Privacy when they want it, service when they need it

When was the last time you had to “hunt down” a server in a retail store, a restaurant or other service environment? Yesterday? Last week? Last month?

Consider a guest while on vacation or after a day of meetings. Suppose this guest decides to relax near the pool or perhaps at the hotel’s secluded patio space. This tactic may ensure privacy, but it also means no servers will be in sight. Normally, if he or she wanted a drink or some chow, they’d either have to wait for a staff member to amble by or get up and wave one down.

Now consider the reverse scenario. A guest plucks down in the restaurant or lounge and the patrolling waitstaff checks in every five minutes. I mean, they just won’t leave the guest alone! Frankly, it’s getting annoying.

One of the trickiest aspects to mastering guest service is finding the golden mean between neglect and obtrusiveness. We all know it’s not physically or fiscally possible to keep staff members on watch in every nook and cranny of your property, but now, however, there appears to be a thrifty solution in the works that is wholly entwined with the rise of mobile technology.

One company spearheading this innovation is ServiceGem. In a nutshell, ServiceGem functions as a “virtual” staff-paging system that guests can access via their cell phones. Based in San Diego, the company is presently using the Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa as the beta tester prior to launch nationwide. Via signage, ServiceGem emulates an airplane overhead call button that first tells the flight attendant you need assistance and, second, the precise location where you are. There will be a display sign at your patio location listing a telephone number, text number and QR code. Plugging any of the three into your cell phone informs a server of your exact location on the property so they can come and promptly take your order.

Another lucrative advantage of this mobile-centric service solution and its real-time reporting package is its ability to heighten team accountability and allow operators to staff more efficiently. Installing a mobile request system for even one or two out-of-the-way hotspots can increase your staff coverage and thus heighten perceived service levels and guest satisfaction.

As for the feedback from the Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa, managers have noted better guest service levels and enhanced guest satisfaction, and servers are receiving better tips!

As a hotelier, the fine line between helpful levels of service and annoying guests has always been conundrum. This nifty trick appears to be a viable solution and a natural extension of the on-demand mobile service revolution that has already permeated many other industries. Just some more electronic food for thought.