is something that is part of Mews’ culture and I think it’s what sets us apart.

The amazing individuals of the team, Matt, Richard, our CTO Honza and CPO Jirka work extremely well together. You could almost call it a hybrid team, as half have had careers predominantly in the hospitality industry, the other half our experts in respective fields. That blend of hotel expertise and external industry expertise is a great way for us to constantly question the status quo but grounding that in deep hospitality knowledge.  

We are always looking for new ways to improve. I feel lucky to work in a team like this. 

Rather than chasing the creation of new modules, our API allows partners like you or anyone else to connect to any part of the PMS to provide expert functionality in specific areas. This is pretty amazing, it’s open, and it’s free 

Flora: Indeed, actually our Development Team loves that about you. Hospitality works best if we are open and welcoming. Not just with guests, but technology-wise as well. We are all thriving to provide the best solution for hoteliers, why not make it open, so they can decide and connect whatever they need. As I speak more and more with hotel tech experts, it becomes clear that open, cloud-based platforms are the future. Open API, and a tech stack, as in hoteliers getting multiple products that work together smoothly. 

Josef: And this is really the key to understanding what Mews is. We have our own ideas about how to shake up hospitality and we are taking our partners with us on that journey. 

This is no secret, we would like to be as transparent as possible and allow everyone to access MEWS if they’d like to. 

Transparency is something very important for me. The first day I started working at MEWS I sat in on a meeting that had about 35 new starters and the finance team presented the entire revenue and expenses of the company. You don’t get this with other companies, they usually like to keep that info to themselves.

This kind of transparency translates to everyone and everything else, we are comfortable saying: that we don’t necessarily do guest messaging or upselling the best way, but we have many partners who have the technology and expertise for that. And we would like to empower those partners. 

The main thing is innovation and technology. Even in sales and marketing pitches we prefer to talk about the vision, the future and how we are simplifying hoteliers’ lives and enabling them to deliver a much better guest experience. Of course this is part of GuestJoy’s core initiative as well.

Our central message is that we are always going to be the most innovative product in the industry, and we are changing the industry, just like how online-check in and upselling changed the airline industry. 

At the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.

Flora: How do you see GuestJoy and MEWS working together in the future? 

Josef: Partnerships are extremely important for us, as I mentioned we like to enable our partners, that is why we focused on the API, full automation, so MEWS could work like an app store, where the hotel can access your software with a simple click. Ready to use. That is where we need to get to in this industry. 

This is how we could work for smaller hotels, our products complementing each other, they might not need all the features, but we know that many of our partners do certain features much better than us. 


Flora: What would your advice be to hoteliers in this strange world? 

Josef: Hang in there. Everyone is waiting to be able to travel. Of course at the moment it is tough to decide whether to shut your doors or stay open and how to handle your staff.

Now the key is how you manage your assets, and there are many properties out there from private hotels to large franchises to rentals. Hang in there, use this time to make sure you can automate operational tasks once everything starts up again. Look at the manual processes you do, your distribution models and marketing.

If you are spending less time on these tasks, you can engage people to book with you directly, and spend more time on your marketing. Not to mention cross-train your staff, and be busier with upselling. 

With all this you could squeeze out more revenue and decrease your distribution costs overall. 

If I had a hotel – my ultimate goal, I would love to own a hotel myself. I know that in a way I am being naive about the different challenges that hoteliers face every day, but if I had a hotel I would find it extremely difficult to operate. 

However, I would remind myself that people want to travel. We saw it during the summer, as soon as the lockdown lifted people went on traveling. They were streaming to get out from where they live. 

Flora: So if you owned a hotel what would it be? 

Josef: A 30-50 bedroom luxury boutique, city center Prague. I left when I was 8 but I will always have a connection with that city. 

Here at GuestJoy, we keep in touch with our customers on a regular basis. It is really important for us. A while ago we interviewed Kajetan, a Polish national who is the Business Analyst at the Airport Hotel Aurora Star in Iceland. 

Kajetan originally worked in IT in Poland however, life brought him to nordic lands. Read along to find out what he thinks about GuestJoy and how we support his work day-to-day. 

GuestJoy: So what is your story? 

