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INTELITY CEO Robert Stevenson interviewed THE GEORGE Director of Operations Kerrie Hunter about her property’s experience during and after the COVID window—and how technology has played an essential role in their success. During the conversation, they covered everything from what the property’s shutdown was like to how they protect staff and encourage guests to choose contactless service. Here are a few of the insights she shared:

1. Even if the emphasis on contactless fades in time, mobile hospitality is here to stay.

Any way to cut expenses is good, any way to move into the new wave of the future is great. Computers aren’t going away. Cell phones aren’t going away…This will just be a thing: you don’t use hotel key cards anymore, you use your phone—just like you use your phone for everything else.

— Kerrie Hunter, Director of Operations, THE GEORGE

At some point, guests are going to be able to stand at the front desk and talk to the concierge again. But that may not be for a while, especially as vaccine timelines are repeatedly pushed back. Until then, hotels need a way to easily circumvent or eliminate normal touchpoints.

For THE GEORGE, the transition between normal and contactless service went quickly. They already had a mobile app and in-room tablets for guest convenience. Now, the technology is their first line of service—keeping guests and staff separate to ensure everyone stays safe.

Guests get a call after they book, giving them a quick explanation of the new normal and directing them to the technology they can use to access better, safer service. According to Hunter, the response has been overwhelming—largely, she believes, due to the fact that contactless hospitality isn’t just a safety measure; it’s also just more convenient.

That’s why she believes the technology will never go out of use. In a mobile-everything world, travelers are unlikely to go back to traditional experiences if they know they can use their phone instead.

2. Hospitality technology is actually a huge cost-saver for the property, not a drain on resources.

Especially during these times, the last thing I want to do is purchase things I don’t absolutely need because I don’t have a full hotel. I don’t have expendable cash floating around for things like new key cards.

— Kerrie Hunter, Director of Operations, THE GEORGE

Getting guests to adopt technology isn’t just an option for THE GEORGE, it’s the option. As Hunter puts it, this is a critical way their hotel saves on costs. With nearly every guest downloading the app, entering with a digital key, and using the room’s tablet to submit digital requests, overhead is reduced in several significant and sometimes unexpected ways.

The first is the cost of key cards. While not the most glamorous expense cut, it’s made a difference at THE GEORGE. And as INTELITY CEO Robert Stevenson shared during the webinar, they’re actually not the only property that sees it as a major win. One brand that uses the INTELITY platform recently decided to add mobile check-in and mobile key to their tech stack after guests simply stopped returning room keys when they left and keycard costs spiked.

But most importantly, technology allows THE GEORGE to both save valuable staff time—redirecting time spent previously on administrative tasks to guest service—while also reducing the number of staff necessary to run the hotel. A specific scenario comes to mind. If only one person is checking in during the night and Hunter knows they’ve downloaded the app and will be able to use a mobile key to access the property, she doesn’t have to schedule someone for the overnight shift. This cost-saver, being able to deliver an excellent experience for guests with a lean staff, is a huge part of what makes the platform irreplaceable for THE GEORGE.

Overall, the property’s philosophy is, “If we don’t need it, we don’t have it.” But the INTELITY platform was an easy investment choice, and one they feel has paid off. “We definitely get our money’s worth,” says Hunter.

3. Pivoting to contactless service puts hotels in the perfect place to thrive—whether COVID ends tomorrow or continues to challenge hoteliers in the months to come.

Like the stats show, we use it every day. Our guests use it every day. I’ve actually had other hotels in the area call and ask us, ‘We heard you guys have this. What’s it all about? We need to get this.

— Kerrie Hunter, Director of Operations, THE GEORGE

Guests are looking for hotels to guide them as they start traveling again. In Hunter’s experience, travelers haven’t been offended or put off by safety measures and technology. Sure, there are older guests who struggle to adapt every once in a while, but “the overwhelming majority of people just say, ‘Tell me what to do,’” she shares. If anything, satisfaction rates have risen, with travelers excited about the measures in place.

And it’s not just guests who are taking note of the technology now available. Other properties in the area have been impressed with the contactless guest experience THE GEORGE is providing, and inquiring as to how they might be able to implement a similar strategy themselves.

Even on a normal day, guests “find that [using technology] is faster than having to dial the front desk, be put on hold, and wait for somebody to get to them. It’s pretty seamless,” explains Hunter. “Most of the guests are surprised at how quickly it gets to them and they receive whatever they’re asking for.” There’s no more popping down to the desk to ask for more towels; now, guests can request them from a smartphone or tablet from their bed in just a few clicks.

With COVID a factor in 2020, creating a contactless guest experience has played a pivotal role in keeping THE GEORGE open and running smoothly, while reducing risk for guests and staff alike. Beyond COVID, it’ll continue to simplify staff tasks and facilitate truly exceptional service.



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