Hotels of all sizes face a new challenge with interacting with their guests and building a sense of loyalty between them and the hotels. New businesses like AirBnB make the booking experience more fun by keeping it simple in a light-hearted, professional manner. They also allow guests to interact with the hosts of their stay in a more convenient manner: mainly by using the mobile app to create a nearly instantaneous connection with them.
Both are similar, but differ in how they approach the guest experience. Each help prepare the guest for their stay, and followup after the guests have checked out to build some brand loyalty between the individual and the hotel. Both also offer the hotels many opportunities to up-sell to the guests in order to gain more revenue. GuestFolio operates through a private web portal for the hotel, with more of a longterm focus on the guest; CheckMate offers an app to promote immediate interaction between the guest and hotel, but also allows communication by text message and email.
GuestFolio is a suite of applications all tied together under one dashboard. They offer five different applications:
- Guest Profiles
- Transactional Emails
- Mobile Hotel Concierge
- Guest Surveys
The guest profiles are really well done. GuestFolio pulls in guest information from the property management system and attaches that profile to any reservation found under that name automatically. Most property management systems do this already, but with GuestFolio, all guests will have quick access to all future and past reservations pulled in from GuestFolio. That makes it possible for them to refer to a past reservation by its confirmation number in order to receive a folio printout instead of being too broad with their request and having the front desk agents have to search more for the folio. GuestFolio also pulls in their social media profiles to help give you more information about who your guests are before they arrive. This could be extremely useful for smaller boutique hotels which have more flexibility in how they cater their services to their guests.
Property management systems already have the ability to send confirmation emails, pre-arrival letters, and post-stay emails. With GuestFolio, these messages become more flexible in their usage. You can separate your guests in any number of ways and cater your messages to those specific guests’ needs. For example, provide your VIP and corporate guests the WiFi password before they arrive or send guests staying your suites instructions for the jacuzzis, and so forth. The number of options available to build your email rules and templates are nearly endless. It is a very powerful feature when the time is taken to build up the templates and rules for your property. In addition, all the emails are mobile-ready, which increases the engagement level with the guest.
Mobile Hotel Concierge
The concierge options are where guests and hotels will get the most value. Hotels can create options for room upgrades, adding different packages onto the reservation, provide dining information, and more. Guests will be able to view special events at the hotel or the area, making dinner reservations, see what kinds of activities can be done around the hotel, and more. Guests will be able to plan their stay, before they stay at the hotel. It is a very useful feature and guests will love it, as long as the hotel takes the time to make everything as thorough and up-to-date as possible.
Guest surveys are incredibly important for hotels to send out to their guests. GuestFolio makes this very easy for hotels to do, with the added bonus of including the survey responses on TripAdvisor automatically, which helps boost your ratings on the site. The surveys can be as detailed or as simple as you would, with options appearing depending on how they fill out the survey (i.e. they only see the options to respond about the restaurant if they selected that they ate there.) Hotels can receive survey responses as they happen or in a digest form on a weekly/monthly basis. GuestFolio also keeps track of your survey responses in the dashboard so you can keep tabs on how well your hotel is performing.
Having all that information about your guests becomes very useful when you start working with the newsletter section of GuestFolio. You divide up your guests in any way you like to tailor your message to them directly. Send locals within your state or province a special deal, or send a specialized thank you note to your more regular guests who have stayed more than five times in a year, or send a thank you message in another language for guests from a particular country. GuestFolio also has a great design tool, Studio, which was designed for the hospitality industry specifically.
On the GuestFolio website, you can see examples of the dashboard, and samples of the various emails being sent out from other hotels around the world.
CheckMate is designed to be more useful in the days prior to the arrival date and used during the stay. It is a dashboard to allow communication between the guest and Front Desk agent via email, text message, or the CheckMate app. For Front Desk agents, they communicate through the web under individual profiles.
Similar to GuestFolio, CheckMate also pulls in the social data from other sites to build a more complex guest profile, helping the Front Desk discover specific needs and VIPs before their arrival at the hotel. It also helps the guests choose room upgrades and other services at the hotel through special offers. They also get to decide the primary method of communication with the hotel easily to keep the message thread in one location, not bouncing between email and the app to find a particular message.
CheckMate has simplified their survey system to make the interaction faster and smoother, similar to the five star system used by Uber for their taxi service. Some properties may find that more useful than GuestFolio’s more extensive survey system. One feature with surveys that is a default is all guests receive a short survey the day after they check-in to ensure everything is going well. This helps put out a fire before things flare up and the guest leaves a negative review on TripAdvisor. One key difference between CheckMate and GuestFolio is that CheckMate does not seem to have the same interaction with TripAdvisor that GuestFolio offers. TripAdvisor reviews can be pulled in to help build a guest profile, but survey responses are not shared to TripAdvisor.
Both systems are solid in their integration with a hotel’s property management system with dozens of partners working with them. GuestFolio is more for power users who like being able to segment their hotel to smaller numbers of people to help their overall marketing strategy. CheckMate is a simpler system to help strengthen the relationship between the guests and front desk. Both are valuable systems to have and I would encourage everyone to reach out to watch a live demo of each of them in action to see what the systems offer.
Images taken from GuestFolio and CheckMate's websites.