Managing customer flow within a hotel can be a challenge, often due to the numerous amenities offered within the establishment. Streamlining processes is essential to ensure customer satisfaction, and today, hotels and spas across the globe are turning to technology to help improve their processes. One tool that has gained popularity – especially in the face of COVID-19 – has been the occupancy control system.
What is an Occupancy Control Tool?
Occupancy control systems allow businesses to track footfall. Using different technologies, businesses can monitor traffic during specific hours, manage bookings, and leverage analytics to improve the customer experience. The Ombori Grid Occupancy Control solution features several tools – a people counter, booking software, and queue management software – that can be used to proactively manage guest occupancy.
A people counter “uses cameras to count people entering and leaving a building without any human intervention. Even if customers can enter or leave through more than one doorway, it automatically counts the total number of people in the building.”
People counters help hotels and spas track footfall at various locations and use data to optimize staffing needs. Here are the most common places hotels use them:
- Lobbies: Hotels can monitor how many people enter and exit throughout the day and gain insight into peak check-in and check-out times.
- Pools: They can understand how many people enter and leave the pool at any time and ensure adequate staffing and amenities (e.g., towels and chairs).
- Restaurants: They can identify peak dining hours and determine whether individuals leave due to extended waiting times or crowds.
- Hallways: They can see when hallways are less crowded and assign staff to clean during those hours.
People counters, including the Ombori Grid People Counter solution, provide the following benefits:
- Increased guest and staff safety: Hotels have been using the Ombori Grid People Counter to meet COVID-19 occupancy rules and ensure everyone’s safety.
- Increased revenue and business efficiency: By gathering and analyzing data, hotels better understand customer behavior and drive sales by improving conversion rates and making informed business decisions.
- Increased customer satisfaction: By anonymously and accurately counting the number of people entering, exiting, and passing by a location in real-time, hotels gain powerful insight into their operations and use this data to increase customer satisfaction.
Hotels rely on reservations to maximize occupancy. Historically, they have used traditional methods via call-in reservation lines. Today, however, more hotels rely on online booking solutions to manage reservations.
An online reservation system, or booking software, “allows customers to book their reservations or appointments online via a company’s website or app instead of over the phone or in person. Depending on the sophistication of the platform, an online reservation system might also permit customers to pay for… services ahead of time.”
When customers can manage their bookings online, they are more likely to engage with the hotel. They can identify additional amenities such as spas and restaurants and make appointments. This engagement allows hotels to increase revenue while improving customer satisfaction.
In addition, the Ombori Grid Appointment Booking software allows hotels to achieve the following results:
- Streamlined booking process: No longer are staff required to manage reservations. Instead, the software manages reservations and eliminates double bookings. Customers enjoy a streamlined process from making the initial reservation to requesting changes, and staff is free to allocate time toward other, customer-focused tasks.
- Reduced customer frustration: The software makes it easy for guests to contact customer service and schedule an appointment or speak with someone to address their needs.
- Increased revenue: By receiving notifications via SMS or text messaging, visitors are less likely to miss a reservation. This also allows businesses to manage cancelations better.
- Improved staffing levels: When more reservations are made, managers can allocate staff accordingly. For example, they can schedule additional front desk help if the number of check-ins increases. Likewise, an increase in check-outs can trigger the need for additional cleaning staff.
Queue Management Software
Queue management software offers modern queueing solutions for hotels and spas. They can leverage virtual queues to improve the customer experience. Instead of checking into a hotel or spa the traditional way – standing in line and visiting with staff – guests can check-in via a digital device ahead of arrival or at a kiosk upon arrival. These software solutions expedite the check-in process and allow customers to start their experience sooner!
Similar to people counters and booking software, queue management systems allow hotels and spas to remain competitive. For example, the Ombori Queue Management solution can be used to do the following:
- Streamline sales: By minimizing the time customers spend waiting in line, hotels and spas can streamline the sales process, including check-in, reservation changes, payment, and check-outs.
- Offer more choices: In today’s digital world, queue management solutions are essential. Virtual check-ins meet the demand of younger generations, enabling hotels to attract more guests.
- Increase guest satisfaction: One of the most common complaints in hotels is wait time; no one wants to wait while on vacation. Queue management software eliminates this problem.
Occupancy Control Solutions and COVID-19
COVID-19 has increased awareness of guest safety within the hospitality industry. As the pandemic subsides and individuals resume traveling, they have different expectations. They expect hotels to have limited capacity to ensure their safety; an expedited, virtual check-in process; and streamlined operations to improve their overall experience. Occupancy control systems can address these needs.
Andreas Meier, general manager of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Andermatt, explains: “Customers don’t expect to queue in hotels. Before [COVID-19], it would [have been] difficult to implement [such a] system ... Now that [the coronavirus] has changed our lives, it has also changed [customer] perceptions.”
In 2020, Meier recognized the challenges his resort would face during and after the pandemic. To combat them, he has relied on the Ombori Grid queue management and pre-booking system. He has leveraged it to ensure customer safety and create a virtual check-in process for the hotel’s spa.
He reports that the system has dramatically improved online reviews of the hotel. A key metric he and industry peers look at is the Global Review Index, an aggregated score that reflects customer reviews across major online travel agencies and review sites.
“Before I [saw] a lot of negative feedback,” he says. “I [saw] a negative impact of 1.3 on the Global Review Index … This went away after we implemented the Ombori solution.”
Selecting the Ombori Grid Occupancy Control Solution
Fortunately, businesses can select from a variety of systems to meet guests’ needs. The Ombori Grid Occupancy Control Solution includes the following features:
- Proactive management: Leveraging the people counter, hotels can track occupancy, proactively manage the customer experience, and increase revenue.
- Configurability: It is highly configurable to meet the needs of different locations. It can be set to activate queuing when maximum occupancy is reached. It can also be used to manage a mix of walk-ins and pre-booked appointments for a completely automated and streamlined workflow.
- Improved customer experience: It has been deployed to assist with COVID-19 occupancy rules, but it can also be used to improve the customer experience for locations with limited capacity. Such sites are able to spread out demand over time to maximize sales and generate revenue while reducing the negative impact of occupancy limits.
By adopting occupancy control solutions, businesses enjoy the following benefits:
- Transparent communication with customers: Customers and visitors do not like to wait in line. When they receive clear communication about a business’s occupancy status, waiting becomes less frustrating.
- Improved staff management: Accurate real-time and historical occupancy data allows businesses to understand who visits their premises and when. They can then adjust their business practices to predict and respond to peaks and troughs in demand.
- Guaranteed legal compliance: Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, many businesses will still have occupancy limits due to insurance requirements and fire codes. They can continue to comply with legal restrictions using these systems.
- Improved customer ratings: Leveraging technology allows businesses to experience higher customer ratings. Because operations are streamlined, customers enjoy a more fluid experience, resulting in more referrals and higher revenue.
Implementing New Tech in the Hospitality Industry
According to research conducted by FinanceOnline, businesses in the hospitality industry that implement new tech solutions can increase online revenue by 135%, reduce guest complaints by 71%, and increase their customer service rating by 19%.
As businesses continue to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild their clientele in a continuously competitive marketplace, tech solutions such as occupancy control tools are more than just a benefit – they are a necessity for any business wanting to thrive.