ALICE  

New York,  NY 
United States
http://www.aliceapp.com
  • Booth: 1245

By joining all the departments of your hotel onto a single operations platform for internal communication and task management, ALICE helps your staff act as a team to provide consistently excellent service. 


 Press Releases

  • Published on: HotelExecutive.com, April 2017

    Whether it's booking travel online, buying a book or watching porn, for years, the role of technology has been to improve our access to information and our ability to act on that information. As a result, consumers have become increasingly independent and able to satisfy their needs through technology. In economics this is called disintermediation - the removal of intermediaries from a supply chain, or the "cutting out of the middlemen" in connection with a transaction or a series of transactions. We've seen Uber do it to the taxi companies, airlines to the travel agents and so on. In the hotel, that "middleman" has always been the concierge - the highly polished, extremely knowledgeable "Golden Keys," who could unlock the best restaurants in town for the guests who asked the nicest. The concierge was historically the guests' access point to all the information they were seeking on local services and products.

    With the advent of the smartphone, however, the concierge role has come under threat. The proliferation of review sites, social media recommendations, and online booking platforms has given guests the ability to discover and take care of everyday requests themselves. Many people are calling this age the Concierge Economy (or Convenience Economy), one in which countless networks of digitally coordinated workers deliver products and services to people who are cash-rich but time-poor. As the Wall Street Journal wrote in 2015, "there is an Uber for everything now." When you combine these Uber-for-X offerings with the online booking platforms that can satisfy your restaurant (OpenTable) and theater (Ticketmaster) needs, you can justify the notion that a guest can effectively serve as their own concierges today.

    Consumer technology is outpacing concierge technology, leaving many in our industry to undervalue the necessity of a highly trained concierge and many concierges frustrated at their inability to perform at the speed and personalization required to impress our clientele. - Noah Lemaich, Chief Concierge of Sixty Hotels 
     

     But reports of the demise of the concierge role have been greatly exaggerated, as you will see. Indeed, let us consider another reality. Nothing has changed. A guest has always been able to figure out what to do and research how to do it. I know it seems shocking to think of a world without my beloved Google Maps, but there was a time when I stopped by the concierge to ask for a map and directions every time I left the hotel -- at that time, doing so was simply the most convenient option. This reality is true of all these on-demand apps. Consumers are not choosing them because they are cheaper but because they are more convenient and in almost all cases, we are paying a premium for this convenience. An item in a vending machine is more expensive than the same one at a store because someone else has applied resources to make sure it's more conveniently located. In our industry, convenience premiums are placed on the items in the mini-bar, the amenities brought up to our rooms and the WiFi now on planes. The point is that consumers value time and effort and technology has not changed our values.

    Technology has rarely changed what we do, just how we do it. A concierge has always been a luxury not a necessity, just as having a driver has been over renting your own car. The problem today is that technology thus far has affected everything around the concierge, but not yet the role itself. The concierge has become less convenient than the service apps I use because the service apps live on my phone and in most hotels, the concierge does not. So, in a world of mobile technology and information overload, we have to create a new model for concierge, one in which convenience is achieved through technology, and one in which guests are able to continue paying their convenience premiums but to the concierge instead of an outsourced service provider.

    How Technology will Support the Concierge of the Future

    The concierge of the future needs to be supported by technology made expressly to enhance the role and place him or her at the center of the guest experience. Perhaps a better name for this role is "Guest Experience Manager." This technology needs to augment and advance the concierge in his or her ability to: Project Manage, Communicate, Curate Information ad Personalize

    1. Project Management

    Concierges today need technology that lets them master their guests' itineraries and accommodate the planning that's needed often months in advance, as well as in the split seconds after a request is made.

