The business world is full of examples of companies that failed to adapt to change, particularly in the technology sphere, and paid the price in lost customers and market share. The hospitality industry by contrast has always managed to adapt to changing customer needs, even against the backdrop of economic crises, terror attacks and other uncontrollable events. The current coronavirus outbreak is the latest challenge our business has had to face, but ever mindful of what happens to those who do not adapt, we have been actively working to prepare for a post-lockdown future.
With safety at the forefront of everyone’s mind, we have revisited every aspect of the guest journey, from booking to arrival to departure, and what seemed unconscionable at the beginning of the outbreak is now set to become the ‘new normal’. We have introduced rigorous cleaning protocols using hospital grade disinfectant and updated training procedures to enable our colleagues to carry out advanced apartment cleaning, including a taping procedure implemented to seal apartments that have been sanitised. Our colleagues are provided with protective equipment and instructed to keep guest contact to a minimum, whilst there is an extensive checklist to ensure all surfaces exposed to contact are kept frequently sanitised and hand gel is readily available.
We recognised the opportunity to raise the profile of serviced apartments at a time when customers are acutely aware of the importance of hygiene and social distancing. Our online and digital services in-particular have really come into their own, and we expect adoption of our app, offering online check-in, direct messaging and keyless access to increase significantly when travel restrictions begin to ease.
We have been able to benefit from offering apartments, not just bedrooms. The restrictions put in place for traditional hotels during the covid-19 outbreak forcing their closure were not applicable to Cheval’s Residences, all of which have fully-equipped kitchens enabling residents to self-isolate and to keep their distance from others. By continuing operations Cheval has been able to make some adjustments to our practices in real time, not only those that are customer facing, but behind the scenes too. By deconstructing the customer journey, we have identified the key areas to focus our efforts in order to foster a safe and sanitary stay, whilst maintaining a positive guest experience.
The booking journey: We have been assessing all touchpoints, both literal and metaphoric, to ensure our messaging is accessible and clear and to keep guests informed about our services as well as the levels of cleanliness they can expect on arrival. We know guests will be searching for accommodation with new keywords and phrases, and have adapted our paid advertising campaigns to reflect this. Our content strategy both on our website and on social media has been repositioned to emphasise the advantages of our apartments and to provide an additional level of reassurance. Ultimately we want our guests to feel just as safe and looked after in their surroundings as they would have been before covid-19, if not more.
In addition, our team has undergone training both in the call centre so they can provide customers with reassurances regarding their personal safety and an overview of our covid-19 precautionary practices.
On arrival: Where interaction is inevitable during the arrival experience, our guests will be able to see first-hand how the business has adapted to the pandemic, including transport with our partner chauffeur service ARP Cars who have implemented a special sanitising regime. We want our guest to feel safe and taken care of, even during their journey to and from their apartment. On arrival at the Residence, our safe distance markings, UV sterilisation technologies, complimentary sanitiser, protective gear and signage around our Residences will continue to work towards keeping our guests safe. As we develop our existing technologies, we are always on the look-out for new ones – we are currently evaluating the use of facial scan and temperature check machines at guest and staff entrance points at our Residences, and providing covid-19 tests for those displaying raised temperatures.
Communication is key to providing peace of mind, and this is where our digital channels have played a significant role. We recently upgraded the Cheval App, unlocking key features available to the user, including an integration with our reservations system, RMS Cloud. This enables Cheval customers to view their booking information and check-in in advance of their arrival. Coupled with the in-app chat function, we can offer a contactless experience and carry out the majority of our existing services at a safe distance. This contactless digital service is something that has proved increasingly popular amongst our guests during this time, and we expect its usage will continue to grow.
During guests’ stay: As a serviced apartment provider, we are fortunate to be able to offer our guests a product that facilitates self-isolation and social distancing, both in this current time and the post-lockdown future. And in the gradual reopening phase of public spaces such as gyms and restaurants, the Cheval App will continue to serve as a reference point for alternative options. From co-ordinated food deliveries to our digital recipe book in collaboration with private chef service La Belle Assiette, the app puts choice into the hands of the guests. Other benefits on the app include home workout videos, meditation and mindfulness sessions with health experts at LIFE Acrobat. Cheval’s guests can take advantage of all of these amenities in their spacious apartment setting and benefit from the multiple room set-up to carry out in-apartment workout routines without feeling claustrophobic or even the requirement to leave the safety of the building, should they wish.
This applies to a working environment too. With ample space for desks and computers, our apartments can also function just as successfully, if not more so, as any home office, thanks to our ultra-speedy 10gb/s wifi connection and all the space and comfort you would expect from a working environment.
On departure: The same level of attention is assigned to the departure experience. Along with the physical cleansing protocols, our colleagues will also maintain communication with guests after departure to establish continued wellness; this is all in the interest of maintaining best protection for future guests.
We know that a recovery for the hospitality industry is on the horizon and certainly our focus will remain as it has always been, around our valued guests and providing a five-star experience. We will continue efforts to keep our guests safe, healthy and in-turn hopefully preserve their passion for travel, as it existed in our pre-covid-19 world.
For more information, please visit: Chevalcollection.com