Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has launched an update to its Four Seasons App that is noteworthy for a new trip planning itinerary feature. Using the app, guest can now “curate” their Four Seasons stay, from ordering an in-room meal to requesting a morning newspaper, reserving a spa treatment, booking adventures, arranging transport or making dinner reservation.
They can do this “all while in contact with a concierge on-call,” according to a company statement touting the new software release. “The app layout also makes arranging activities (on-or-off-property) simple and intuitive, with scheduled items conveniently displayed on the in-app itinerary.”
Since last year, Four Seasons guests have reportedly exchanged more than 5.7 million messages using Four Seasons Chat, 1.3 million of which were sent via the Four Seasons App. Given those numbers, it only makes sense that the prestigious luxury brand, which currently operates 115 hotels and resorts and 43 residential properties in major cities and resort destinations in 47 countries, would invest in improving its digital service offering while further integrating solutions that drive personalization and enhance the overall guest experience.
Functions and features of the Four Seasons App now include the ability to make and manage reservations, request luggage pickup, airport transfers, room service, restaurant and spa reservations, and tee times. Wait-free check-in and check-out is also offered.
The app design refresh also includes increased integration with Four Seasons Chat, which is now available on nine platforms globally, and enables guests to communicate in real-time with property teams before, during and after their stay. Since launching Four Seasons Chat in October 2017, guests can send and receive instant messages with property teams before, throughout, and after their stay via multiple channels.
In addition to WhatsApp, guests can use the Four Seasons App, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, KakaoTalk, LINE, Apple Business Chat and SMS, with Web chat on fourseasons.com in pilot phase (with roll-out across the portfolio this year). Four Seasons Chat is currently available in all 115 Four Seasons hotels and resorts, 27 residences and the Four Seasons Private Jet.
Unlike several other major hotel brands, Four Seasons launched its multi-channel messaging platform without the use of chatbots. The service continues to be powered by humans, without the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Which isn’t to say the renowned Canadian hotel group isn’t making use of innovative technology. For starters, the messaging platform translates 100-plus languages in real time, allowing for response times reportedly averaging 90 seconds or less.
While the hotel industry has come to embrace mobile communication, ranging from concierge apps and in-room iPads to comprehensive and increasingly sophisticated apps, luxury hotels have tended to be slower than hotels in other categories to adopt texting and chatbots. This has been the case mainly because luxury hotels pride themselves on their heritage of high-touch, face-to-face customer service. The idea of relegating even a small percentage of those interactions to a machine has proven to be hard for executives at some upscale hotel groups to swallow.
The humans-behind-the-curtain approach to messaging that Four Seasons has adopted would seem to offer a hybrid solution that marries the efficiencies and convenience of technology enablement with the benefits of good old-fashioned customer service delivered by living, breathing people who are well-versed in customer care and enhancing the guest experience.