    A concierge is not just the person who secures the guest a romantic corner table on Valentine's Day. A concierge, rather, ensures everything before, during, and after that corner table is exactly as the guest wants it. There's much that goes into this. Just listen to Erik Rocca, Concierge at Thompson Nashville, and one of many ALICE Concierge users, describe what's necessary to coordinate a single evening for just one guest:

    "Jack Barnes, Corner booth at Balthazar…… 7:47 PM, hates even numbers…Two Negroni's on the rocks waiting at the table….Must be seated in Antonio's section, the Head Waiter for over 20 years. Red Roses. Mr. Barnes has a special note for his wife to be delivered by the Maître D at 8:13 PM. Two tickets to the heavyweight fight at Madison Square Garden. Seats must be in Section 201 or in Mr. Monroe's Box Seats, but only if he offers, of course. Car waiting to take them back, 15 minutes before the fight ends to miss the traffic. Keys at the desk with today's papers for a night cap."

    "Any concierge," says Erik, "can tell you that the job is not always easy, especially in a luxury market. Guests are demanding and particular, and they have every right to be. Being a great concierge and hotel is about delivering outstanding customer service within a non-stop twenty-four-hour cycle."

    The concierge role is one that requires extremely accurate project management. Stitching together an evening, whether it is as grand as that of Mr Barnes or as simple as a trip to the movies, takes time and effort. Imagine a whole trip, and then multiply that by the number of guests at your hotel at any one time, plus those guests who plan their trip in advance in arrival. While guests may be increasingly booking their travel online, 77% of all in-stay tourist activities are actually still booked offline and in-destination, according to Robin Berrendorf, Co-Founder at MyEventBUTLER.

    The app world has done a great job at facilitating the "right now" requests, but a concierge needs to accurately manage requests for activities and items far out in the future as well as those that require immediate attention. Much of the software being used by concierges today (or lack of software) creates a barrier to the concierge performing this orchestration flawlessly. Most concierges are using either spreadsheets or very simple task management tools. To be more convenient and helpful to guests than the apps on their phones, concierges need technology attuned to the project management needs of the role.

    2. Communication

    Concierges today need technology that makes it easier for guests to communicate with them than it is to communicate with their apps.

    How we communicate with one another has changed significantly over the past ten years. Phone calls are on the wane, and messaging (be it through SMS, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger) is becoming increasingly prevalent - both between friends and between consumers and businesses. Guests staying at your hotel will expect to communicate with your staff in the method of their choosing, in the way that's most convenient to them.

    Hotels can't afford to ignore their guests' communication channel preferences. Take the example of Netflix vs Blockbuster. Both companies provide(d) the same exact service - letting you watch a movie at home. At its peak in 2004, Blockbuster had 60,000 employees, 9,000 stores and a market cap of $5bn. Today, Netflix has a market cap of $59.38bn, which is exactly $59.38bn more than that of Blockbuster, which filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

    When it comes to technology, we must continuously hew towards convenience. If the concierge isn't able to join the guest on their preferred communication channel, then the guest must walk up to the desk or call him or her, which takes effort and diminishes convenience. As long as this technology gap remains, guests will continue to outsource their service needs to a provider who is at their fingertips (and I will continue to use my Google Maps).

    Since placing SMS capabilities into ALICE we have already seen a sharp rise in the willingness of guests to ask for service as it becomes frictionless to do so. As the concierge role becomes more of a guest experience hub, it's imperative their communication abilities keep pace with that of their guests.

    3. Information Curation

    Concierges today need technology that helps them help guests cut through the information overload that exists today.

    When the travel industry first introduced online booking platforms, travel agents all over the world went out of business. What need was there for a physical agent, if guests could book themselves online and hotels could access their guests directly? Over the last few years, however, we are starting to see this trend reverse, and witness a resurgence of the travel advisor (the new travel agent). This is because with so much content being produced, we now live in a world of information overload. Travellers crave adventure and new experiences. They also want experiences that are local and authentic. With so much information and "advice" out there it's hard to see the forest through the trees, no matter how many algorithms we create to achieve this. Again, its time vs money and while we can curate our own trips, people value the opinions and reassurances of other humans. When it comes to the hotel experience, the concierge is there to help (much like the resurging travel agent). Even Airbnb has their hosts now communicating through messaging technology with guests around their trips to help facilitate and suggest local experiences that will make the trip memorable. Just as the number of travel advisors is set to grow 10% through 2020, there remains a big opportunity for the content curating concierge. 

    4. Personalization

    Concierges need technology that helps them make guests feel special and valued.

