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Small touches make big difference to hotel guests

LITTLE THINGS THAT MATTER: A Grand Park Orchard employee with one of the smartphones installed in all rooms that allow guests to make unlimited international and local calls for free. Hotels are adopting new technologies to raise service levels.


    Jan 20, 2015

    Small touches make big difference to hotel guests

    GUESTS at Grand Park Orchard Hotel can make unlimited local and international calls to 27 countries for free with the smartphones installed in all 308 rooms.

    At Bay Hotel in Telok Blangah, guests can check in using their mobile device, by sending a code to the hotel via SMS. Upon their arrival, staff carrying handheld tablets will meet them for registration.

    Small touches that lead to big leaps in visitor satisfaction, such as the above, are what travellers increasingly expect from hotels.

    A Singapore study done last year found that most travellers appreciate hassle-free check-in and check-out, and use the Internet to plan their trips.

    Regular guests also expect hotel staff to remember their personal preferences, it added.

    The Singapore Tourism Board (STB), which did the study, said the results underlined the need for hotels to go beyond their usual operating model to offer personalised and customised touches.

    Ong Huey Hong, STB's director of hotels and sector manpower, said that the study - which involved 10 large and medium-sized hotels and 61 guests - was timely, given the fast-growing markets in the region which are gunning for a slice of the tourism pie. These markets include Thailand and Myanmar.

    The study also comes amid industry concerns here that the tight labour market has compromised service levels.

    Customers were less satisfied with hotels last year compared with 2013, according to the Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore survey results released in November. Hotels saw their score drop 10.4 per cent to 69.4 points, their poorest performance since 2009.

    But some hotels have stepped up to the challenge.

    Bay Hotel's mobile check-in has cut the average waiting time from six minutes to just a minute.

    "(Staff) are able to register the guest while walking to the lift, or even in the lift or their rooms (using the tablets). In this case, guests don't have to proceed to the front desk," said its rooms division manager, Nigel Vsandh.

    At Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore, guests are provided with mobile charging stations, water and tea at its lobby, and takeaway boxes at its buffet breakfast.

    Meanwhile, Fairmont Singapore and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport have streamlined housekeeping processes to ensure rooms are cleaned faster and guests do not have to wait long.

    But providing good service comes at a hefty price sometimes.

    The Park Hotel Group invested nearly $300,000 in Grand Park Orchard's free smartphone service, dubbed the "handy", which includes unlimited 3G data and a built-in city guide.

    "The hotel absorbs the cost... as we see it as hugely beneficial to enhancing the guest experience," said Tan Shin Hui, the group's executive director and head of marketing communications.

    "Increased guest satisfaction would lead to positive reviews and more return guests."