Checking all the boxes by thinking out of the box

Checking all the boxes by thinking out of the box

You won't find queues at the counter at the 333-room Bay Hotel Singapore in Telok Blangah and nor will you find front desk staff.

Checking in is now a fast affair thanks to some clever new technology, as business traveller Henry Sim, a first-time guest at the hotel, found.

Mr Sim received a mobile confirmation immediately after making a reservation.

"When I landed in Singapore, I received another text to prompt me to do an express check in; picture that!"

Staff greeted him by his name when he arrived and he did not have to wait at the counter. He simply walked to the elevator to go up to his room.

"The best part was I simply signed on an iPad," he says.

This was all thanks to the Qikinn system, a mobile solution, that the hotel implemented in February last year, not long after it opened.

Soon after, it also adopted the Qikpad system, a mobile device for fast check-ins.

These were part of a suite of IT solutions the hotel adopted with the help of a Customer-Centric Initiative grant.

Guest relations officer Nurul Aqilah says: "Previously, guests would have to come to the counter. You then asked for the passport, filled up the form, found their booking details in the system, and got a room for them.

"Now, the work's done when the guests arrive. We know when they are coming and get ready to welcome them."

Bay Hotel Singapore is the first hotel of the Bay Hotel & Resort company, which has plans to expand into the region.

It is owned by Fiesta Development, which in turn is fully controlled by local developer Chin Bay Ching.

The Qikinn system, says front desk manager Nigel Vsandh, has helped to raise productivity: "Our staff now spend more time with guests to understand their needs and to interact with them."

The system also allows the hotel to respond directly and quickly to guest communications via sms or e-mail, thus cutting costs.

The hotel also has a passport scanner that eliminates the need to fill in forms - part of its move to being a paperless office.

"Hotels are supposed to be customer-centric, but sometimes the amount of paperwork they have creates unnecessary stress," says Mr Vsandh, who also takes charge of the hotel's IT needs.

"At 3pm, when a guest comes, (a staff member) may think to themselves: 'Don't come to my counter.'

"It's because they are tired and busy making sure their paperwork is done correctly, because if not, the management will come down hard on them."

The next thing the hotel did was to install a guest management system called @ your wish.

When a guest calls the operator with a problem, it is keyed into the system and the message is sent direct to a technician, for instance. If the technician doesn't acknowledge it, the message goes to his manager.

"Previously, the operator would call the housekeeping department, and the coordinator would write down the problem and get the technicians to do the job. Sometimes, the operator might forget about it," says Mr Vsandh.

The system can also generate a report of the problems reported, allowing management to look at how to resolve the recurring issues for good.

The hotel has tackled the housekeeping problem by adopting the JDS solution, which allows for the faster release of rooms.

It's a system that allows housekeepers to pick up the phone and key in a code to release a room.

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