As of the moment, several countries have started to reopen as we all slowly recover from Covid19. As the travel industry shifts and starts working toward a rebound the world of travel will change forever.  As we write this there had been a 65.1% reduction of scheduled flights worldwide last June 2020 in comparison to June 2019.

Airlines and anyone in the travel space are having to scramble and rethink new ways to meet the increase in passenger demands. On top of this, airports are also finding new options to give their fliers the assurance that their facilities are safe to visit and use. So apart from requiring employees/passengers to wear masks and maintain social distancing, airlines are now pressured to adapt to the new normal by shifting to more modern solutions.

Terence Young, a principal and regional aviation leader at architecture firm Gensler said, “Cleanliness and communication are key.” As they reinvent new ways to promote both safety and consistent communication, there are several ways that this new normal will change airline procedures along with our recommended solutions.

  1. Required Temperature Checks pre-flight (and or post!)
    • Air Canada is one of the first few airlines who now mandatorily conduct temperature check pre-flight. This worked well with their ‘Clean Care’ program as they included health questionnaires for fliers to fill out.

Recommendation: Contactless Temperature Sensing and Mask Detection Kiosks can help reduce face-to-face interactions. This would help give assurance to your travelers while reducing the risk for frontline employees as well. Running a thermal test would guarantee that only those who are fit to fly can enter the premise and that you are not putting anyone else at risk by missing to scan one ill passenger. Products like OmniTemp can be easily integrated with the airline’s current platform for easy monitoring, alerts and reporting. Solutions are also available to integrate to existing kiosks.

  1. Intensified Social Distancing Protocols
    • Maintaining social distancing is one of the protocols that’s mandated by the government. It can easily be observed as of the moment as there are not many travelers yet. But how will airlines cope with this rule once the travelers go back? Widening and renovating the productions space is one of the options but would require a bagful of budget to proceed.

Recommendation: Some airlines have started to use floor markings to give enough personal space to each traveler based on the available floor area. Implementation of floor arrows designating the foot traffic flow will also be seen to help guide the travelers and lessen the need to ask airport personnel basic mapping questions. Some airports like Orlando International Airport have also promoted the use of acrylic shields on common areas such as restaurants, ticket lobbies and retail counters.  We are working with airports to help them utilize mobile to track users and provide heat mapping to show areas for travelers to avoid or better ways to manage traffic flow.

  1. Push notifications for Airline changes and Boarding times
    • Since Social distancing has to be observed at all times, John Holland-Kaye of Heathrow actually said, “Just one jumbo jet would require a queue a kilometer long.” True enough, this will put the travelers on a very exhausting line marking a very unsatisfactory customer experience! Through a good mobile solution, you can notify or text your travelers about changes on their flight details like gates or boarding times once they are within a certain perimeter.

Recommendation: Since there had been an enormous increase in mobile app usage, its effective and easier than ever to implement solutions to provide personalized touchless experience for your travelers. Geofencing options or can notify users of information, changes in location or business times , according to one of  New York Times’ report. There are different mobile solutions that you can go for. Native apps are the most common one but the emerging efficiency of using Progressive Web apps  provide the same functionality for your travelers without the hassle of having to download the heavy, traditional apps via Play store. Mobile notifications and new features with traveler login, can drive more personalized approaches to service.

Airports are going to transform and some of the tools above will be key to ensure they become transportation hubs not just air but all points of travel.   To do this effectively local and travel information needs to be readily available and airports must embrace the omnichannel.  Providing seamless mobile solutions, interactive kiosks and more relevant digital signage is core to setting the stage for this transformation.   If you would like to learn more, see some of our projects and how we are transforming airport engagement email or call us for a touchless solution and safety focused engagement @ OmniExperience at 833-300-6664 or email [email protected]

Overview
In multi-department companies, there’s clearly about multiple, if not, dozens of tools or platform that’s being used in different departments. The collection of these applications that complement the platform is called Technology Ecosystem. One of the benefits of using this ecosystem is that these apps are expected to integrate to and from each other. This ecosystem is anticipated to solve the overall need of the company while expanding the system use.

