French hospitality giant Accor is to remove over 100 check-in desks from its properties as it moves to mobile interfaces and empowers its staff to offer a more personal service.
The Novotel, Pullman, Mercure and Ibis parent says the move it part of a “cultural transformation” in its UK and Ireland business involving over 7,000 staff.
It said staff will be empowered to “think outside of the box” in their approach to welcoming guests and will be free to offer “heartfelt gestures in a tech-driven world”.
The drive will be backed by a new multi-million pound consumer advertising campaign under the strapline ‘From The Heart’ filmed at three London hotels.
AccorHotels UK & Ire said in the future it will only deploying new technology where it enhances customer experience and enables staff to offer a greater level of service.
AccorHotels has deployed a new mobile operating system at over 100 of its ibis hotels and selected Novotels in the UK.
The system removes the need for traditional check-in desks, and lets staff approach and greet guests on arrival and around the hotel, with check-in and with day-to-day administrative functions simply run via an app on their phone from anywhere in the hotel.
Examples of “off-script” experiences Accor properties have been offering since the roll out to 80% of its UK hotels cooking personalised unicorn pancakes for younger guests, walking a guest’s dog, surprising a guest with the latest novel by their favourite writer, even helping concoct a guest’s marriage proposal plan.
Accor said “the move bucks increasing trends of automation, placing outstanding guest service at the heart of delivering first class hospitality and unforgettable travel experiences”.
Thomas Dubaere, chief operating officer, AccorHotels UK and Ireland, said: “We believe the most important factor to drive our continued success in a very competitive environment is how our family of hotel staff make our guests feel.
“We have transformed the way colleagues can interact freely and directly with guests with the roll out of our mobility programme, removing reception desks in over 100 hotels and running operations via smartphones.
“We have since invested a lot of energy in creating a culture where staff feel empowered to go ‘off-script’ and are trusted to deliver the personal touch. In addition we are now investing in our new advertising campaign which champions this philosophy and demonstrates the effect it can have to potential new guests.”
Accor’s cultural transformation is being backed by training of staff who have taken party in a series of workshops to make them feel empowered to communicate with guests on a more personal level.
Novotel London Canary Wharf general manager Jacqui MacMillan said: “You can instantly tell in a guest’s reaction when you have connected with them.
“They appreciate actions that come from the heart, however big or small. It has taken my job to another level and given me the freedom to welcome guests like family.”