Kajetan: I originally worked in IT in Poland, as soon as I got into hospitality I realized how different it is from what I previously thought. So my story is that I just wanted something else than my previous life in IT. I connected with the owner of the hotel and the GM and here I was.


Kajetan

I was shocked by how complex the industry is. Many people – among them myself – assume that working in a hotel gives a simple life. And now, as I am part of this industry, I know that I need to pay attention to a hundred different things at the same time.

Revenue, guests, complaints, who is staying here at the moment. Besides all this, you need to plan ahead, analyse the performance and report, while constantly thinking about what and how to improve taking seasonality into account.

Every day my team and I have new ideas and solutions. I believe this is a job that really keeps me on my toes. There is always something new, a challenge, a problem waiting to be solved. 

GuestJoy: Tell us about your property a bit! 

Kajetan: Keflavik has many hotels near the airport, but we are the only ones within walking distance, which is about 100 meters. The next one is 2 km away. This is definitely our main advantage. There are car rental opportunities, so we have everything you need for a good holiday. 

the wonderful team of the Aurora Star Hotel


Due to its location, our hotel is especially attractive for groups and solo “one-day” stayers. For groups for our hotel is simply the best solution for a stay before a departure – in my opinion, our location limits us a bit in this segment.

That is why one of our main goals is to increase the average length of stay of individual travellers. We would like to achieve it by finishing the expansion, adding meeting rooms, a spa and higher standard rooms to our hotel.

GuestJoy: So what are the issues that arise and how do you tackle them? 

Kajetan: At the moment we are focusing on guest relations. I have to be honest, Upselling was never our priority. The most important thing for us is to have satisfied and informed guests. 

GuestJoy offers the perfect tool for this. I love the feedback and analytics features it gives us all the data we need.

We receive about double or triple the amount of reviews than before GuestJoy, and of course thanks to this we are high on Trip Advisor. It’s relieving that I don’t need to go on multiple platforms to check all the reviews, it’s all in the system.

Previously we needed to encourage people at the check out (at the front desk, personally) to leave a review, these days GuestJoy does it automatically for us. And God forbid, once in a leap year when we receive a bad review I can immediately answer to it and it does not even have to go online. 

the reception


Our front desk used to be very busy, but now that we have the emailing system within GuestJoy, we can send them all the information pre-arrival. We used to have guests get lost at the airport, but now we can inform them about our exact location.

Even if they don’t memorize it, its always on their phone. Honestly, sometimes we just hand over the keys to the room and that’s it. We don’t even need to prepare anything because the online check-in feature works like a charm. 

I use this software every day, and even though upsell was never our focus, we still see our income increasing every week. We only have the most basic services, such as dinner, early check-in, late check-out. Without putting effort into it we still get a few requests. 

GuestJoy: What do you think about the UX/UI, Is GuestJoy easy to use? 

Kajetan: “I used to be the person who was directly involved in designing UX mockups for web applications. My approach has always been simple. Make it simple.

And I confirm that GuestJoy is following the same way. The dashboard sums up everything you need to know, and only a few clicks are enough to navigate through. That is crucial to provide a tool that could be easily used by non-technical users.

Of course, regarding any issue the support is always ready to help. I really appreciate that you are regularly taking care of your existing customers; with the blog articles you publish, webinars and all the practical information that I receive via email. This is the highest possible level of communication.

Would you like to learn more?

Get in touch with Kristin, our Nordic market manager

Online check-in. What is it? Why is it important? There are various softwares available, all offer something different. This article will guide you through the basics so you can learn and decide for yourself what is best for your hotel at the moment. 

Guests’ needs are rapidly changing, all generations own smartphones, have email addresses and social media by now. And with that guest expectations about your hotel are changing too. Technology is not just an addition, it’s a must at a property in 2021.

What is online check-in? 

It is regular check-in made online. All the information your country and your hotel requires from a tourist are put into an online system and transferred to your property before the guest arrives.
All the information here really means all, including passport or ID card scan, signature and even a face scan/real-time photo if you would like to have it. 

Why is it important? 

