, le média spécialiste du tourisme francophone

II. Accor: “The digitalized experience has to highlight the heart of the profession”

Interview with Christine Pouletty, Customer Experience Director at Accor

The digital experience on a website or mobile application is an integral part of the client’s experience and satisfaction. Thanks to a new exclusive digital service, Accor is reinventing clients’ experience in its hotels. The objective is simple: enjoy digital technologies to welcome clients in more personalized ways. The reception will be less focused on administrative formalities, the hotelier can make himself more available to his clients, bring a service fitting their needs, or simply save them time. By massively deploying this digital solution, Accor offers an online solution in line with clients’ new uses. A zoom on this revolution for clients’ experience, a strategic axis of the group.

Rédigé par Mathilde Khlat translated by Joséphine Foucher le Mercredi 3 Septembre 2014

Christine Pouletty, Customer Experience Director at Accor - DR
Christine Pouletty, Customer Experience Director at Accor - DR
i-tourism: Why did you get involved in this field, that of digitalized hospitality?

Christine Pouletty: “The goal is to make the client’s overall experience as coherent as possible. We have integrated the before and after departure process for a long time.

But the digital, and more specifically the mobile, have set off new types of behaviors. That is why we launched this project which is a new cornerstone of our strategy.”

i-tourism: What inspired your to rethink the welcoming of clients?

C.P.: “The foundation of such thinking is simple. The competition is getting fiercer at the level of the dematerialization of services, especially in the United States
We then explored clients’ expectations. We had to include new modes of consumerism through the mobile experience.

Today it is part of the way people live, especially when looking at the big players in the traveling world… It was time to go there.

We wanted to take into account the core of the hotelier profession, which is hospitality, to highlight it, and not erase it or stick it in a “black box.”

We were inspired by what exists in the world of transports and services in general.

We have, for example, mixed elements of air travel and also car rentals that are innovating in terms of client digital hospitality, without completely imitating.

We also didn’t want to create check in/out terminals that don’t face the reception, like we see in some anglo-saxon hotels.

The service has to decrease the queue at the reception, by cutting waiting time and honor formalities such as “hello” and “goodbye.”

Cross-over studies of client behavior have revealed that they want to feel cared for, not have any stress concerning their reservation, not waste time when arriving and even less during departure.

The digital offer provides fluidity and saves time, especially for payments. It allows to automatize some operations without, however, losing the human dimension of hospitality.”

i-tourism: What did you emphasize?

C.P.: “How to save our client and receptionist time on services without a big added value? This was our interrogation.

The digitalization of hospitality allows for online check-in. It is not done however to avoid the reception. The key is there for the client and someone has to hand it to him.

The interaction still takes place but it is less dedicated to administrative formalities and thus more attentive to the client’s eventual more qualified questions."

“We envision tomorrow’s experience”

i-tourism: What has the mobile changed?

C.P.: “A new point of contact has emerged with the mobile. We have to rethink and maintain good customer service.

Today, young people use the mobile. Soon, instead of an email, we’ll receive notifications like on Facebook.

Our service allows, upon arrival, to send a message to the client to insure that the stay runs smoothly. This way, the hospitality can be entirely personalized by the hotelier, which makes all the difference for the client.

This also allows to get information on our clients’ desires to personalize as much as possible their stay.”

i-tourism: What are the stakes of a new digitalized hospitality system?

C.P.: “We’re envisioning tomorrow’s trips. We are modernizing, innovating, we’re taking a step ahead. The digitalized assistance has to highlight the heart of this profession.

The world is changing, we have to ride the wave at the right time. The idea is giving more time to the hotelier by automatizing the process without any added value.

The human contact is the future. We wish to envision a warmer welcoming service in hotels, with a receptionist that won’t stay behind the counter with an eye on the screen."

1,000 equipped hotels by the end of 2014

i-tourism: How can we access this service?

C.P.: “Designed in close collaboration with operational teams in hotels, this innovative service is available to clients who have a loyalty card or membership, or who reserve directly with Accor: on the website, brand sites of the group, mobile applications, direct calls to the hotel…”

i-tourism: Did you get feedback after the test phase?

C.P.: “The 18 test hotels that helped us to design this service are satisfied. It is currently being deployed with more than 160 equipped hotels in 20 countries. 1,000 hotels will be equipped by the end of 2014.

The first feedbacks are positive. 93% of clients who used the service want to use it again for their future reservations.

The web and smartphone version were released at the same time so that the client could find the service from any type of mobile support.

More than 45% of clients use the online check-in via their mobile.”

i-tourism: And at the technological level?

C.P.: “Designing the strategy took three months, then there was a development phase in our system. It is a major investment from Accor, that wanted to create a technology that fits with our system.

This tools is compatible with our brand’s different systems, in accordance with the regulations of different countries. It is a massive deployment. We had to include the constraints of all the countries and brands.

Our ambition is that come the end of 2015, almost our entire network be equipped.”

4 steps for a simpler, more personalized hotel reception

- 2 days before staying at the hotel: the client receives an invitation to prepare his check-in online, if he reserved through Accor directly, has a loyalty card, or membership.

- Day of arrival, the client receives a welcome message via SMS, to confirm that his room is ready, the key is available, and provide him with some practical information to simplify his arrival (means of transportation to get to the hotel, parking access codes…)

- At the hotel arrival, the key has been set up for the client and is immediately handed to him without going through the usual administrative formalities. The hotelier can thus dedicate more attention to welcoming the guests and attending to their demands.

- At time of departure, the client is free to leave quickly. The check out only consists of the client returning the key to signal that the room has been freed, without having to wait. The bill is directly emailed to him.

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Tags : mobile

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