Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Tim Dickson, Director of Technology for Auberge Resorts, a boutique luxury hotel company with hotels in seven locations, including the Auberge Resorts, Esperanza Resort, Calistoga Ranch, Solage and Malliouhana, a new property in the British West Indies. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.
It may seem counter-intuitive in an industry that strives to offer a more human touch, but at Auberge Resorts we try to minimize guest interaction with staff. Our luxury hotels offer immersive experiences ranging from mineral baths and wine tastings in Napa Valley to private casitas overlooking the Sea of Cortez in Baja Mexico. The less time our guests spend at the front desk, the more time they have to explore all that our properties have to offer. So we purchased Chromebooks for our guests to check in and out at their convenience — whether that’s from the pool or their room — but they don’t have to wait for us.
Employees at our resorts and residential vacation rental properties will be using Chromebooks behind the front desk for the day-to-day operations soon, too. They’re easy to deploy and support, which saves us money from an infrastructure and maintenance perspective and makes life easier for the small IT teams in our various locations. Plus, Chromebooks automatically check for security updates and download them as needed, saving our team from the tedious task of installing frequent patches. We can focus on providing the best services and experience for our guests, instead of dealing with computer issues.
We also switched our 2,000 employees from Microsoft Outlook to Google Apps. One of our primary goals in moving to Google Apps was to improve coordination among sales and marketing staff across the company. Employees at the resorts and offices in New York, San Diego and Los Angeles can share the same documents and spreadsheets. Sales associates can work in the same doc at the same time and see which potential guests have been called so they can avoid duplicating efforts.
Using Google Apps hasn’t just improved our productivity – it’s changing our corporate culture. Meetings used to be boring: people sat on phone calls, reading from agendas. Now, employees are excited to have discussions over Google Hangouts. They bring out our employees’ creativity and personalities, and they getting to know each other better as a result. During a recent companywide Hangout to share updates about our sustainability efforts, teams from the different resorts acted out skits to relay stories about their conservation efforts. One team installed a chicken coop on their property and wore chicken costumes on the Hangout as part of their performance, and another group told their story using a children’s rhyme.
Google Apps and Chromebooks are bringing our employees closer together, helping us improve communication and productivity and enhancing the resort experience for our guests in ways we never dreamed of before. The technology allows us to improve our customer service in a unique manner, to offer visitors more flexibility and convenience and to set our resorts apart. Guests still get the smile and top-notch service they expect from our friendly staff, but we let them be in control over their own experiences.