If you want the quick answer, let us put it for you in bullet points: 

  • Social distancing
  • More hygienic
  • Faster
  • Modern
  • Saves labour for both you and your customer
  • Can be done at any time on any device
Check-in kiosks in a hotel

Now the long answer. Why is this technology crucial in hospitality, and what does it bring to your property? 

Firstly, we are living through a pandemic, people are worried about hygiene and safety standards and most of us are not comfortable with close contact with strangers. We wrote more on Covid aid for your hotel here and here

Secondly, do you remember how online check-in revolutionized the airline industry? How we stopped queuing up and just started checking in on our phones/computers at home a day before the flight? That’s what online-check in can do to your hotel. 

  • Reduce lines
  • Speed up or entirely eliminate the processes at your front desk
  • Staff can now focus on other tasks

And overall make these things hassle and paper-free, giving the guest a more modern and less burdensome way to check-in.

Guests usually arrive tired and are in need of a rest, or arrive ready to hit the town and explore the surroundings. Give them a fast check-in experience, and they will definitely feel better about their arrival.

If you are freeing staff up from check-in procedures, they can focus on other (possibly more important) duties. For example, they can spend more time actually engaging with guests. This way you can learn first hand what they like and don’t like in your property.

The “traditional” reception

Another aspect to consider is flexible check-in hours. As a hotelier, you need to compete with Airbnb, and many others on the market. The ‘enemy’ almost always have 24-7 check-in.

So where do you go from here?

Start thinking about how would this change your hotel and your staff’s work. Start thinking about what kind of solutions can you easily implement, what are the options out there, which one you can afford and which one has an integration with your PMS or messaging system.

Room codes are very easily distributed via emails or text messages, while key cards still need to be picked up at the front desk. These messages could:

  • Specify your property’s check-in and check-out times
  • Enable guests to alert you to their check-in time
  • See your check-ins and check-outs for the day
  • Allow guests to check-in ahead of time
  • Process check out payments and print/email invoices
  • Send pre-check in and post check-out emails (source)

You do not even need a hotel check-in system, your PMS, CRM or Upselling tool should be able to do that for you.

If you are ready to take the next step read the article our CEO, Alar has written. He summarized all the different products out there for you with pros and cons, including his professional opinion.

We are so happy to announce that GuestJoy was a finalist and then won 2nd place in the Hotel Tech Report Upselling Software category.
As our competitors set very high standards we have worked very hard to get all reviews and partner recommendations in place.

Thank you to all of those who contributed to our position!
Hospitality professionals all over the world acknowledged our product.
If you are interested check out the scoring criteria.

Here are some of our favorite reviews:

I love their integration with Mews. They established two-way connectivity so the hotels could fully benefit from the contactless guest experience and a digital guest journey. These two systems together work like magic:)

Markus Levin, Sales Director – Mews

Easy & solid. That is the essence of GuestJoy. They offer a great guest journey for business owners looking to improve their check-in, upsell, and feedback flow. It is an extremely easy-to-use tool for the segment that needs this most: small and mid-sized hotels.

Christoph Irving, Partnerships Manager – Room Price Genie

Take a look at our profiles: GuestJoy Upselling and GuestJoy Surveys for more!

the badge we received from Hotel Tech Report

We are not even going to pretend, 2020 has been very hard for everyone in the industry. But we want to help make the end of the year just a little bit better with some support and tips, even if your hotel is closed at the moment.

1.) Check with your local hotel association what kind of aid and programs are available. They are always there to help and they definitely know the freshest news about your country’s restrictions.

2.) Re-think where you can cut costs and how could you run your hotel more efficiently. You don’t even need to invest; there are a lot of companies offering a COVID-relief program, a few months for free. New software, guest-facing platforms, check-in and upselling tools all have free trials. There is still time to implement these before the travellers start coming once more.

Think about what are the tasks that you can substitute with an automated system. You can browse websites for software that will relieve you from operational tasks. Can you implement a messaging system? Door locks or codes so you can skip on a night receptionist?