The Challenge
Since there had been overwhelming rise of applications to choose from, it has been a challenge for some organizations to choose the one that works best depending on their industry and market’s needs. Although innovation is something we always look forward to, this also creates another challenge – the rise of data silos. Some organizations don’t have time to validate these new technologies so this would be quite challenging for several industries like the construction industry, F&B, etc.

How to build your own technology ecosystem with limited resources?
Since acquiring several different technologies are essential in order to run different functioning departments, then there will be a struggle to:

  1. Take time to learn thoroughly the functionality of the new apps
  2. Financially allocate apps that fit your current budget

Here’s our recommended solutions in order to get your ideal tech ecosystem:

  1. Since everything works on mobile, nowadays, might as well look for tools that works with any type of mobile device. Look for open-APIs that are flexible and scalable for your organization.
  2. Set your goals and look for tools and new technologies that would help you reach your goal. For example, if you are aiming to get travelers or guests back by driving preventive COVID19 solutions then go for tools that can help you drive assurance. You can easily implement touchless and contactless technology that can integrate with your existing systems.
  3. Make advantage of free trials to see if the features are working well for your organization. You will then be able to compare which one is more user-friendly, efficient and budget-friendly too!
  4. Read through testimonials and see which are highly recommended that’s from the same industry as yours. Get connected and see if their experience is legitimate and know what their current struggles are.

When looking at ecosystems there is a lot to learn, at Omni we provide new ways tools and options for extending to any device and ensuring the right content and information is available.   If you are looking at ways to connect your systems to a more frictionless experience reach out and we can show you some options and projects that can help you move forward. You can reach us by calling 833-300-6664 or sending us an email @ [email protected]

As we all return to this new normal, we now have stringent priorities and considerations before setting foot into any location. This applies to everyone at this point: workers, students, travelers, and even homemakers.

Travel and Hotel Bookings

While restrictions are being lifted on different travel destinations, and tourists become more eager to explore.  We all crave the things that connect us to locations and places we love.  So how can we as marketers, tour operators, event holders or people in travel space focus on the key things that will help us connect but also provide new ways for contactless engagement

Expedia conducted research, and it shows that 9 out of 10 travelers will base their decisions on a destination’s health and hygienic protocols.

To avoid any possible transfer of disease, we start to highly consider contactless transactions.

  • For travelers, contactless visitor sign-in and check-in are now essential. Mobile applications and progressive web apps are the most sought-after solutions relevant to this need. Consumers can now freely check-in pre-arrival, giving them the luxury to sign up from the comfort of their own phones and providing new ways to access facilities.
  • Destinations and hotels have also introduced Staff-to-guest chat. This feature is highly utilized by hotels as it allows their staff to respond timely to guest’s inquiries and requests through text message and video conference. No need to request manually at the front desk or call-in for assistance.
  • Digital room keys or Mobile Keys are also made available to provide convenience in entering or leaving their respective rooms. With integrated hotel apps, guests can simply tap their mobile phones with the help of Bluetooth or NFC integrations.

Things are happening so fast leaving the hotel and travel industry in a rush to make quick decisions about getting touchless technology. ‘Seamless’ is good but now, ‘Contactless’ makes a lot more sense to travelers, especially when it comes to safety and security.

What do Travel industry and Hoteliers get out of this technology?

  1. Improves Guest and Visitor satisfaction and Ratings – the rise of contactless technology has definitely given guests the power to control their stay and distance themselves as much as possible. Mobile Apps and PWAs are on demand communication devices. Simform’s most recent research shows that about 204 billion apps were downloaded in 2019. Providing easy ways to engage and rate and review in mobile will help you fine tune services.
  2. Increase Staff efficiency – Contactless technology has definitely boosted staff proficiency since basic tasks like guest check-in are now completed by the guests ahead of time. This allows staff to keep up with their workflow and pursue other tasks like answering calls, etc. This also reduces any potential risky in-person contact, protecting both guests and staff.

