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Save money, time & trees: Go digital!

Digital compendiums play an important role in enhancing your guest's experience from booking right through to post departure

Digital compendiums have been one of the most important technological developments for the accommodation industry in recent years, saving money, time, and forests of trees.

They offer instant and almost limitless information for guests, they are easily updated by managers and since paper is no longer required, the environment benefits as well.

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Neil Houlston, Hinfo Guest Digital Compendium told AccomNews that “going digital brings multiple perks”.

He said: “It allows for unlimited information updates, direct access to online resources and directions with just a tap of a button, and all with an interface that complements your property’s branding.”

“Food and beverage ordering is made easier when it comes to updating pricing and item availability, upselling and customising individual orders.

“This increases engagement and sales, along with eliminating the need to provide printed menus for your in-house restaurant, room service and mini-bar.”

A property can change the menu on its compendium as often as it likes. Offerings, such as new menu items, special deals, and the latest tours can be updated in minutes, and sent to all guests immediately, providing the opportunity for extra business and to upsell with a few strokes of the touchscreen.

Digital Compendiums image courtesy of Orana

Karen Graham, Marketing Director, Orana Software told us: “Digital compendiums can facilitate bookings either within the accommodation itself or at nearby restaurants and attractions. The significant benefit of this is that additional revenue may be generated through these partnerships.

“Revenue can also be driven via shopping cart technology, offering guests the opportunity to purchase food baskets, experiences, or even local artwork.”

With touchless technology vital during COVID, the benefits of digital compendiums were highlighted, not just as a way of stifling the virus but it became evident just how much they also enhanced safety and indeed the visitor experience.

Ms Graham agreed, “digital compendiums do remove concerns around unhygienic paper-based guides,” she said.

“They also remove the frustration of guests being presented with out-of-date information. Guests are much happier when they are informed of new activities and last-minute changes because it allows them to experience their holiday in a more relaxed way, especially if they are travelling with children.”

Going digital allows a property to promote their health and safety procedures widely and instantly, with the ability to easily update they can alert to dangers and emergencies as well as lost items or lost children.

It is a bonus that digital compendiums are also far more sustainable Ms Graham said.

Digital Compendiums image courtesy of Orana

Until recently guest compendiums were usually printed and placed in bound leather or vinyl-covered binders inside hotel rooms. They outlined menus, guest facilities and local attractions but the product was eco-unfriendly and expensive. Updates for each room were costly and time-consuming.

Every major change in the details of a property required reprints of the compendiums, and they quickly became dog-eared and smudged. With each room needing its own book, compendiums took a large chunk of a property’s budget and workforce.

The versatility of digital compendiums makes their printed alternatives look like ancient history. They can be accessible anywhere, updated quickly and have the capacity to outline information in stunning and creative formats.

Mr Houlston said: “The most noticeable difference between digital compendiums and printed compendiums is the ability to provide images for every heading and listing included. This not only creates a more engaging experience but can also help explain certain details better than written instructions only, such as a map of the property’s premises.”

And if you want the advantage of a large screen, Ms Graham says IPTV solutions can be used as a digital compendium. However, she warns, when a compendium is not on the guest’s phone and can only be used in a guestroom or the lobby it “creates a gap in the guest experience”.

Ms Graham said: “Using digital compendiums via phones delivers on the guest need for information on-the-go, without them having to search online themselves.”

Moreover, when guests can access the compendiums on their own smartphones or tablets, they can already be well versed in an accommodation’s offerings, even before they arrive.

She said: “Digital compendiums play an important role from booking right through to post departure as they are typically sent to the guest along with the booking confirmation and are used throughout the guest’s stay. They are also accessible via their phones after departure. 

“They help the guest to know where they are going with the online maps and help to fill them in on what they need to know prior to arrival. They provide in-depth information about the property and local attractions, making recommendations for fantastic restaurants and hidden gems.

“Digital compendiums can also display a weather forecast, helping guests plan their getaway before they arrive. This all contributes to a positive guest experience because interaction with guests should not be about the mundane day-to-day questions but rather about authentic human interaction,” she said.

 “Accommodation providers will have more time for that all-important human touch and to do what they love best – delight their guests!”

Focussing on the guest experience will ensure they have a great time and when they do they tell others, they leave excellent reviews and directly re-book.

Using digital compendiums, makes it far easier for guests to order room service, order fresh towels, check gym hours or use services such as babysitting arrangements.

Digital Compendiums image courtesy of Hinfo

And Mr Houlston, observes that “nobody knows your property or your local area better than your staff”. 

He said: “They can provide recommendations for local places, events, and services. If you have a relationship with a local business, you can include promotional details or a website referral link to their business and track engagement with analytics built into the digital compendium’s management interface.

“Your property’s details can also benefit from keyword search functions, most useful on a smartphone and can be automatically translated into your guest’s preferred language. You can also release promotions that are time sensitive with the use of immediate and scheduled notifications.”

The translation feature allows digital compendiums to be presented in any language and this can only be good for a property’s bottom line. It improves guest satisfaction by promoting effective communication and ensures guests provide accurate feedback.

Artificial intelligence has also been growing in the technology space with new options including ChatGPT, Mr Houlston revealed.

He said: “Technologies like this in the future, will have the potential to provide individual personalised recommendations to each guest, based on previous engagement, including across multiple properties.

“Voice Assistants are also improving and will eventually allow for your guest’s smartphone to answer questions based on your property and the local area, without the need to have your property’s digital compendium opened on your guests’ own devices. This will only be possible via native mobile apps, which will allow this feature to also work on smartwatches and eventually smart glasses.”

When looking to purchase a digital compendium solution for your property Mr Houlston says there are three key factors to consider:

  1. Do guests have their own individual access wherever they are during their stay? This key benefit is only possible with a mobile solution.
  2. Look for mobile solutions that offer multiple access options for guests. The two primary mobile options are native mobile apps and web-based solutions, which should allow for access via QR Codes or manual search on the App Store. Another popular option is a weblink to include in your booking email confirmations, in a pre-arrival SMS or on the guest wifi login confirmation screen.
  3. Your chosen digital solutions should not be more expensive than printed compendiums, both in the short and long term. Look into the cost per room, per night, in addition to any upfront costs.

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