In the hotel business, service is the foundation from which everything is built. From the restaurants and lounges to meeting rooms and conference areas to special events and room service, hotels are constantly reevaluating their service to stay top of mind for travelers.
In 2014, as the Marriott Irvine was amid a five-year hotel renovation, general manager at the time, Scott McCoy was researching ways to make the property stand out as an innovator, and in his research, came across Kallpod, a technology platform that facilitates real-time communication for hospitality operators. That year the Kallpod platform was implemented.
Later in 2018, Kallpod Pro was launched within the hotel as a next evolution to the Kallpod platform. With Kallpod Pro, the company’s next generation platform, Kallpod looked to the Marriott Irvine team as their first hotel partner. Not only was the wifi-based Kallpod Pro successfully launched in multiple guest-facing F&B locations but the company also created a bespoke staff-to-staff room service platform to address a constant operational challenge faced by the hotel and many others in the industry.
“Our hotel is located in the heart of Orange County, and right across from a popular airport, so the majority of our guests are business transient,” said Cindy Han-Reta, Director of Restaurant Operations for Marriott Irvine. “With that in mind, we have come to recognize that the guests we attract are dedicated to the work and meetings they conduct while joining us at the hotel. In order for us to get them to feel at home, while still providing a comfortable environment for them to work, we began to utilize the Kallpod technology.”
After receiving positive feedback from guests and staff members, Marriott Irvine installed Kallpod Pro at the concierge lounge, M Club, and the in-room dining service, Fresh Bites.
“M Club is accessible 24/7, so guests are allowed to enter the lounge even on nights we are closed,” said Han-Reta. “With Kallpod, we are able to still make everyone feel special and provide service to them without having to fully staff the lounge at all times.”
Kallpod helped to improve the in-room dining experience as well, with a customized tablet for a separate waiting area where the room service orders go once they are completed. The chef can notify the food runner via this tablet.
“We’ve all stayed at a hotel and waited a long time for our room service order to arrive -- and it’s usually cold. This is because there wasn’t a good process for notifying the runner, who could be anywhere in the hotel, when the food was ready,” said Gabriel Weisz, CEO of Kallpod. “Now, with Kallpod, the hotel staff’s runners can maximize their time when doing other things throughout the hotel and be alerted when food is ready.”
The solution Kallpod created for Marriott Irvine was the first of its kind, based on the hotel’s specific needs, and can now be integrated into any hotel nationwide. The solution utilizes Kallpod Pro, which is the next step in the evolution of Kallpod. The tabletop device is sleeker and more aesthetically pleasing, the smartwatches can now accept calls to indicate response to a request, and staff members can log in and send messages to each other. Instead of a general request for a server to come to the kitchen, the kitchen can now notify the server that the food is ready for a specific table number. Additionally, Kallpod Pro includes NFC-enabled Bluetooth technology.
“The new Kallpod technology allows us to see which server is frequently being called upon for service, the time it takes for a server to answer the calls on the system, what table is being utilized most frequently, and more,” said Han-Reta, adding that the staff loves the recent update of the look and feel of the watches, with many staff members comparing the watch to an Apple Watch or a Rolex.
“The staff has been able to see the benefits and transformation of service with Kallpod,” she said. “They feel more confident approaching tables, as the majority of the time they know what the guests need -- either service or the check. They were able to find a balance between constant face-to-face interactions and maximizing on special moments.”
In addition to the aesthetic changes, the new technology enables restaurant and hotel owners access to pull reports, analyze specific times of day, including the type and amount of calls, monitor server response times, view heat maps to see which areas of the restaurant are getting the most calls, all of which are helpful for staffing, table layouts and increased operational efficiency. Servers can also see if another server has answered a call, and if not, step in to help.
“We are now starting to see results and data that show patterns instead of single occurrences. In a few more months, we will be able to get a grasp of trends and patterns to be able to plan and staff accordingly,” Han-Reta said. “It has allowed us to provide prompt, extraordinary service by giving the guest the power to call us when needed, and highlights the innovation that our hotel implements each and every day.”
Photo Courtesy of Irvine Marriott Facebook Page