By adding iPads as a standard feature to every room, The Leela created a competitive edge and made customers go 'wow'!
The Organization: There’s one thing common to most of the thousands of guests The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts serves annually: They 've tasted world-class amenities in hotels around the world. Which is why, The Leela constantly ensures its properties in eight Indian cities keep raising the bar.
The Project: One of the ways it wanted to do that was to make in-room iPads a standard feature in every room. In The Leela’s vision, guests would use the iPad as a single console to change the temperature and the lighting in their rooms, control devices like the TV and other appliances, and order for food and on-demand movies, among other things. “The idea was to create competitive edge by making this a first-of-its-kind implementation in India and create a ‘wow’ factor for our guests,” says Ravish Jhala, corporate head-IT, The Leela Palaces.
The Challenge: For the idea to work, Jhala needed apps on the iPad to give commands, and devices on each appliance to receive commands. One app, for example, allowed guests to see who was knocking on their doors and allow them in. That required cameras outside each door to talk to the iPad, and a controller on each door to open it.
Building each app in-house and finding controllers for each appliance (TV, lights, doors, etcetera), would take his team too much time. So Jhala partnered with an Apple-certified app developer, DigiValet. The company supplies a controller unit in each room that acts as an intermediary between the iPad and the controllers on the appliances, which it also provides.
The DigiValet controller unit is also linked to other enterprise applications allowing for the hospitality industry’s version of straight-through processing. If, for example, a guest orders for food using the iPad, the cost of his order is sent to the revenue management system. “Integrating the DigiValet controller and the iPad application with core information management system was easy. A standard interface that integrates the two different applications was built by DigiValet and our PMSI partner,” says Jhala.
Another key element of the project was creating an intuitive UI. “Even the slightest confusion in navigating the device would build negative credibility. We had to ensure the icons were large enough for even older people to use with ease, while keeping the design sleek and aesthetic,” Jhala says.
The Benefits: One of the outcomes of integrating the iPad solution with core management systems is real-time information. It ensures, for instance, that when the kitchen can’t serve up a dish, guests can’t order for it, so guests aren’t told 15 minutes after they’ve placed an order that they can’t have it.
“The digital medium offers several advantages over the paper medium. These include easy revisions for price fluctuations, and the ability to track inventory so customers can’t order items that are out of stock,” Jhala says.
Another benefit is increased customer satisfaction. Since the project, guest satisfaction levels have increased by 15 to 20 percent, although not all of that stems from the iPad project.
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