By Mehdi Eftekari, General Manager, Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
On October 3, 2011, Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills was the first hotel on the West Coast and the first Four Seasons hotel in the world to launch the innovative ICE (Interactive Customer Experience™) technology with iPad2 devices in all 285 guest rooms, at the front desk, and in house cars. With an increasing number of technologically savvy guests who prefer indirect contact with the hotel via mobile devices, our goal through implementing the iPads with ICE technology was to exceed guest expectations by offering exceptional service and unique innovative technology.

“Partnering with Intelity and bringing in ICE with the backend management tool has helped us increase our efficiency and improve our ability to track and deliver services to our guests all while decreasing our amount of printed material.”

- Mehdi Eftekari, General Manager

We were certainly successful with the iPad when it exceeded 51,000 impressions the first week it was installed. In order to reach our goal, we partnered with Intelity to link the iPad to their award-wining ICE Technology and we also partnered with OurStay to bring in the Luxury LA app. Implementing iPads has been extremely beneficial to the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills by allowing us to fully serve and please guests, increase our efficiency, provide the latest technology, and increase revenue all while giving us a competitive advantage over other hotels.

We have been very focused on providing the latest technology in order to impress and satisfy our guests. After we successfully installed fiber-optic cables in the hotel’s suites during our 2010 renovation, we decided to go ahead and invest in the iPad2 devices in all 285 guest rooms and suites.

We found that many of our guests own or travel with a tablet or smartphone. Even if our guest has never experienced the iPad before, our front desk agents have two iPads at their disposal to explain how the device works, and the guest interface is very easy to use.

We wanted the iPad2 device to be beneficial and fun for our guests to use as they can order in-room dining or place housekeeping requests while lounging on the couch without having to rely on the phone or collateral. Guests can access any part of the hotel via the different ICE streams for each department and they can have their own luxury concierge via the Luxury LA app. They can also access social media or choose from 35 newspapers to read.

Installing the iPads was a two-phased process for the hotel that tremendously benefited the hotel as it allowed us to offer additional services to guests and gain a technological advantage over hotels without this advanced iPad technology. The first phase was to feature the in-room collateral in the iPads as well as the menus and informational material. The iPad additions to rooms have given us an advantage with marketing since it is easy to create ads and change content on the fly.

With the first phase, the iPad addition not only functioned as an extension to our concierge, but also as an excellent way to keep our guests engaged while helping us decrease our amount of printed material. The interactive iPad gives our guests a much more dynamic experience, versus reading printed materials, and it’s also environmentally-friendly. As Mr. Hassan states, there is “no printing cost associated with updating the iPad, we saved $12,000 in printing costs in just the first year.” Although we still utilize collateral material in the guest rooms, the iPads are displayed where these items were usually located.

The second phase of the project began in August 2012 with rolling out the option for guests to download the Intelity Four Seasons application on their own mobile or personal device. Phase two allows us to extend the service we offer our guests by allowing them to order amenities anytime, even before check-in. For example, a guest can order room service from their personal mobile device prior to check-in, or during a shopping spree at Robertson Boulevard, and on arrival have a meal waiting.

“Guest service is no longer limited to on-site. The iPads and apps have revolutionized how we offer service by allowing us to service every guest prior to arrival, making sure we begin with a great first impression.”

- Mehdi Eftekari, General Manager

When implementing the iPad2 devices we decided to partner with Intelity and their ICE technology for the iPads to service our guests as efficiently and effortlessly as possible. The guest is served via a guest-facing version of ICE while the software fully integrates our software interfaces such as PMS, POS, Restaurant, Spa, etc. The guest portal allows guests to obtain information, access our hotel services, and make reservations. All of our hotel systems are integrated and report in real time using a backend management application, “ICS” (ICE Control System).

ICE increases our staff efficiency by providing direct communication with hotel management. With this technology we can further provide the level of service guests have come to expect from a Four Seasons property. With the ICE platform, we can choose from over thirty-five services to offer our guests. Their requests are sent directly to ICE and delivered to the appropriate department with no need for data re-entry, leaving accurate and immediate data available.

Partnering with Intelity and bringing in ICE with the backend management tool has helped us increase our efficiency and improve our ability to track and deliver services to our guests all while decreasing our amount of printed material. As a result of implementing the back-end management tool we can shorten wait time since requests are sent directly to the person in charge. Instead of calling, guests can input requests via the iPad that are immediately sent to the employee in charge.

Furthermore, with the backend management tool we are able to see the number of hits in each stream while saving money with real time reporting by decreasing volumes of printed material. From the first of January to June 30th we had over 107,000 hits on ICE, that’s 594 hits per day. We had over 11,000 hits in messages, almost 10,000 hits in dining, and almost 8,000 hits in in-room dining. Our guests have definitely been taking advantage of the option of ordering from the iPad with actual requests amounting to 2712 in-room dining requests, 938 PBX requests, 586 housekeeping requests, 221 valet requests, and 154 express check-outs.

Furthermore, the prizewinning ICE technology has allowed us to increase customer experience by allowing the hotel guest to customize their stay and digitally connect with all hotel areas. As mentioned, some of our guests prefer to place orders and deal indirectly versus meeting with our concierge or calling for housekeeping. On the iPad, guests can order room service, make housekeeping requests, purchase spa treatments, contact bellman, arrange for airport transportation, make restaurant reservations, research entertainment and cultural attractions, read the newspaper, contact valet parking, and even purchase the Four Seasons bed. For an interactive experience, we can also program the iPad to greet guests with a personalized video or greeting message.

With our iPads we see ourselves fully capable of servicing guests, whether they are tech savvy or traditional. More importantly, not only has our partnership with Intelity been successful in helping us increase our efficiency and further exceed guest expectations, but it has also given us the opportunity to expand the services we can offer. Guest service is no longer limited to on-site. The iPads and apps have revolutionized how we offer service by allowing us to service every guest prior to arrival, making sure we begin with a great first impression.