Branson Family Retreats - Managing hospitality 100% remotely
HOTELIERS' VOICE S2E6
Tyann Marcink Hammond, owner of two brands of vacation rental homes, explains how she adopted remote digital management at all 55 rooms across 13 sites in Missouri without losing the human touch. Tyann has had more than 20,000 guests since 2007, either at the award-winning Branson Family Retreats, purpose-built rentals at Table Rock Lake, or Missouri House, a collection of historical properties in wine country
Tyann says the new technology always has to solve a problem for guests. “You can get tech for everything. In Japan there’s a robot hotel and one person runs the entire place, but you lose a bit of that human touch,” she says.
Tech has to solve a ‘pain point’ for the guest. And we need some human touch so guests don't feel like they're at a robotic hotel
Proving you don’t need a hosted front desk to cater to guests needs; but warm communication is vital. When people book, she doesn’t just send a confirmation email then lapse into silence. Instead, she has 14 touchpoints. “Between booking and arrival, the window could be months, or even two years. But we've set up a process that is automated and digital, but with a human touch,” she says.
“Writer Maya Angelo has said people remember how you make them feel, not what you said or did. For everyone in hospitality, the most important thing is how you make guests feel.”
Touch points include emails, text messages and physical cards in the post. Messages describe potential pain points and how to resolve them. Advice is given about dealing with traffic, grocery deliveries, where to get show tickets, or favourite hikes.
“They know we’re there and we care. We want them to feel like they’ll have the most incredible experience. We get emails saying ‘your communication is so on-point. We know our stay is going to be fabulous, just because you have taken care of us before we arrived’.”
Tyann tells us the most valuable technology is the Digital Book, available through Touch Stay. It offers instructional videos, for example on how to open a difficult lock, or operate the hot tub. But it also shows off the brand and its properties with pictures, logos and colours.
“The Digital Book also explains what to expect when they get there and what to bring. It’s about communicating expectations so if something goes wrong, they don’t freak out as much. They’ll be more informed and calmer.”
Guests choose the codes on the digital doors. About 30 minutes after arrival they receive a phonecall. “I try to make it as non-creepy as possible, just knowing they’ve arrived. But they hear the human voice.”
Wi-fi connected thermostats have locks that prevent them going too high, or low. Meanwhile, noise monitors track decibel levels. Discreet messages are sent if parties become raucous.
The purpose-built properties have enough space for families to gather for meals. A lot of attention is paid to lighting and to creating relaxing outdoor spaces. Guests receive gifts to take home, such as coffee in winter, or an apron with a logo.
Tyann finishes by speaking about how she explores travel stories with her guests on her podcast The Guest Cast.