    Just as we want to experience the world as a local, we also want to be treated as one. The future of guest experience is a highly personalized one. It is one where the hotel recognizes you not just for your booking loyalty, but for who you are as an individual and how you like to enjoy your travel. One of the key reasons we choose hotels in general over Airbnb is for their service. One of the key reasons we will go back to the exact same hotel is because we are remembered. Leading Hotels of the World found their members who felt recognized by the hotel had a 3x higher guest satisfaction score.

    This is where technology will have its biggest impact. As hotels adopt platform and messaging technology, every single action and communication from a guest will have some form of digital trace. Staff are getting rid of radios and moving to digital too, and even the complaints and requests made by guests are becoming digitized. Thus, as the entire hotel technology ecosystem becomes integrated, the amount of data we have on our guests is growing exponentially. Everything from a complaint to an allergy will become usable data.

    While we recognize that much of this data is not useful and that there is a data overload, artificial intelligence is progressing to a point where we are not far off from being able to surface the right guest to hotel staff at the right time. The concierge of the future will be able to use this data to create a truly personalized experience. Moreover, concierges who are trained in the art of hospitality will be advantaged to deliver this personalization in a way that feels authentic, which is something technology itself cannot do. As Skift wrote in their mega trends for 2017, hospitality needs to bring back its humanity. But this does not mean no technology, rather it means using technology to support hotel staff to deliver the experience of hospitality

    Guests have not changed what they are doing, just how they are doing it. Hotels will continue to need their concierges, because guests will continue to want convenient, human driven hospitality experiences. However, the concierge will only survive and thrive if given the right technology - the right technology to become a holistic guest experience manager, as the changing role requires. Guests will need to communicate with their concierge as seamlessly as they do with their apps. Concierges will also need tools for curation and personalization, in order to safeguard the industry's ability to deliver unique and memorable travel experiences.

  • March, 2017

    SAN FRANCISCO—Streamlining operations eliminates bottlenecks and increases efficiency—a win for hotels and their guests. And equipping employees with the right tools is essential to improving service throughout a property. But if a hotel is unable to adapt to the times and uses archaic technology, it becomes incumbent upon employees to overcome unnecessary barriers themselves. Looking to improve communication and transparency, Hotel Zephyr, located here, sought out a hotel operations platform to assist with requests across all departments—and it found it in a solution offered by a New York City-based company. 

    “Our ownership group, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, introduced us to Alice after they had worked with another one of their hotels, Hotel Zetta,” said James Dannecker, hotel manager at Hotel Zephyr. “We had similar pain points as a hotel: lack of consistent communication and little transparency into the work our staff was doing.”

    The Alice platform is a one-stop shop for hotels. It integrates three aspects of the business (three solutions into one suite): concierge services (keeping track of guests’ needs); request management (enabling employees to communicate with each other and process tasks); and guest interaction (giving guests more ways to contact a property when they’re in need). Instead of going with the suite option, properties can individually select Alice solutions, which consist of Alice Staff, Alice Concierge and Alice Guest. Having all three components, however, can significantly reduce uncertainty throughout a property, since the right hand always knows what the left hand is doing. Even using a single solution throughout a property can reduce confusion and diminish communication gaps, allowing employees to focus on other pressing matters. Without a unified solution, workers often have to confirm and reconfirm requests from guests. 

    Take, for example, a request from a guest—perhaps the room wasn’t cleaned. The guest calls down to the front desk and notifies the clerk of the issue. The employee will then inform someone from housekeeping. A supervisor will then send someone to clean the room. Then the housekeeper tasked with cleaning the room will have to report back after completing the room. Without an integrated system, the front desk clerk will be unaware of where the request is in the process. “For every time a guest communicates, there are about seven points of interaction on the staff side,” said Alexander Shashou, co-founder and president of Alice. Typically, either the front desk clerk or the concierge is the one responding to and dispatching requests.

    “One of the reasons we selected Alice was for its great design and user experience,” Dannecker said. “The system is very intuitive and beautiful. It was easy for our staff to learn and to use, especially the mobile staff application. As our maintenance team is less tech-savvy than our front desk, having such a simple experience on the staff mobile app was key to us successfully adopting and training Alice.”