Tips for a Better Contactless Experience in Hotels and Travel Destinations

  1. Provide your guests or travelers important links ahead of time – this include check in details or map details/wayfinding.
  2. Provide essential Safety instructions – ensure to send pre-arrival safety instructions especially to travelers who have special needs, kids or senior citizens.
  3. Internally conduct Upskill trainings for your staff and associate so they can lead the way for your visitors. By providing them appropriate tools, they can assist and respond to your guest’s need comfortably and confidently.

Retail

As with all industries retail is going through huge transformations, between online and brick and mortar options and services.  As stores begin to reopen, what are the measures taken by retailers to consistently provide quality services with less-to-no physical contact?

  • e-Commerce. This has been going on for years but since everything has been fast-tracked, retailers now have to consider additional contactless options for the safety of both customers and staff.
    • Customers are able to place their orders in the comfort of their home and browse through the retailer’s site/catalog. Checkout options are completed online, and the goods get delivered right into your doorsteps.
    • Provide easy ways to use mobile while shopping in store, this helps all customers and even older customers to look at ways to use coupons etc. so they can start to take advantage of ease of use and ways to decrease human contact.
  • Curbside Pickup. Consumers can now browse through a retailer’s site and place their orders online while picking up their orders in the store’s parking lot. This allow more automated solution and provides some human contact.  The key is to train and arm your staff with ways to engage and use technology to help that person picking up.
  • Check-out Free. A simple process of walking in and out of the store without having to interact with cashiers, whatsoever. Consumers can now browse through in-store items and check item availability through their mobile phones by simply scanning QR Codes. Consumers can pick their items, bag the products themselves, and pay electronically before they head out to exit.

While there are tons of options for mobile online payments, here are some Integrations with contactless payment facilities that make in-store ordering easy and convenient. Some of the well-known options are Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Braintree, and more.   If you are looking at new ways to implement contactless solutions, feel free to reach out we have a 5 step process that can help you identify solutions that are easy to implement inside of your current investments and products.

How Retailers Benefit out of this new Contactless Technology?

  1. Better Customer information –Retailers will be able to capture exact records along with basic information such as name, address, purchases and preferred payment methods. Mass marketing will no longer work during the new normal due to different preferences and in this case, retailers will be able to learn more about what they want, when they want it. In relation to this, the second one would be:
  2. Know What your Customers Current Preferences – Due to contactless shopping and the rise of mobile and eCommerce, customer’s information is freely stored in the retailer’s database. This allows retailers to provide custom experience every time they shop back. The ability of the retailer to provide coupons and discounts relevant to their shopping history will totally be a game changer. This touch extending your customer relationship and promotes your brand across current and potential customers.
  3. Drive More Revenue – Retailers can utilize new tools and software through repurposed staff and use this to empower customer’s safety while shopping. With the increase usage of online shopping, definitely investing on tools that can simplify transactions and provide customers the assurance to shop back are top priorities on the retail side.

Tips for a Better Contactless Experience in the Retail Industry

  1. Inventory Transparency and Agility – allow your customers to see real-time availability of your products to avoid misleading. This also helps your team to fulfill orders in a timely manner without having to worry about shortage on supply, etc.
  2. Offer contactless options for returns – This is a common issue that retailers face on a daily basis but letting your customer return items and proceed with contactless refunds would be an efficient option. Curbside pickup or drop-off can be a good option in this category.
  3. Open Online feedback channels to mitigate unsatisfactory experiences and improve any current solution that does not work well with customers of different age, tech savviness, etc.

If you are looking for additional information on how to implement some of these tools even through your existing products and investments send us an email at [email protected] or call us at 833-300-6664.  We will be happy to share and provide you pricing and information to help you make the best decision for your organization.

Doug Ralston
President and CEO
OmniExperience
[email protected]

The Challenge

How do we elevate our services when people have less, to no means of an actual in-person interaction?   A great question most of us have or will have to deal with as hotels around the world begin to open up.   Maybe a better way of putting it is how can we enhance guest experience through the devices our guests are already using, and most prefer to use over calling or direct human interaction.

It’s not mystery that hotel concierge and guest services will change forever, and although we are not locked in to any particular channel, here are some things to consider as you look forward mobile and interactive solutions.

