What a year 2020 has been! The spring of 2020 was barely over before the hotel industry, our industry, was hit by the Covid-19 crisis with full force.
After a few days of digesting and trying to figure out what was happening, it became very clear to us that we had an important role to play in trying to contribute, in our own particular way, to the survival of our ecosystem.
As a result, rather than hesitating and wallowing in our sorrows, we tackled the situation head-on!
The entire LoungeUp team rallied together and made an extraordinary effort to be as available as possible to our clients through numerous exchanges with them (appointments, training, newsletters, webinars) but also through numerous developments designed to enrich our platform.
Over these first few days of 2021, we take a look back over the most important developments we have implemented and made available to our clients over the course of 2020.
No need to worry, we’ve picked up the pace and 2021 will not disappoint!
January: addition of the WhatsApp channel
2020 kicked off with a WhatsApp partnership which enables hotels to chat directly with their guests via the service. Whether used to automatically send proactive messages to guests, or to respond to their requests either manually or with scheduled responses, these features brought immediate benefits to the hotels which began using them. The majority were highly impressed by their guests’ response rate and the guest engagement generated by this channel. This is hardly surprising: WhatsApp registers 2 billions users around the world and 100 billion messages exchanged daily – enough to make your head spin!
February: the new email editor
The redesign of the email campaign editor has made it much easier to use for those who are unfamiliar with this type of technology. Each element can be added and moved around very easily, it’s a breeze! Above all, the multilingual management and highly advanced personalisation capabilities have been enhanced even further. Each element can be configured according to specific conditions: date and duration of a stay, reservation channel, week or weekend stay, a guest’s stay history… this allows personalised and tailor-made campaigns to be scheduled for each guest.
March: online check-in and check-out
Since March, new health restrictions have forced industry players to rethink their approach to digitising the check-in and check-out process. Using this module, all administrative procedures are carried out by the guests beforehand on their own devices. The major change made to this module was installing a dashboard for reception staff who could then access all arrivals and departures for each day. From this screen, they can easily: send an SMS reminder to guests to complete the pre-check-in, generate the registration form which the guest can then sign on their mobile, access the completed check-in form and verify that everything is in order before handing over the guest’s room key. No room to leave nor paper to sign, the check-in process is entirely digitised and all that’s left to do is welcome the guest.
April: pre-authorisation payment management
The next step in the dematerialisation of check-in and check-out: online payment management as part of the check-in process. Credit card pre-authorisation payment is already used in several industries, and is perfectly suited to the hotel industry. By integrating it into the dematerialised guest journey, the hotel ensures that guests’ stays will be paid for, saving time for them and for their guests. It’s secure, easy to implement, and the fees are almost the same as for traditional card payments.
May: newsletters for everyone
Following the success of the new email editor, and in the context of preparing for hotels reopening after the first lockdown, we decided to make this module available free of charge to all our clients. This has enabled many more of them to communicate their new hygiene measures and provide new information regarding their opening, postponement of bookings, etc.
June: QR Codes
We already recommend QR Codes to hoteliers in order to direct guests to their digital room directory, and they became the summer’s favourite way of accessing establishments’ digital services. Whether used to order room service, chat with reception, or simply to access all the hotel’s information and recommendations, QR Codes streamline the guest journey by redirecting them to the service you wish to promote. A QR Code generator has been integrated into each page of the guest portal to facilitate their set-up in the hotel.
July: the new Messaging Hub
With travellers increasingly using instant messaging in their interactions with hotels, it became imperative to optimise the management of these exchanges across all channels, ensuring guest requests are handled better. This is how the new Messaging Hub was born, with its status management functions enabling any guest requests which are ongoing, unprocessed or requiring special attention, to be located easily. From their guest messaging hub, reception can handle all incoming guest requests, access information about the guest in question, chat simultaneously with several guests, translate incoming or outgoing messages in just one click, schedule messages, and much more.
August: contact tracing booklets
A perfect example of QR Codes being used well, the Covid-19 case tracing booklets which restaurant guests must fill in on entering the restaurant have been digitised and transformed into an online contact form. The guest can access it via a QR Code placed at the entrance or waiting point. Several changes made to existing features have allowed us to offer all of our clients who operate a restaurant to use this digital contact tracing booklet easily and free of charge.
September: Facebook Messenger
The second most used messaging service after WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger allows a chat window to be integrated directly into the hotel’s website. Using this new integration, conversations initiated on the website by travellers land directly in the Messaging Hub, which the hotel can then respond to from the same interface it uses to manage all other guest conversations.
October: 100th connected technology partner
With over 60 connected PMS and Channel Managers, PSPs, wi-fi providers and e-reputation programmes, catering and spa software… LoungeUp has always been an integral part of the hotel ecosystem, with a commitment to facilitating interactions between software systems by opening up its APIs and offering free connection to partners who work with our clients.
November: mobile door opening
Already implemented in a few hotels for experimental purposes since 2017, the possibility for guests to open their hotel room’s door with their smartphone is being requested more and more. In response to this growing demand, LoungeUp has worked with the major global connected lock providers (Salto, Onity, Assa-Abloy, Dormakaba…) in addition to the start-up Sesame Technology to be able to offer a secure, simple and very inexpensive solution. The feedback from the first few equipped hotels are very positive, even in establishments with Internet connection problems in their corridors or poorly connected PMS. It is now time to deploy these features on a mass-scale for all hotels who have requested it. To be continued…
December: the acquisition of Dmbook Pro
The year ended on a high note with the acquisition of Dmbook Pro. And rightly so; it is a true reflection of all the developments we have worked on over the last 12 months. The Covid-19 crisis has indeed turned normality upside down in the hotel software industry, but the fact remains that our convictions since the beginnings of LoungeUp have been reinforced even more: streamlining the guest journey is essential, even vital, in the hotel industry. But in order to improve the guest experience, we must simplify daily work for staff and provide them with better tools to showcase the true heart of their business: high-quality guest services, readiness to help, hospitality, and warm exchanges with guests.