Here are our top takes:

Guestline Covid Hub
Bookassist Covid offers and advice
Hotelhero’s Covid Assistance
Netaffinity Resources

Check-in done at a traditional reception

3.) Reassess how the Guest Expectation has changed and try to apply this to your property.
– Guests will still need to know about safety and health standards
– Possibly more of them would like to take advantage of your in-room offers
– Many of them will like to minimize contact
Communicate pre-arrival
– Improve your mobile experience, as customers use smartphones more than ever
– Think about your booking and canceling policies, are they flexible enough?

Is there anything else we didn’t mention here? Think about what kind of people usually visited your hotel and how their needs might have changed.

Is the traditional reception a thing of the past?

4.) Reach out to ‘lost’ or previous customers. Make sure you don’t lose those vacationers who had to cancel due to the pandemic. Recover their data from your PMS and send them an invite to stay at your property. You can also send a campaign to previous customers, offering them a discount for booking direct, or a different deal.

5.) Think ahead – Easter and Mother’s day is just around the corner! By the time the vaccine “kicks in”, people will like to celebrate by travelling. You could add limited-time offers for that period. Make sure to offer bookers something special with a time-constraint so they will reserve their holidays immediately. For more on successful hotel marketing you can read The Hotels Network blog or Netaffinity’s blog.

Harness the technological advances that this year brought to the hospitality industry, because this is the new reality. There is still time to implement new software to take your hotel to the next level by automation. A fast, modern and somewhat more contactless hotel experience is definitely what the future traveller will need.

And lastly, but probably most importantly: make sure you and your employees are physically and mentally healthy. After all, we are all human and you can’t run a business without manpower!

The Accor chain has more than 5000 hotels in 4 categories from economy to luxury, meaning they have an offering to suit every type of traveler. Accor hotels pride themselves on being innovative, inclusive and promoting equality throughout their work and employment as well. 

The Eastern European Accor branch has been working with GuestJoy for a year now using all GuestJoy features; contactless online check-in, guest communication emails, upselling, and feedback gathering. 

Pullmann Riga Old Town

In order to meet the requirements of Accor, GuestJoy developed many touch points for guests to join Accor’s loyalty program, as this was a key metric for them. The presence of these touch points resulted in a higher number of loyalty club sign-ups.

“Out of all the products available, we chose GuestJoy because it’s easy to use, and it offers multiple solutions in one platform which covers the entire digital guest journey. Thanks to this we can engage with our guests before, during and after their stay, which is really important to us.”

Daniela Nova, Digital Media Director Accor
Eastern Europe

Daniela is excited about continuing through 2021 with GuestJoy. GuestJoy helped the Accor properties through the busy times of 2019, as well as difficult times during 2020. As a seamless, automated system, it liberates hoteliers from a lot of labor that they have otherwise performed manually. 

Daniela continued; “GuestJoy has countless benefits. A lot of them are especially useful these days when guests expect and need contactless interaction in the hotel. 

With GuestJoy, our properties can prepare all the arrivals, get the necessary information from visitors legally and safely, meanwhile also targeting them with offers and services. 

GuestJoy has excellent customer support, they always react quickly to any hotel request”.

We are delighted to have the Eastern European Accor team on board and hope to see hotels from the rest of the chain embarking on the digital guest experience soon. 

Accor interior
Mercure Budapest
Hotel Mercure Warszawa Grand

Online check-in completely transformed the Airline industry. Until now, the hospitality sector has been slow to follow. One reason has been the lack of strong business needs, but also the complexity of the project. But as guests are demanding it, more and more hotels are embracing this technology.

70% of hotels already are or are planning to adopt contactless technology for check-in, food ordering, concierge services and more

Oracle

Each hotel is unique and there are many PMS vendors out there. This makes it very challenging for the hotelier to start planning their digital transformation.

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of how to go about selecting the best check-in solution for your property. It’s by no means a comprehensive guide, but it will at least provide you with some general guidance!

Background

From the perspective of your guests, the hotel check-in process has been the same for a very long time:

The check-in procedure at hotels

All this can take a lot of time, and if your guest had a long journey to make it to your property, this is not what they will want. I don’t care if you have the best smiles in town. They just want to get into their room.

In the ideal scenario, guests will just enter their details before actually arriving at the hotel, in order to avoid this tedious experience.

Then, the hotel provides them with all the necessary details like breakfast arrangements, safety rules and also door access.

