Merchant: Lanesborough Hotel
Location: London, England
Vendor: Crave Interactive
Bottom Line: Mobile guest engagement tools are helping businesses in the hospitality industry attract customers with high-end tastes.
As the Lanesborough began what would become a 19-month, multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2014, the boutique hotel’s executives started looking for strategic ways to appeal to guests with luxury tastes. To go along with the newly renovated rooms, which reopened in July, the team decided to add a technology component that would be unlike anything travelers had ever experienced.
What they came up with was this: An in-room tablet that guests can use to order room service, check in or out, communicate with staff, and view digital directories with menus and local business information. These tablets include a call function for the Lanesborough’s personal butler service, along with the ability to download local or international newspapers. Guests also have the option to download an iOS application that mirrors those in-room tablets on their own mobile devices, making it possible to order room service or spa treatments from outside the hotel.
“Once it was made public that the Lanesborough would be undergoing a refurbishment, we were approached by various service providers, or vendors, with a range of different solutions,” says Daniel Jordaan, the hotel’s head butler.
To bring those ideas to life, the hotel worked with Crave Interactive. Crave stood out from other vendors competing to bring mobile technology into the Lanesborough’s guest rooms and suites by offering to develop a custom user interface based on the hotel’s specifications.
“We provided Crave with an exhaustive wish list and Crave said ‘yes’ to everything we had asked for,” Jordaan says. “Competing vendors had pre-programmed user interfaces and could not easily adapt their software to our requirements.”
The Lanesborough had already developed eight “tech-centered” systems into each guest room, and the hotel’s executives were looking for a partner that could integrate those systems.
“The guidelines were to create a product that would be effortless to use, yet be advanced enough to appeal to the new generation of IT enthusiasts,” Jordaan said.
The Lanesborough’s new tablet-based guest engagement system replaces printed hotel information and directory binders. “We have done away with all printed information, and apart from saving on operating costs, we are also positively adding to our CSR [corporate social responsibility] by using much less paper and as a result, increasing our share of ethical consumerism,” Jordaan says.
Although the Lanesborough’s in-room tablets have the capability to integrate advertising into local directories and menu listing — the tablets already feature “unique London recommendations” from the hotel’s concierge, which can be updated at any time — Jordaan says adding advertising on a larger scale would take away from the luxury effect that the hotel’s executives are going for.
“The ambiance is residential and we would not want it to become a billboard,” he says.
Moving forward, the Lanesborough’s executives are continuing to work with Crave’s research team in order to keep in line with new hospitality trends.
“The Lanesborough trusts in the practice of Kaizen — a Japanese corporate approach of continuous improvement — and for that reason, we are always looking for progressive ways to enhance our guests’ experience,” Jordaan says. “I believe that we have succeeded, [but] the ongoing test would be to keep innovating, as the lifespan of anything technology-related is short-lived.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.