    It took Alice three days to complete the setup at the property: The first day consisted of the actual installation; the second day revolved around training; and on the third day, the Alice team stood by for any additional questions. The property has been using only Alice Staff, the company’s solution dedicated to task management.  

    Before adopting Alice, Hotel Zephyr’s employees were communicating via radio, and pen and paper—a limited means of communication as far as workflow is concerned. There was an unneeded back and forth, which limits available resources. “With Alice, we believed we had found a system that would allow us to track and communicate all the work our teams were doing in a very easy manner,” Dannecker said.

    Prior to Alice, there was no accountability in the work the property’s employees were doing; there also always needed to be a channel open for staff to communicate via radio. The platform helped change the logistics operationally for the hotel, a property with 355 rooms. “This allows us to track how long it is taking us to finish all jobs and find areas of improvement in our operations,” Dannecker said. 

    Hotel Zephyr has been leveraging the hotel operations platform for more than a year, and it’s seeing results, specifically with regard to service time. With the Alice platform, the hotel’s employees can generate custom reports for revenue, productivity and usage; log and audit every action by staff and guests; and use data to assess performance across multiple departments and properties. This includes analyzing how long it takes employees to complete certain tasks and setting up timed goals for requests. “You can’t get down to zero because cleaning a room and fixing a toilet takes a certain amount of time,” Shashou pointed out. However, the hotel operations platform is designed to diminish communication gaps—and that, according to him, is where the ROI is.

    “This switch has also given us a new level of understanding of what is going on,” Dannecker said. “Before Alice, we had no reporting on property, but with Alice, everything is done digitally, which means that we now have data on all the work we are doing that we can analyze to improve our ability to deliver a great guest experience.”

    With the Alice Staff mobile solution, employees at the property are now able to create new work orders as soon as they see a problem via mobile. Twenty-five percent of all requests now originate via the mobile solution. Since being able to use the app, Zephyr’s staff has been able to communicate in real time on over 11,000 requests for a total of more than 17,000 messages exchanged within the last year. 

    “I like that I can communicate with my departments quickly, and there’s a record of it,” said Nina del Piccolo, assistant front office manager at the property. “All the reports we get are very useful, especially for the housekeeping department,” which has seen improved efficiency, even during busier times. Using the Alice platform, guest requests to housekeeping are now resolved, on average, within 11 minutes of initial requests. 

    All requests, across all departments, are logged in the same place and dispatched immediately to the correct department. A year after the launch of using the Alice platform, the property improved its response time to guest requests by 40% year over year. Moreover, the property’s TripAdvisor score improved to 49, climbing 81 places. Over the same period, Hotel Zephyr’s five-star service reviews increased 83%. 

    The top three requests via Alice over the last year were message, deliver and refill. “Our team is using Alice heavily to communicate internally and message each other about the work that is being done,” Dannecker said. “However, the biggest operational change has not just been to switch from radios to Alice but for the runners on property in delivering and refilling stock around the hotel.” 

    Hotel Zephyr is looking into implementing additional features in the future that are guest facing, which it believes will enhance both communication and the guest experience. Guests would be able to contact the property’s staff via app, desktop or SMS.

    “Alice has streamlined the process for property issues and guest requests for both housekeeping and engineering, and has ensured everything is being recorded, tracked and monitored,” Dannecker said. “We have the availability to track in real time and provide assistance where/when needed. The escalation notifications are an added element to ensure all messages are taken care of in a timely manner. We can also find patterns with repeat issues in rooms or guest requests to help identify areas of opportunity.” 


 Products

  • ALICE Suite
    Connect every department in your hotel with one platform for all staff communication and guest requests. Easy communication between your staff departments improves your guest experience....

  • Includes:

    • ALICE Staff

    • ALICE Concierge

    • ALICE Guest
  • ALICE Staff
    Get rid of the radio for a trackable, accountable, and more efficient employee communication system....

    • Hotel Radio Substitute
      Allow your staff to access their to-do list from a mobile device and assign tickets across all departments on the go.