Prior to COVID-19, many hoteliers were feeling that by going digital, they would lose their personal approach.

But, in our new reality, guests actually prefer it. For guests, it’s about convenience, the speed of the process, safety, and freedom to choose when to do it.

After a long journey, I love waiting in the queue, to get my room key

said no guest ever

For hoteliers, it’s about saving on costs, but also increasing customer satisfaction. Handling each guest manually is a labor-intensive process, and during peak times can account for many man-hours.

The new reality

Going digital

As with any project, you need to define your goals for what mobile check-in needs to do for you. What do you want to achieve?

  1. Collect guest data to speed up the check-in process
  2. Need to collect credit card details for payment
  3. Ability to upgrade the room or other services
  4. Open doors or distribute key codes

By looking at each stage separately, we can start understanding which solution is most suitable for your hotel, as each feature comes with caveats and costs.

Next, we will look at each key component separately to make it easy to understand the project.

PMS integration

For mobile check-in to work, guest data needs to be in the PMS in a timely and correct manner.

This means the solution needs to be able to get data from the PMS, and ideally, also send data back.

Many PMS vendors support connections with 3rd party systems. This is most commonly done via API. The better and more open the API is, the more solutions you’ll be able to choose from.

Unfortunately, many PMS vendors (especially on-premise ones) lack suitable interfaces. This means that even if you want to go on implementing mobile check-in, you actually can’t. So having a closed PMS can prevent you from modernizing your hotel.

Key questions:

  • Does my PMS have an open API?
  • Can check-in providers send data back to my PMS?
  • Is there a fee for using the API?
  • Can all vendors integrate?

Good PMS vendors with open API

Check-in form

Hotels have different needs when collecting data from guests. These may include:

  • Verification that the reservation is correct
  • For analytical purposes
  • Government requires it
  • Marketing purposes
  • Upselling

You as a hotelier will probably want to convert the existing paper form into a digital one.

This means the check-in form editor needs to be highly customizable so that you can create any field in your check-in form.

Otherwise, you won’t be able to fully replace the current processes without making compromises or going against government legislation.

Look for vendors whose customization options aren’t going to limit what you can achieve.

Key questions:

  • Can I customize all the fields?
  • Will the design match my brand?
  • Can I include a marketing opt-in?
  • Can the guests digitally sign the check-in?
  • Can the guests provide scans of their passports/IDs?
  • Can they also check in accompanying guests?

Payment

Guest reservations can be paid in advance, but in many cases, they are partially paid or the guest needs to pay fully on-site.

Even if the payment is made fully, you still might want to get the guest’s credit card details if they order services or accidentally break something.

This means obtaining guest credit card details is a must in many cases.

But the term “credit card payment” can have different meanings:

  • Asking for the card details using a form
  • Verifying that the credit card is valid
  • Reserving funds in advance
  • Making the actual payment

Try to decide on what you want to achieve before approaching different vendors, because when you accept a payment, you also pay commission to payment gateways, and in many cases to the check-in provider.

Key questions

  • Will the mobile check-in be available only to paid customers?
  • Do my guests need to do payments?
  • What is the payment gateway commission?
  • Does the check-in provider take a commission?

Door access

The biggest challenge with all mobile check-in providers is how the guests open the door.

Many hotels all over the world use door systems, which very few systems can integrate with. Or even worse, they use physical keys.

This means digital solutions have a tough time making the process completely contactless.

Ideally, door locks should also be modernized, but there are ways of going digital even without costly upgrades.

Many properties start their access system modernization with a single floor or a room category. This means all guests who use online check-in will always end up there. Then slowly build up from there and modernize the entire property.

Also, many options can be combined so that you have a key card with the PIN code, for instance.

Links

Key cards

The most commonly used solution in hotels. The trouble with these solutions is, that they offer only limited connectivity options with external systems, and they are expensive.

ASSA Vingcard, which is very popular, does provide its own app for door access. When you want to go with this option, then you either need to hand out keys physically in the reception or have a kiosk that dispenses cards.

Bluetooth upgrade

Another solution is to retrofit existing locks with a Bluetooth-enabled module, so you can run the existing key card-based system in parallel.

