Product Development During Crisis – FAQ with an Expert
At TrustYou, we are always striving to enhance our award-winning guest experience platform, according to the needs of both our users and their customers. After such a rollercoaster of a year, where so many things have irrevocably changed, our products have naturally shifted directions as well and we are proud to say that we recently brought a number of innovative additions to our feedback solution.
One of the most significant ones is the launch of our exclusive TrustYou Live Experience! This new addition to our feedback platform is a seamless combination of direct messaging solutions and a customizable live survey, both meant to support the live engagement between guests and the hotel staff. As a result, the communication remains open and constant throughout the stay and ensures that the feedback provided helps create an excellent guest experience, not the next time, but right then and there.
Rachel Dowling, our Vice President of Product, is our expert du jour and we made sure to ask her the most pressing questions regarding the TrustYou platform, the 2021 product roadmap, and the much-needed changes that occur behind the scenes in the product evolution of the travel and hospitality industry. Here’s what we discovered:
Product development is the backbone of every B2B company but last year made it challenging to keep products relevant and evolve quickly. How did you keep up with the pace of change?
We focused on tight communication and on keeping in touch with our customers. We listened to their needs and conducted Customer Advisory Board Meetings which helped us to be aware of what hoteliers and more specifically, our customers, were facing throughout the crisis months.
We believe the key to recovery is in guest feedback and having the proper means to listen to it. The need for feedback tools will be higher than ever, as hoteliers rebound from the crisis. This is not a quick fix but a crucial long-term solution and our products were already answering many of these needs. During the crisis, we improved our semantic analysis capabilities around health, public safety, and virus-related keywords. And, of course, we launched our Live Experience product offering which is directly aimed at helping hoteliers listen to critical guest feedback.
What is the most important shift that you have made in the TrustYou product approach and what was the reason for it?
We recognized the importance of strengthening the tools that we offer in order to allow hoteliers to leverage contactless communication. This led us to shift resources towards our Live Experience product offering and accelerate the pace of development. We already had a strategic position in the space but we really doubled down during the pandemic since we realized real-time communication between hoteliers and guests was going to be a central issue moving forward.
Which change in traveler behavior do you think will have the biggest impact on the TrustYou product? What’s the one need/expectation that you are working towards fulfilling?
Corona has changed so much. Travelers are staying closer to home, but they are still traveling. Safety is a top concern, so hotels need to make sure they are following appropriate protocols and keeping safe distances. One way in which they can showcase their efforts is by using the TrustYou Trusted Cleanliness badge. This ensures travelers that their hotel of choice is prioritizing their safety and wellbeing.
Also, travelers expect safe, contactless communication. Hotel staff need that too. So we are working now on an internal chat and task tool for hotel staff which integrates seamlessly into our other products. This would improve everyone's safety and ensure that hotels can meet their legal and safety requirements, while addressing every guest's needs.
What, in your opinion, is the key trend in hospitality tech and how will this affect product development in the industry?
Conversational communication. Millennial and Gen Z travelers expect creative means of messaging with their host or hotel staff at any point in time. They expect informal, helpful, fast hospitality, available through their smartphone. The conversation has to be not only helpful, but also brand-aligned in tone. I think forward-thinking product teams will continue to invest in machine learning and NLP technology, like we are doing at TrustYou.
This goes hand in hand with IoT (internet of things). There is a blending taking place between online and offline worlds. Connected tech in the form of doors that unlock with a mobile app and room service that can be ordered by scanning a QR code - I think we'll see more and more of this.
Name the top three most important functionalities of the TrustYou experience platform and how they can help users navigate the crisis.
- - Inbox -- This is naturally important since it allows hotels to listen to all their guest feedback.
- - Dashboard and Portfolio -- Data analysis is crucial. Our new Public Health semantic analysis categories can help hotels track guest feedback about their COVID-19 safety programs.
- - Live Surveys + Messaging -- The Live Experience product allows hotels to set up distinct listening channels on-premise and even before arrival. This facilitates the entire guest stay and ensures that every guest has a five-star experience.
What is the most challenging part of developing a clear product roadmap during unclear times?
We rely on getting feedback from early product adopters to make sure that we are following the right path and to adjust our products. During uncertain times, however, fewer hotels are able to test new products or services. It's understandable since their staff is reduced and in many cases they are temporarily shut down. But this makes our test-and-learn approach a little more difficult.
What is TrustYou’s product development department’s mission for 2021?
We are working on becoming the best Guest Experience Platform. This means a truly seamless communication platform which aids hotels in speeding up their response times to travelers. As part of our communication platform, we are going to enable internal hotel staff communication and improve our mobile offerings to ensure that all staff on the go have a super user-friendly product. At the same time, we are working on providing the absolutely most helpful insights and data analytics to all levels of the hotel enterprise. Data is in our DNA and focusing on the communication aspect also means delivering meaningful KPIs about communication to the right stakeholders.
We started our “FAQ With An Expert” series back in 2020 and with so many dedicated and knowledgeable members on board, we are excited to continue it throughout this year. In every article, we interview TrustYou experts in order to shed some light over their area of expertise, as well as to enable them to share data, insights, and advice on the strategies that they implement to make our company work like a well-oiled machine.
Until the next one, make sure to check out our previous articles in the series: