If You Outsource Your Hotel's Concierge Service You Need the Right Technology To Support It
By Alex Shashou, President & co-founder of ALICE
For hotels that outsource their concierge services, request management technology can be a valuable tool to connect outsourced service providers with in-house staff and operations. This improves the management of guest requests as well as the communication between both your third-party concierge and your staff and between your third-party concierge and your guests, guaranteeing better guest service.
The Rise of the Outsourced, Virtual Concierge
Outsourcing concierge services in hotels is nothing new - bus companies and other hospitality brands have been placing their agents in hotels for years - but the ubiquity of the smartphone has facilitated a new, innovative breed of outsourced service provider, that of the virtual concierge.
Virtual concierges provide the same benefits to guests, but through digital means. On the front end, the guest experience differs from the traditional outsourced concierge model, as the guest never "meets" these concierges, but interacts with them instead through a mobile application or SMS. On the back end, however, the virtual concierge job is very similar to that of a hotel concierge. The concierge makes suggestions, books reservations, orders services, and tracks the status of requests, just as an in-house concierge would.
1. Every time your guest makes a request to your virtual concierge, that's a valuable piece of guest data you want associated with that guest's profile. This guest information can be used to enhance the guest's stay, and hopefully future stays, at your hotel. You want your outsourced concierge to be using a request management system that is integrated with the system your in-house guest teams use, in order to centralize this data and leverage it for better service and guest experience.
2. Additionally, your virtual concierge will often receive requests for items and services outside of his or her mandate, such as request for more towels or the WiFi password. Without a shared request management system, the concierge facilitating the request for more towels has to pick up the phone, call the hotel, and hope the request gets fulfilled. The agent is unable to confirm to the guest the request has been filled without calling the hotel again and tracking down the status of the request, which might involve a long and fraught chain of communication. This is operationally challenging for your hotel and compromises the guest experience. In contrast, if both your in-house staff and virtual concierge service use a request management system, guest requests can be handled seamlessly, even if they're addressed to your outsourced concierge, but require fulfilment by your staff.
Because request management technology unites all hotel staff members - in-house or outsourced - on the same request management platform, it is the ideal solution to integrate the activities of virtual concierges with the those of a hotel's internal teams. Without a request management system to unify your outsourced concierge service with the rest of your hotel staff and operations, you run the risk of compromised guest service and losing valuable guest data. With request management technology, you get all the benefits of outsourcing the concierge function, without any of the drawbacks.