We had a chat with our wonderful Product Manager Vaniah Elmström to hear about her leading role in improving our guests’ customer experience, by giving them the option to select Add Ons to be included in their room bookings. Guests can add products and experiences to their booking prior to arrival to enhance their stay with us.
When was the idea of Add Ons conceived and what is their purpose?
The idea of offering our guests additional products and services is nothing new. However, by increasing the visibility of a hotel’s offerings, guests are now able to manage their preferred Add Ons themselves. During the pandemic, we actively sought out ways to enhance our guests’ digital experience and the idea of Add Ons really took off. A simple and convenient way for these to be integrated in our hotels’ existing processes and systems was key for this to be a success. Moreover, eBerry focuses on delivering a smooth digital experience for our guests, which is very much in alignment with our vision.
Who has been involved in this project?
Since we knew that we would not recruit someone to focus on this new product at that time, I brought people together from across the organisation to come up with the solution that we have today. A truly cross-functional team including representatives from both the business and every single tech team was created to analyse, plan, develop and roll out this offering. We had team-level planning meetings every week, and developer stand-ups three times a week to catch and resolve blockers early, and keep everyone informed of our progress. This brought us all closer together as a company, with several of us visiting and testing the solution at one of our Stockholm hotels together. This might sound like a small improvement and implementation, but it’s important to remember that we have 200+ hotels, so we have to calculate what we can offer at each one. And while it’s been challenging, it’s also been lots of fun as well!
How did you decide which Add Ons were relevant to use?
We drew from several sources to select the initial Add Ons offered. Firstly, we asked our guests which Add Ons they would like to enjoy as part of their stay. This showed that people were interested in having a light meal such as a healthy wrap or a salad if they were checking in late. We also asked the hotels what guests were requesting and purchasing. This included early check-ins, late check-outs, parking spaces, slippers, bathrobes, chocolate, beer and more! Then we spoke to brand managers and food & beverage managers to explore what Add Ons the brand/HQ would like to be associated with. Based on that, we were able to come up with an initial list! We expect to expand this as we roll the offering out to more and more hotels.
What has been the biggest challenge? And what would you say that you and the team have learned during the process?
As mentioned above, we have over 200 hotels, each with their own unique selling points, so aligning the Add Ons offered across a brand or country was never going to be easy. Fortunately, our solution is flexible, meaning that whatever basic product the hotels come up with can be offered without additional development work. Moreover, by limiting the number of non-standard Add Ons that a hotel can request, they can focus on what makes them truly unique. The finance department can also get accurate reporting on the sales of the standard Add Ons across the organisation.
This initiative has been inspirational for our teams as we come out of what has been a difficult time for the travel industry. It’s been an opportunity for all of us to pull together and focus on something substantial, and fun, which will greatly benefit the company. Communication between teams has improved and we have collaborated closely in a constructive way that we hope has formed lasting connections.
What has been the outcome at the hotels that took part in the pilot?
To date we have rolled out Add Ons to three pilot hotels in three different countries. They have all been very successful in several ways, and since the launch, almost 2000 guests have booked Add Ons, either in the app or on our website. The small changes to the hotel processes have easily been incorporated, resulting in a smooth and profitable service. This is just the beginning of our journey of course, and fine-tuning and further development is needed to expand the types of Add Ons that we can offer, and to ensure an even better experience for both our guests and hotel colleagues. I look forward to being part of that journey!