Technology is developing more rapidly than ever and consumers are joining in the fun. Modern travellers expect a flawless WiFi connection and a seamless omni-channel experience everywhere. Hotels that ignore the trend miss opportunities. That is why AccorHotels drew up a digital plan and brought Econocom in as a chain partner for the first part: a strong WiFi connection in all the rooms of the 45 hotels in the Benelux. AccorHotels is ready for the future!
Who does not have a smartphone nowadays? In 2015, we are constantly on the Internet and want to be able to use it when we leave home too, and to do so, not only with our smartphone, but also with our tablet, laptop, smartwatch, or all of them at once.
Hardly anyone travels any more without Internet connection. The AccorHotels chain took due note. AccorHotels is the umbrella organisation behind Novotel, Ibis and Mercure in particular, and has nearly 500,000 hotel rooms in some 4,000 hotels worldwide. Every traveller has high expectations when it comes to the Internet and service, regardless of his or her age and budget. So AccorHotels decided to address the issue and drew up a five-year digital plan, where good connectivity is one of the components. The purpose? Provide personal, high-quality service to travellers worldwide, irrespective of the device. In other words: good WiFi connection at all times everywhere and the capability to switch between different systems, including the traveller’s devices. You want to connect your Netflix account to the TV in your hotel room via your smartphone? No problem at all!
AccorHotels called on the digital service provider Econocom for all 45 hotels in the Benelux. Every hotel room, lobby, corridor and lift is provided with the right digital technology thanks to financing from Econocom. AccorHotels naturally already had WiFi but it did not work as well in all rooms. Furthermore, a stronger connection is needed in 2015 given the increasing number of devices and continuous use.
Every customer is offered the same minimal broadband in an effort to become the coolest digital hotel chain in the world. Only in this way can modern travellers go online everywhere, at all times and with every device. And that requires a lot of new access points, more in one place than in another. A nice open room already has a very strong signal with two routers, whereas five access points may be required for WiFi to work properly in the cellar between the concrete posts.
Leasing and more
A digital transition is expensive. This is one of the reasons why AccorHotels opted for a flexible financing solution from Econocom. After a half-year implementation phase, AccorHotels can enjoy all the benefits of digitisation at once, while the costs are staggered over a longer period. By not committing any capital in moveable goods such as routers, servers and countless cables, AccorHotels can keep capital free for its core business: hospitality. AccorHotels worked closely with HoistGroup during the rollout of the digital Plan. HoistGroup supplied all the technology which Econocom then financed.
Caro van Eekelen, Chief Operating Officer, Hotel Services Benelux at AccorHotels: “We are on the brink of a digital revolution in the hotel sector and in our daily lives, where all the possibilities are far from discovered yet. This fascinating development requires a number of basic conditions and a good Internet access is one of them. This is why we have decided to give priority to this upgrade.”
The project is now completed. As AccorHotels continues to open new hotels, “we will naturally continue to be involved, as a business partner, in the digitisation of AccorHotels”, says Yann Toutant, general manager, Econocom Netherlands. “Just think of the maintenance, guarantees, repairs and replacement services. In addition, we can simply facilitate ultra-modern technology such as connected mirrors and robot butlers – ditto for (interactive) screens, coffee machines, computers, cash registers, tablets, TVs, etc. The hotel of the future is no longer a fantasy. Whoever does not stay abreast developments, is no longer relevant.
The reviews show that customers are satisfied and the experience is good. But the top connection is only the beginning for AccorHotels. “Using the Internet via WiFi enables us to provide new digital platforms and services. Internet access has up to now been used as a means of connection. Tomorrow, we will provide services and change the guest experience radically in the process. A very sound WiFi structure is one of three pillars that form the new basis of the Digital Plan. The digital app of AccorHotels is available in the usual app stores as it is constantly developed further through monthly innovations,” Caro van Eekelen continues.
Ultimately, AccorHotels wants to create a great, personalised experience by facilitating relevant, proprietary content for (potential) customers. Travellers can for instance see through their devices which AccorHotels are in the vicinity (and at what budget), and what there is to do at that place. The developed app takes the customer along on a virtual trip – in other words, a total omni-channel experience for optimal customer experience and customer service.
The staff of AccorHotels find their fill here too. Operating processes are becoming smarter, and thanks to all the gathered data, it is getting easier to offer good, personalised service. “Thanks to ‘smart processes,’ vouchers work “automatically” for instance, when a traveller with a discount code comes into the hotel. The staff must of course be well trained to deal with the new technology. For it would be a shame not to use the possibilities. Technology offers opportunities, but you must also know how to seize them. All staff are consequently trained first, because only then can you make the most of the opportunities.
AccorHotels is not the only party satisfied with the cooperation. Yan Toutant: “The digital strategy and corresponding demand from AccorHotels fits perfectly with our service, and is fully in line with our vision and what we do. That makes it easy to get along. The digital transformation comprises far more than a few extra boxes on the wall. It is about the entire customer experience, and AccorHotels gets it and takes the lead.
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