Checkmate is a startup that began a couple of years ago by building mobile tools for hotels to digitize and monetize the process of guests checking in.
It has since expanded its aperture to include all types of mobile communication between a property and a guest. The company is now especially interested in the "last mile" -- meaning the time between the days before a guest arrives at a property through the guest's departure date.
It has a rare vantage point to see trends in communication between hotels and guests because it has partnerships with various players in the industry. It has serviced half-a-million travelers to date, thanks to these partnerships.
So Tnooz spoke with CEO Drew Patterson to find out what trends he's noticing.
Patterson said that consumer expectations are changing pretty dramatically. He and his 41-employee company has found that guests are increasingly fond of communicating with the staff via text-message style interfaces.
Seamless texting tech
Patterson cites Pew Research to show that SMS-messaging is a favored communication format for people of all ages.
"It's not specific to Millennials," he says, citing a Global Business Travel Association survey released this summer. Corporate traveler managers who were polled said that their customers preferred customizable two-way communication via mobile devices over other types of communication, when available.
On that theme, Marriott is not a client, but Patterson says that the global brand is right to identify text-based messaging as a format to develop because of consumer demand. Marriott's mobile app lets guests send text-style requests to the front desk.
Improved guest satisfaction
The business case for adopting text-style communication is to meet consumer demand faster than ones competitor's, rather than cost savings, per se. Hotels are seeing tangible benefits -- such as improved TripAdvisor rankings and fatter ancillary revenue sales -- directly attributable to improve guest communications via mobile devices, says Patterson.
CheckMate says that one of its client hotels exposed half of their customers to this technology, and half were left as a control group. The hotel group, left unnamed, saw a 20% boost in its Net Promoter Score (a measure of customer satisfaction), on average, after adopting seamless text-style messaging, Patterson said.
Hotels that adopt such technologies and train their staffs to use them find that they tend to receive more positive TripAdvisor reviews from guests that specifically mention the interactions.
Patterson shared multiple examples of hotel reviews on TripAdvisor where seamless texting tech made a difference, whether it was with speeding up check in or preventing service failure.
Partnerships with multiple stakeholders
For guest communications to work, hotels have to engage with customers. But hotels typically don’t have contact details for guests when the customers are referred by a third-party channel like online travel agencies and many aggregators,travel management companies (TMCs), or as part of a group booking. Checkmate is increasingly trying to fill that gap with services.
The startup has signed with TMCs, including 3 of the top 10 largest, such as BCD Travel. It understands TMC digital tools thanks to its partnership with Concur and with Sabre’s TripCase.
Checkmate recently signed partnerships with OTAs and aggregators like Expedia, Hotels.com, Travelocity, and Kayak. It says its hotel check-in service is the first to be integrated into Google Now.
The startup says TMCs and corporate travel departments can join its platform for free through the end of 2015.
EARLIER: Checking in with Checkmate, Drew Patterson’s B2B hotel tech mobile tool