This means you can provide the convenience of the contactless door opening without the need to do costly upgrades like changing locks or even doors, and still keep your existing key card setup.

Doors can then be opened using an app on the guest’s phone, or through a centralized web application that is able to open doors.

a door lock

Example module, that will be fitted inside the lock.

The beauty of this solution is that visually there will be no changes made to the door.

Useful links:

PIN code

This has been used extensively in the hostel and vacation rental worlds.

The PIN option means guests can enter the room even if their phone is dead, or they lost the key card.

These PIN codes are managed over WiFi and work in the same way as a key cards.

A PIN is assigned to a door with a lifetime. This means previous guests won’t be able to enter the room past their departure date.

Also, you can assign a master code for hotel staff.

A PIN code-based door lock

Quite often these doors have WiFi connectivity, which is very convenient if you have a smaller property with good WiFi access. All doors can be controlled through a centralized management interface.

Physical keys

Many smaller properties still use physical keys and there is no real business benefit to changing them. You could use storage boxes with code access to store keys; not an ideal solution, but a good intermediary step.

If your property is small, you can prepare the keys in an envelope or PIN code safe and give instructions via email.

Remember when these heavy keys were everywhere?

Key questions

  • What is the one-time upgrade cost?
  • What is the monthly cost?
  • How secure is it?
  • For Wifi & Bluetooth-enabled devices, what is the battery time?
  • Can third-party systems connect to your access system?

Solutions

Here we look at different solution types that are out there. Naturally, each vendor has its own nuances. There are many different solutions out there. Each one has its pros and cons.

Web-based solutions

These are solutions that don’t require anything to be installed by the user. Just a click from the email, and it all works.

The benefit of web-based solutions is that you can get them up and running very easily, and the upfront cost in terms of time and money is significantly lower.

Many PMS vendors already have some degree of functionality in this area, but you can use third parties who specialize in this.

Online check-in or contactless check-in is definitely the future

Pros

  • Easy to implement
  • Cost-effective
  • Very easy to use for guests
  • No compatibility issues

Cons

  • Difficult to open doors without an upgrade
  • Requires guest emails

These solutions can be easily complemented with a kiosk with a web-based solution.

Check-in kiosks

Many hoteliers opt for kiosks because of their physical appeal, and people are accustomed to using them in airports. You put them in the lobby, direct guests to use them, and they generally work well.

Kiosks are a faster way to do it

Pros

  • Good if you need do dispense key cards
  • Accessible for guests without an email address
  • You know for a fact that the guest is at your property

Cons

  • Unless you have many of them, from the guest’s perspective, no added value
  • Quite expensive to implement
  • Higher maintenance cost

With check-in kiosks, hoteliers get the benefits, but not the guests. They still have to wait in the lobby, and kiosks are yet another contact point guests will want to avoid.

Mobile app-based solutions

The market is full of providers which enable guests to check-in, upsell, or provide feedback on their apps. Apps have the added benefit of working offline and have a very visual experience.

But there is one “gotcha”- guests need to download the app.

J.D. Power survey found that a significant number of guests (38 percent) don’t even use the apps during their hotel stays,

Skift

And that poses a significant barrier. BUT, that does not mean it is a bad idea. If your hotel chain is big and you have a lot of loyal customers, then it might make sense for you to take this route.

You can open doors with your smartphone

Pros

  • Very interactive guest experience
  • Offline capability
  • Can potentially open doors

Cons

  • Huge install barrier
  • Phone compatibility issues
  • More complicated setup

Conclusion

There are many different types of solutions out there with different price ranges. And sometimes the limiting factor can be completely something else like your PMS lacks the connectivity options or door locks are outdated.

You, as a hotelier, need to decide how far you want to take the experience. Everyone wants a Tesla, but we all have a budget. That is why define your end result and start going step-by-step.

Recommended door lock vendors

It’s not just about getting visits to your website. It’s about getting quality traffic to increase conversions. Our expert partners at STAAH will guide you through this journey.

To have a visitor come back to your website to book with you is not easy, especially with so much competition around. Even if you have the best deals and prettiest rooms, you need to attract guests and convince them to book many other ways.