Mobile Hotel Concierge

75% of your guests are using their phone for communication, with technology you can connect and drive an overall better experience and understanding of your guest.   Utilizing a hotel’s mobile app is not an issue to any traveler as long as internet access is available and there is value or reason to download.   (Note new technology is available to avoid app store downloads)

Here is quick list on key features:

  • Mobile Check-in and Checkout – Let your guests check-in prior to arrival and get notification when the room is ready.
  • Mobile Key – Allow easy access to your room by simply tapping your phone. Bluetooth and NFC integration for a more handy and flexible option.
  • Butler services – allow your guests to text for services, look at things like AI or chatbots to reduce actual human responses and provide 24×7 concierge at their fingertips
  • Staff to guest video conference – no need to wait at the front desk to get someone to assist you. Chat with them one on one from anywhere in the hotel.
  • Mapping – hotel and in destination for easy navigation, step by step or driving directions.
  • Local information- Things to do and Restaurants, with built in recommendations, coupons and offers, provide an instant high level of convenience and savings

Mobile, Changing the Way we Live

Mobile commerce daily created a poll to test how mobile concierge can be used 46 percent of travelers would happily use a mobile concierge service with requests such as restaurant reservations (62 percent), directions (51 percent) and tickets to tourist attractions (48 percent). This survey says so much about how we utilize our mobile devices during vacation. It is important that we consider these kinds of statistics when implementing new options for our businesses, especially hotels.

Mobile service is definitely changing the way people explore, travel and relive good experiences.  It’s not as complicated as you think to utilize existing mobile technology or introduce new mobile tech to drive more convivence, safety and personalization.  (Some bonus information below from hospitality.net)

Give guests answers before they ask

With a strategic selection of content and user-friendly navigation, hotels can answer many guest questions directly in their hotel app. Guests can see restaurant and room service menus, photos, schedules, and information for other hotel amenities, and then make reservations and place orders themselves. You can also provide information for local partners like shopping, tourism, and entertainment destinations outside the hotel.

Drive additional revenue

A mobile concierge can also be a powerful marketing tool. It gives hotels a platform to tailor promotions and offers with a much higher probability of engagement because you often have actionable customer information, like a history of guests’ mobile app activity and purchases.

Increase productivity

A variety of reporting functions are typically available within mobile concierge solutions to monitor how quickly staff responds, among other efficiency metrics. Comparing this data to guest service feedback brings more dimension to your appraisal of staff performance and helps to improve your systems and processes.

Reduce human error

The best of employees makes mistakes now and then. This technology virtually eliminates any chance of guest requests falling through the cracks. If requests aren’t completed within a given time, many mobile concierge apps have a system of escalating unfulfilled requests up the management chain to ensure someone handles it (and before guests have a chance to complain).

Spend more time with guests

Giving hotel guests the ability to use a mobile concierge solution empowers your concierge staff to be even better in their jobs. When simple concierge requests are handled by a mobile app, the hotel staff can spend more time with nuanced guest services where their personal touch is a clear added value.

Cultivate a brand dedicated to the guest experience

Guests expect and prefer hotels to offer the latest in technological convenience. It adds to your property’s positioning as savvy, up-to-date, and dedicated to improving your guests’ experience. This is especially true with younger travelers, who are only beginning to show their profit potential in the industry.

Getting Your Hotel’s Mobile Concierge Started

Luckily, a hotel does not need to be a large, luxury property to access and implement mobile concierge solutions. There are a few approaches to setting it up, with options to fit different budgets, objectives, and existing resources.

For example, if you already have a hotel mobile app, the first step is asking the developers of your current app if they can add concierge functions. If so, you can give them your mobile concierge capability wish list. You’ll want to work with them to ensure the front end is easy for guests to use and the back end provides efficient workflows for your staff.

For hotels that either don’t yet have a mobile app or can’t easily develop concierge functions within their existing app, there are multiple third-party solutions that are ready to deploy. These solutions offer a range of concierge capabilities, typically integrate with most PMS systems, and are often less expensive.

