Luxury hotel chain Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts has launched a global app – despite previous reservations over replacing "high touch services" with hi-tech systems.
The new app will allow guests to view their bookings, order room service, request amenities for the room, make other reservations within the hotel, book luggage pick-up and airport transfers and order a wake-up call.
It also allows them to check-in 24 hours in advance and request to be notified when the room becomes available, as well as check out.
In addition to this, the app also allows guests to view concierge suggestions for the location, such as museums or restaurants outside the hotel via its "Four Seasons Recommends" feature. This can also be used by non-guests, and the hotel chain is hoping that it will be used as a resource for those not booked to stay.
The app also has a built-in geo location service with in-language maps which provide time/distance indicators, plus a save-and-share feature to help with itinerary planning.
The New York Post quoted Elizabeth Pizzinato, a spokeswoman for the group, as saying: "It was an alien concept to us -- we pride ourselves on being a very high-touch company. People's personal needs have changed. They're much more comfortable doing things for themselves."
The hotel began exploring the app idea three or four years ago, she said.
Meanwhile, Andrew Pirret, Four Seasons' mobile app operations lead, told TTG Digital that the convenience and speed provided by the app would complement high service levels provided face-to-face when guests want the more personal approach.
"The app is like a concierge in your pocket. We wanted to have an all-inclusive approach from the perspective of non-guests also being able to access the informational available – plus, it's been a collaborative approach from the perspective of each hotel's team putting all the information together for the app."
The app will continue to evolve and this would be informed by customer feedback, he added. It will include social integration next year.
However, the group is not planning to allow the facility for guests to use the technology to access their rooms, as luxury chain Starwood has done for some of its brands, said Pirret. "We know some hotels have taken it further, but we're not ready to open doors yet using the app and a smartphone."
The benefits of the app to the hotel chain include greater insight into guests' arrival times as well as other efficiencies.
"One of the major benefits for us as hotel operators is being able to capture arrival times so we can be prepared as guests join us – we currently only really know 25% of guests arrival times. Another major efficiency benefit is in the area of room service, as staff can now get an instant, clearly communicated order, with less margin for error," Pirret commented.