The Best Developers Are Also Users – Behind the Scenes of our Live Experience Solution
Ever since TrustYou was founded more than a decade ago, our mission was to help hospitality professionals get valuable insights into the traveler experience. Simply put - we wanted to encourage hoteliers from around the world to step into their guests’ shoes, through the power to listen to feedback. We have found throughout the years, that empathy works best even when it comes to something as technical as product development, so we are the first to put ourselves into the shoes of clients in order to understand their needs and expectations.
Same as we are providers but also travelers, we are developers but wanted to find out what it’s like to also be users. When researching and developing our exclusive TrustYou Live Experience solution, three members of our product and design teams went the extra mile in order to understand what the market was missing and what our users needed most from our guest engagement solutions. Alice Meier, Mariana Vásquez, and Yimin Zhou did internships at three different hotels in Munich, Germany and Almeria, Spain. They followed the staff around for a day, as a way of getting an insider view into everyday hotel operations and guest communications.
After shadowing the front desk and taking notes during their entire time on-site, our colleagues leveraged the information they gained for our product development and project implementation. Their observations proved to be extremely valuable in delivering a product that makes a real difference in the hospitality industry today. Here are some of the key insights from Alice, Mariana, and Yimin, in order to shed light on some of the most common everyday challenges for hotels. This is what they noticed during their time at the front desk and how they worked towards solving these issues by providing product solutions.
The language barrier
Regardless of location, when greeting international travelers, there will always be the matter of a language barrier. The hotel staff is also a mix of different nationalities, which comes as a plus in various situations; however, when communicating with guests, language barriers tend to make things harder and even frustrating at times. One of our colleagues noticed a situation where a guest tried to request information about a hotel service from the front-desk, but due to pronunciation and accents, as well as the wear of sanitation masks, the request was misunderstood.
“This is one challenge that will inevitably happen when communicating face-to-face; it can sometimes have a funny outcome but it can also prove to be frustrating in other cases. This is how we came to understand that written communication is preferable”, said our colleague Alice. “When you see a certain word in writing, it becomes easier to grasp the meaning of it or to look up a translation in a timely manner and provide a satisfactory answer or fix an issue”.
Messaging with guests and even between the staff members is an effective solution that eliminates language barriers and any possible frustrations.
|"Stepping into our clients’ shoes is always eye-opening and incredibly helpful for building the right products. We understood that the front desk has to wear many hats and coordinate a large number of processes for both staff and guests. Helping to make communication more efficient really makes a difference, and that is what we are passionate about."|
Internal operational challenges and scattered communication flow
While working at the hotels, the TrustYou interns have also noticed a common tendency of only communicating through messaging apps (mostly WhatsApp) with a hotel manager and only in case of major issues. In most cases, all the great possibilities enabled by messaging were overlooked and staff members were used to writing important information and even “assigning” tasks to other colleagues through post-its. This inefficient practice can be easily replaced with a communication solution that supports the team members in sharing one Inbox, marking tasks, and even tagging other colleagues or departments when needed. “We noticed a lot of back-and-forth when it came to internal communication and we immediately saw the need for a unified solution, where the hotel staff could engage with one another in an efficient and timely manner. This is how we came to develop Team Chat, our exclusive solution, with one shared Inbox, where users can communicate, report issues, tag colleagues, and ensure that the proper department is in charge of what needs to be solved”, said Mariana. “That scattered, unorganized communication flow should be a thing of the past and we want to ensure that, no matter the size of a hotel or its staff, operational excellence is easy to achieve and leveraged for a better engagement with guests and higher satisfaction rates, both among travelers and employees”.
|“Being able to shadow the managing director was very insightful. I got a much better understanding of the importance of having everything so very well coordinated internally and how that reflects on the frictionless experience provided to guests. I also experienced the problems the hotel workers have in this new reality and used those challenges as the starting point of designing the new Team Chat tool.”|
Difficulties with invoices
Invoices are a little detail that can often go unnoticed during the guest journey if the process is seamless and frictionless. However, invoices are often impacted by the type of travel (leisure or business) and guests can request different services to be added to their account, which means that the final amount can change. Our colleagues noticed that communications about invoices were rather difficult at the hotels they worked at and it was hard for the staff to keep up with the changes and requests that affected the invoices. Yimin also mentioned that “many guests requested their invoices via email, which went to show the heavy reliance on digital communication. Actual paperwork is easy to misplace and damage, so modern guests are moving to digital and hotel businesses need to keep up with this trend”.
|“After getting the inside view on daily hotel operations and communications, I can honestly say that I’m a firm believer in the difference our Live Experience solution can make. We have developed the product in such a way that it can facilitate contactless communication between hoteliers and guests, reduce guests' waiting time, and increase the overall efficiency.”|
Migration towards contactless approach
On the same note, an overall approach that all three of our TrustYou interns have noticed is the one of migrating towards contactless operations. Especially given the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also due to its many benefits, contactless communications are now preferred over traditional, face-to-face interactions. The safety of both guest and hotel employees is the number one priority and hotels from around the world are looking for the best possible means of keeping communications efficient and personal, while also maintaining them contactless. At the end of their internships, Alice, Mariana, and Yimin all agreed that this was the main reason why TrustYou should develop and perfect a best-in-business digital communication solution, an umbrella type of system, where the hotel staff can easily and efficiently communicate with guests, but also with one another.
This is how the TrustYou Live Experience and its Team Chat integration turned an industry need into a real solution. We are now enabling hoteliers and staff members to manage multiple channels of communication from one inbox, to solicit and act upon on-site feedback, to solve issues in a timely manner, and to optimize internal operations.