B2B · Hotels

B2B hotel product, how to alert staff of new orders? Pager? App?

John Duffield

March 31st, 2014

We are a B2B hotel product. Guests place orders/requests, staff are notified via online dashboard. This isn't enough, ... concern is incoming requests will get overlooked by staff and begin to pile up. Email is not enough. Staff don't carry cell ph so SMS no good. Roaming staff won't be in front of a computer. Radio is old school, noisy and not private. We need a more viable solution. What do people suggest?

1) tablets - push notification: expensive devices, may get stolen. App needs to be built.
2) pager solution - immediate notification: cheaper, less innovative. Integration opportunities?
?

Anonymous

March 31st, 2014

The first question I would ask is "what is the problem" or particularly what is the root cause issue? You've identified a lot of tools, but have indicated that they are not enough, and you're probably right. But then I'm wondering, "if these solutions are not "right", then what is actually wrong?" Is this a technology issue, or is it a management issue, or a training issue or a service model issue?

Without knowing anything more than what you've shared, I would suspect that the issue may be that staff non-responsiveness to queued requests is indicative of staff not having clearly understood protocols of who is supposed to respond to what requests (e.g.- service model and/or management issue)

One solution may be to assign a service "quarterback" to manage the dashboard and assign service requests to designated floor staff (Perhaps set-up "zones" in which on-duty staff members are responsible for responding to service requests that arise). For communications, you could assign service staff with headsets (e.g.- secret service) to monitor and receive assignments.

I guess the real solution would arise from having a better understanding of the root cause of the problem.

Take care...


James

Todd Ellermann Experienced I.T. Leader, CTO, and Creative Entrepreneur

March 31st, 2014

Initially I was thinking iPod Touch but with that you might as well buy cheap android phones. But what about a cheap android device that isn't a phone: http://shop.playmg.com/products/playmg-mobile-android-entertainment-system-8gb $99 each Run your Play app with push notifications. There may be even cheaper options for small handheld android devices, but these seem well packaged. I would consider my own custom build of android to lock it down, but your a startup and kernel configuration is $$ Not sure about battery runtime, but that could be solved with chargers or cases with built in batteries etc... Use a web browser based app, strip off everything else on the device, to keep employees productive. Fits in a pocket, could use Skype or such for vid chat amongst employees, just need pervasive wifi. Food for thought. ******************************************************************* Todd R. Ellermann VP of Engineering VirtualTourist.com Founder Webagogy.com Researcher Betterwebapp.com Personal: toddecus@yahoo.com 805-850-8044 cell ******************************************************************* Does getting an ASU MBA with existing UofA BSCE make me a SunCat? or a WildDevil? Go Cats! ...said with a Devilish grin ;)

Mike Reyher Connecting the Dots

March 31st, 2014

I consult with Long Range Systems in Addison, TX and they have transmitters and pagers that are often connected via API to third party software systems.  They also have some interesting pagers for locating guests in fast casual restaurant operations.  You can check them out at www.pager.net or I can get you in touch with the right folks there if you prefer.

Taylor Dondich Vice President of Engineering at MaxCDN

March 31st, 2014

Well, I would say kiosks location in strategic places on property might be a good start.  Making them simple for quick checks of alerts would make sense.  These kiosks can even be mounted/secure ipads that connect to a web app.  You can also make these kiosks provide guest features as well so guests can put in future requests (I'm going to the pool right now, but I should put in an order for some room service at 8pm when I return to my room).

You can also make the webapp viewable by phone for those employees that carry them.  As well as provide SMS integration using something like twilio (again, for those staff that may have cell phones).

Use a web product.  Then you've got instant viability for multiple kiosks, mobile devices, and dashboard apps for staff management.

Joanan Hernandez CEO & Founder at Mollejuo

April 1st, 2014

I second Todd's proposal. We can safely assume that most hotels have WiFi on their premises, which will facilitate handheld devices deployment such as iPod touch - Androids

Cheers!

Anonymous

April 7th, 2014

Instead of making them adapt new methods, you should go with the process they already are comfortable with. 
You might need to discuss these with the real users of the system i.e the Staff and come up with an elegant solution with less learning curve.

P.S. I  have very less knowledge about the domain but here is what i might have done:
Use Case: Hotel with guest orders
Need one person to supervise ordering dashboard where orders pile up via emails, app, IVR etc. 
1 solution can be : a Paper ticket with order written on it . ( Very Cheap and already used solution.)
Whenever a ordered is pushed in the dashboard, it can automatically be printed in form of a new ticket via some code that can be distributed by the dashboard supervisor to Staff. 

Mike Reyher Connecting the Dots

March 31st, 2014

I am guessing the "B@B hotel product" addresses the bigger guest and staff management problem.  A subset of that problem is what device/tool could be used to deliver a request to a staff member (and maybe enable them to respond).  So in the latter case the request appears to be more for a tool that could enable his proposed solution.

Mark Neild Empowering quietly creative people to prosper through innovative yet authentic and engaging business models

April 1st, 2014

John You need a pager to alert staff member of action required on dashboard. Any issues with in- building coverage? This assumes ready access to a terminal to check the dashboard. If access is the issue then a smart device, but not too smart. Only really needs to be a browser. You are right though. No point in going for bleeding edge technology unless you have to. It sounds like you do not have to. Of course the alternative is the dispatcher. Somebody permanently mans the dashboard and finds the most appropriate staff member to fulfil the order. They page the staff member, who then calls in on internal phone and are told what they need to do. No need for them to access a terminal at all. If for some reason the staff member is unwilling or unable to fulfil, the dispatcher finds somebody else and own the resolution of the request. This need not be a separate role, but could double as switchboard operator or receptionist depending on volumes. Would that work? Mark

Rob G

March 31st, 2014

I agree with James - If you can help us understand who owns the pain then we can help with a solution.  As technologists we often try to solve all problems with tech.  In this case, if hotel management is the one experiencing the pain then likely the best solution is for management to insert a new procedure / better integrate your new solution.  It may be that they give personnel a smart phone or other device to use while on the job, ect.  If guests are making requests for service then management has a vested interest in making sure the requests are met - that's what hotels do.  They do this now in any number of ways now so it sounds like your solution needs to be better integrated with their current processes.