What to my wondering eyes should appear, but a giant embedded computer screen across which the concierge and I could peer. During these times of so many technology innovations, some of which can be confusing, detached and frustrating in hospitality environments, I was astounded by a whole new look and feel at the Inter Continental Miami concierge desk. A smooth, uncluttered, streamlined desk with a gigantic computer screen embedded into the table stood before me. Chef Concierge Eduardo Rosello, stepped around to my side of the desk, and stood next to me. That’s when he brought out his finger…and touched the sleek desk and computer screen. He swirled his finger around a few places and absolutely delighted me with what he could do. It was personal, exciting, even intimate yet also professional and interactive. It was a completely new experience for getting information and resources from the concierge and added a whole new level of engagement for both guest and employee.
Gone is the desk with papers, pencils and maps and with it a cluttered look. The new desk features interactive touch screens and complements the exhilarating, stylish and energetic feel of the lobby and the unique flair for which Miami is known.
These screens offer information about the city, sporting events, weather, cultural events and airport information. They enable the guest and the Concierge to both navigate through information and be “in the know” while interacting with one another. Then, if anything else is needed after this interacting phase with the guest, the concierge can provide additional information in the form of brochures, literature, booklets, promotions and discounts which remain out of site but within easy access for the guest.
When asked why they installed this new feature and what led to it, Chef Concierge Rosello explained, “The InterContinental Miami is a landmark. Miami is a trendy city and we wanted to be on the cutting edge of technology. These screens were designed specifically for this hotel to add innovative flair to the traditional role of the concierge”.
With guest techno-savvy higher than ever and all the iPhones, iPads, iPods and androids that guests arrive with, the concierge needs to constantly be one step ahead so they can continue to be the strong resource guests expect but also evolve with changing needs and interests to keep guests excited and engaged . Maintaining that personal touch and experience that only the concierge can deliver yet also provide value in new and innovative ways are why this profession continues to be in demand and a key to guest loyalty.
Chef Concierge Rosello, also a member of Les Clefs d’Or, the prestigious international concierge association, says that “The reaction of guests has been incredible! Everyone that approaches the desk is inclined to touch it and navigate through the various applications. They have never seen anything like it before and are certainly quite impressed with our modern interactive desk.” He notes that guests are amazed by the different features that can be achieved by the screens and how quickly they can solve problems as well.
In one particular case during the recent severe storm in the Northeast, the concierge team was able to give up to date information regarding real time flight information since the screens are connected to Miami International Airport. They were able to provide the guest with accurate information on the spot and avoid the frustration of busy phone lines. With basketball in season, the concierge and interactive screen team are plugged into Miami Heat basketball and can show guests different game possibilities and visually show them seat and ticket options.
Applying this kind of ingenuity to ordinary moments and turning a simple question to the concierge into an interactive experience is a powerful business strategy. Hoteliers who spend the time to research and develop new ways to address basic tasks and yet still deliver efficient service will end up with delighted guests. Delighted guests spend more, tell their friends, write better reviews and will want to come back for more!
The concierge desk has become a hub of guest engagement and a magnet for more personalized experiences. Instead of using technology to replace concierge functions, the InterContinental Miami recognized how this unique technology could augment the personal touch of the concierge and enhance the value of this resource for guests. The result has been the exact opposite of what has been feared when technology tools have been introduced in other hotel environments; reducing staff. Instead, it has been a strong motivator for more impulse decisions on things to do both in and outside of the hotel and allows the concierge to better define, manage and package guest preferences.
It has also been an invigorating change for the concierge team. Chef Concierge Rosello notes the concierges are thoroughly enjoying the new desk. “It allows the concierge to do a bit of a “show” when sharing information and using the applications simultaneously. It enhances the way we communicate and share with our guests.” The concierge team is even more energized to connect with the guests and feels newly infused with enthusiasm as they explore all the ways to play with their new “gadget” to benefit the guest experience.
One guest commented that it made his encounter with the concierge more efficient. “The concierge gave me more choices, more quickly and that helped me feel better about my decisions that evening”.
Another interesting dimension that appeals to guests is the visual impact. In face to face communication, a UCLA Study from Albert Mehrabian, Ph.D, showed that 55 % of our interactions are influenced by body language, 38% by tone of voice and and 7% words used. This interactive computer screen allows the concierge to have that greater face to face impact and body language through the touching and responding to the screen with the guest. Both concierge and guest share more of this interplay of the senses and are able to connect and experience the delivery of service together. Ironicly, this represents a powerful solution to guest frustrations with too much technology, impersonal and rushed interactions. It showcases even more the many talents of the concierge in an entertaining way, using technology to compliment a more personal experience instead of distract from it. And, other guests actually enjoy waiting in line for their turn as opposed to being impatient as it’s fun to watch each guest discover something new.
This program and technology solution was designed specifically for the InterContinental Miami Hotel by Edwards Technologies, a firm that creates audio visual entertainment technology and unique multi-sensory systems, based in El Segundo, California. Brian Edwards, Chairman of the Board, for the 30 year old firm said,” We reached far into the future to design this programming for the InterContinental Miami and considered how to enhance guest needs and opportunities with more engaging experiences.” He noted that in addition to the two concierge surface table computers which he likens to a giant IPAD plus more, his firm designed nine smaller lobby cocktail tables with embedded computer screens to add even more options for InterContinental Miami guests. Guests can sip drinks, taste appetizers and search for ways to spend the rest of their stay or visit and explore things going on in the hotel as well as around Miami. These cocktail tables will further drive business to the personal touch of the concierge with a “call concierge” button after the guest has done their own search and wants to take action on what they found. This will be part of the next phase for Chef Concierge Rosello and his team and will yield even more “WOW!” according to Rosello. Edwards notes that these products and strategy actually become a ‘sales agent’ for the concierge. They serve as a profit center for the hotel and reinforce the value of the multi-talented concierge team and their skills in exceptional service delivery to benefit guests even more.
The Miami InterContinental team feels they may have a unique thing going as they do not know of any other hotel using this technology and design in any hotel in the U.S. although countries known for advanced developments in technology may be exploring something similar.
Bottom line…there are always new ways to “tap” into the guest experience and explore how to make moments more memorable. Chef Concierge Rosello and his team have that special touch.