    • Task Management
      View every request across all of your hotel’s departments. You can see in-progress, completed, and outstanding tasks, so you always know who’s working on what.

    • Request History
      Understand the full lifecycle of both guest and internal requests for full accountability of your entire team.

    • Package Management
    Record, maintain, and easily access a log of all incoming and outgoing packages, shared across all of your teams.
  • ALICE Concierge
    An easy to use request management tool to keep you and your concierge team organized so you can focus on exceeding your guests' expectations....

    • Log all requests with one system
      Quickly log reservations, transportation, packages, wake up calls, lost & found, and everything else, all in one place.

    • Smart Vendor Database
      Automatically import vendor details with our Google-powered database. Everything you need to focus on curating vendor relationships and insider information.

    • Package Management
      Record, maintain, and easily access a log of all incoming and outgoing packages, shared across your entire hotel.

    • Hotel-Branded Confirmations & Recommendations

    Create confirmation letters, itineraries, and vendor suggestions personalized to every guest, which you can easily email, print, or save.

  • ALICE Guest
    Give your guests the luxury to choose how they want to communicate with your hotel, while giving your staff one single system to manage it all....

    • New Guest Channels
      Guests can communicate all their needs by app, website, phone, or by text.

    • Direct Department Communication
      Guest can communicate a request directly to the appropriate department.

    • Custom Notifications
      Create automated messages that will notify your guest when each of their requests is received, is in-progress, and is completed, for peace of mind during their stay.

    • Guest Reporting & Analysis
    Dashboards to analyze guest activities for actionable insights
  • ALICE Add On’s: Open API
    Connect your systems to our systems
    Use our open API to integrate ALICE with your app, your website, your PMS, and more
    ...

    • Connect your hotel or brand guest app into ALICE for structured service requests and/or chat functionality.

    • Allow any third-party device or provider to send requests directly into ALICE, including chatbots, Alexa, or other hospitality software products.
  • ALICE Add On's: Package Management
    ALICE Package Management is the tool you need to help your staff record, maintain, and easily access a log of incoming and outgoing packages, shared across your entire hotel....

    • Increase Productivity: ALICE’s user-friendly interface lets you log packages quickly and efficiently
    • Ensure Accuracy with a USB Package Scanner: Automatically log tracking numbers directly into ALICE using a USB package scanner to ensure the precise entry of details (compatibility with all USB scanners)
    • Share Package Information Across Departments: With our flexible user settings and permissions, you can enable any staff member to see the incoming and outgoing packages relevant to your in-house and arriving guests
    • Print out Package Labels: Print out enlarged package labels to easily identify and locate packages within your various storage locations
    • Record Guest Signature: Release packages with accountability. Hotel staff can capture guests signatures in ALICE while releasing a package from the hotel's possession using a USB
  • ALICE Add On's: Guest Messaging
    Enter a new era of guest engagement with ALICE’s Guest Messaging. ALICE enables hotels to leverage text messaging to make it easy to connect with guests, improve TripAdvisor Scores, & drive guest loyalty....

    • Why you should choose ALICE’s Guest Messaging:

    • Increase guest engagement: Make it easier for your guests to communicate with your staff, and request hotel services or ask questions, whether they’re on property or off, and before, during or after their stay.

    • Drive guest loyalty: Create lasting relationships with each of your guests by messaging them in real-time before they arrive, during their stay, after they leave.

    • Improve TripAdvisor Scores: Resolve issues quickly before they make their way to TripAdvisor or social media, and digitally prompt guests to leave positive reviews.

    • Get ahead of bad public reviews: Privately resolve issues before they reach social media & review websites. Enhance the guest experience by taking advantage of every opportunity to act on complaints & concerns.

    • Increase Revenue: Actively engage with guests throughout their stay and drive more revenue via mobile marketing, loyalty programs, upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

    • Improve Staff Efficiency:

      • Streamline operations for guests to communicate what they need

      • Staff can communicate with multiple guests at once

  • ALICE Add On's: Business Intelligence
    Reports, dashboards, and tracking for every touch
    ...

    • Generate custom reports for revenue, productivity, and usage

    • Compare across multiple departments and properties

    • Fully log & audit every action by staff and guests