With all the advantages for guests and hotels that a mobile concierge app can add, the only question remaining is how quickly you can deploy yours. Offering both traditional and mobile concierge options can elevate the personalized service that the concierge team strives to provide, improving the overall hotel experience for your guests.

If you want to know more about OmniExperience’s mobile hotel concierge option, call us at 833-300-6664 or email us at [email protected]

We are very excited to continue to work with thought leaders and organizations looking to implement ideas and tools that can help in the core pillars of Sustainability. What we have learned is that destinations have an opportunity to lead in this cause, and are also expected to be responsible for driving tourism dollars. The key is that DMO’s can use technology and other tools to drive revenue while looking at options for directing visitors, awareness and ways to lessen the impact on locals and destination natural resources.

To do our part in this sustainable and engagement path of all our organizations, I wanted to layout some products and programs that may be helpful during this time, and set the stage as travelers return. The core of this is to tie together the 3 Pillars of Sustainability, 6 Major Advantages of Sustainability and look at some ways to measure this impact.

Three pillars: Economy, Society, and the Environment. These principles are also informally used as profit, people and planet.

Six major advantages for practicing sustainability are: 

  • Improved brand image and competitive advantage
  • Increase productivity and reduce costs
  • Increase business ability to comply with regulation
  • Attract employees and investors
  • Reduce waste
  • Make shareholders happy.

Sustainability is measured by assessing performance of Social, Environmental, and Economic principles.

We have 2 key states that we can use as learning opportunities and also as a starting off point to help us all realize new areas or opportunities. This is for organizations, technologists, DMOs, and overall business leaders who are concerned with all types of impact.

Hawaii:  Big Sustainability challenges from our project perspective.

  • Controlling flow of visitors into popular attractions, the negatively impacted locals
  • Visitors not paying attention or following outdoor regulations and ways of experiencing destination
  • Visitors not understanding the culture and thus interacting in offensive ways with locals
  • Finding ways to decrease paper and plastic consumption, anything to help keep beaches and attractions cleaner

What we did and learned:

  • Implemented mobile and kiosk touchpoints
  • Providing suggestions and Itineraries that allowed people to learn about other great areas to visit
  • Provided mobile gamification to award people for visiting Warrior Marker locations, driving new experiences for travelers while relieving popular areas
  • Provide videos and content to educate travelers on culture and the people at these locations, down to how to great and engage with them
  • Provide Kiosks at high traffic areas, that allow visitors to connect with local business, interactive mapping, coupons and other key areas that can be shared via mobile

Louisiana:  Automation, Better Data and ways to evolve from paper brochures

  • Key was updating and automating visitor centers
  • New ways to engage and share local events and information from highways to local attractions
  • New ways to serve the next generation of traveler, moving to more digital foot print
  • Extending out Byways and local information, while driving advertising and revenue opportunities
  • New ways to reduce paper and ultimately look at a phased approach to reduce or eliminate brochures

What we did and learned:

  • Integrated digital signage, video walls to expand reach of brand image and advertising campaigns
  • Integrated interactive Kiosks to allow visitors to get to local listing, interactive maps, preset itineraries and more
  • Provided easy email, text share for any local event or attraction and easy to follow directions to their phone
  • Mobile app, connecting all services and information from each visitor center, allowing direct connection between suggestions and information reviewed at the visitor center with easy to access itineraries and suggestion direct form their mobile device
  • Phase II digitize brochures, for easy flip through and touch experiences, provide ways for vendors to manage information that goes directly to visitors
  • We can track better who is coming in the VIC and understand their needs, while providing real time information to stakeholders on who has inquired about their business

The bottom line is we love what we do and using technology to solve sustainability and local issues is a key part of how we identify our value to our customers. It’s interesting how many of these ideas are generated from customers who have a problem to solve and know they need to find new ways to connect and show how their organization is helping on many issues.

A special thanks to DI and their team, who has allowed us to continue to share and build our solutions to help align with the needs and research they provide to us all. Please feel free to reach out we would love to work with you and see how we complement your existing investments into a well-rounded omnichannel solution.


Doug Ralston
President and CEO
OmniExperience
[email protected]