News Feature | August 29, 2014

The Ritz-Carlton Fine-Tunes App To Guide Consumer Experience

Source: Hospitality Leader Online
Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

New App Aims to Improve Customer Experiences

The Ritz-Carleton is jumping on the mobile app bandwagon.

Ritz-Carlton is rolling out mobile poolside ordering, mobile room service, app-based service requests (replacing that toothbrush you accidentally discarded, the extra washcloth, soaps, shoeshine touch-up you need before dinner), real-time device-agnostic folio review, mobile check-in, mobile check-out, and a nifty little “sharing the experience/sharing the memories” feature.

The updated app aims to cover the entire consumer experience, from check-in to check-out. An effective mobile strategy is crucial for both generating bookings and creating a fulfilling guest experience. The app is available on Google Play and the Apple app Store.

“One of the best aspects of the app is that it truly has the ability to become a part of a guest’s total travel experience,” said Christoph Heyn, director of mobile and digital guest experience at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Chevy Chase, MD. “It starts with the pre-arrival email that includes a link to check-in 24 hours before a reservation, followed by a SMS that alerts the guest when their room is ready.

“All of this enhances their experience before even stepping foot into the hotel,” he said.

“We’re giving our guests a platform to be in control of their hotel experience by using their smartphone to do every-day travel activities, such as food and beverage ordering, which is exactly what all savvy travelers rely on today. These mobility offerings provide an additional level of comfort and convenience to a Ritz-Carlton stay.”

One unique aspect of the Ritz-Carlton app is that, rather than being oriented on transactions, it offers guests a chance to build and share memories.  With Shareable Experience, guests can modify and enhance their travel photos with digital stamps, titles, and filters (specific to the particular property and geographic location) to create retro travel posters to share via social media or save as digital souvenirs.

Photos can be uploaded to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and must include the hashtag for the brand to recognize it. The Ritz-Carlton consistently generates strong social media interaction, and as the #RCMemories hashtag becomes more well known, it is likely that its social activity will only increase

The app also provides mobile check-in at the Ritz-Carlton, beginning with providing the guest with a personalized one-click link the day before arrival.  Guests simply enter their anticipated arrival time and phone number, and at the appropriate time they receive an SMS message to confirm that the room is ready, at which point guests go to “mobile check-in” to pick up their keys. No further registration needed unless required by law and no additional credit card swipe.

As Ed French, Ritz-Carlton’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, says, “Now when you check in on mobile, the arrival experience is focused on conversation about your trip purpose as we hand you your key, not you watching our keystrokes.”

The app also allows guests to place orders poolside, without having to actually get up and go to the bar. Service requests such as a shoeshine, turndown service or more fresh towels can be made through the app. Guests can also access exclusive local content and offers and order food and beverages at select hotels.

Hotel reviews, events calendars, photo galleries and other multimedia content can be accessed as well. More basic functions include locating hotel information, booking reservations, contacting personnel, receiving messages about stays and more.

In addition, the app lets guests access their loyalty points and view the state of the #RCMemories campaign.

Ed French stated, ”Our vision is to bring our legendary personalized service experience to our guests through their smartphones – not to replace our services with the smartphone.”