We are not just talking about safety and hygiene, but to show that the guests will have a great experience at your premises.

Here are a few tips to consider on attracting guests to your hotel website:

Build a website that attracts and retains users

The first and most important step is having an attractive, clutter-free website and easy booking steps. No amount of promotions will help if your website doesn’t deliver a great experience.

Your website must be:

  • Mobile-friendly. It makes sense, given that more than 50% of search traffic now comes from mobile devices.
  • Fast-loading. 53% of visits are abandoned if a website takes longer than three seconds to load.

Now about the visuals. Less is more seems to be the philosophy these days. In the world of travel, nothing sells better than a good image or video. Make sure your website has plenty of them.

Your page should also be easy to navigate, the booking button easily reachable, and try to include features such as WatchMyRate which improve user stickiness.

Your website should be fast and easy to navigate

Content content content

The foundation of any digital strategy is content. Online ‘noise’ can be overwhelming, so try to figure out relevant content, that is unique to you and your audience. Think out of the box and beyond the four walls of your property when brainstorming.

Most importantly, you need not be the only one creating content for your website. Smart hoteliers will get the guests involved. That’s called UGC – User Generated Content – the most authentic and sellable kind of content available.

You could ask one of your trusted returning guests to blog/post about their experience, or invite someone well-known for a weekend, and ask them to endorse and advertise your premises.

Promote Staycation deals

Staycationers are looking to escape their daily routine. Remove the stress of planning by offering multiple staycation deals.

Plan different packages for each season or based on special events (e.g. Easter, Mother’s day, etc). Cater to the audiences that often come to your hotel (are these families, single travellers, couples?).

Consider offering online vouchers that can be bought from your website but redeemed later.

Give your guests the chance to build their own itinerary as well. Allow them to choose the perks and events they care about most. Customisation will help them feel more like they’re on vacation even if they’re not going too far away from home for their holiday.

Don’t forget to update your distribution channels with these offers!

Update your website seasonally!

Become a Storyteller

Extending on the point above, you need to tell a story – your story, the story of your location, and the people around you.

In fact, other people’s stories are a great way to engage a wider audience and build more local advocates. This could be for e.g. building your hotel’s brand around the local scenery, history and services. (Are you a big city hotel that caters to busy business people, or are you a small boutique that hosts honeymooners?)

Pro tip: use virtual reality to give a room tour.

Don’t forget SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is a great way to drive quality traffic to your website. However, SEO is not an overnight results-generator. It’s more of a long term stable traffic earner.

With people spending so much time online, this is an excellent opportunity to concentrate on building brand equity by engaging with consumers and providing them with quality content.

Organic search is perfectly placed to make the most of this opportunity. In a post-COVID-19 world, your website could be more valuable than ever to drive business.

How to get started? Here you can find a great resource base.

Paid Ads & Marketing

Facebook, Google and your OTAs are all commercial businesses. To get ahead on any of these platforms, it’s crucial to have a paid presence. Update your features, photos and text whenever you have new information available.

Try running campaign ads on social and also retargeting your visitors who viewed deals on your website. Retargeting targets potential hotel guests who have already visited your hotel’s website including your booking engine by displaying advertisements for your hotel to them on other digital platforms.

Many companies will do that for you such as Net Affinity, The Hotel’s Network, or STAAH.

Keep your customers engaged

It goes without saying that responding to your online reviews is important, and a great way to promote traffic to your website.

These days, potential guests are all online and one of the key factors influencing a guest’s booking decision are your property’s online ratings and reviews.

Monitor all your feedback across your website, GoogleMyBusiness, and social channels.

Explain the Direct Booking perks

Be transparent in your communication and prove your offer to be the best, by displaying comparative rates on your website, emphasise the perks of booking online.

Many hotels fail to capture direct bookings simply because OTA sites give the impression that they offer the best rates.

And it is a fact that room rate remains as the top driver in the booking decision, independent of other offers and deals.

It is a good idea here, to work towards adjusting your inventory and pricing, to portray direct bookings to be the best option always offering the best rates in the market.

And finally, you can always target your loyal customers via emails to come back.