How the Waldorf Astoria integrated digital amenities without sacrificing traditionalism

2019-08-08

For the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh The Caledonian, the monetary and environmental impact of ordering printed newspapers and magazines on a daily basis just didn’t make sense. So, choosing to go digital was easy. How did they reimagine their service without sacrificing their legacy, or commitment to personalization? 

 

A strong foundation 

The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh The Caledonian is a 116-year-old period property that has dutifully maintained its design, its elegance, and its high standards of service through years of major change. Through a century of acquisitions and portfolio shifts, not to mention the ebb and flow of industry trends, the Waldorf Astoria has stayed true to its luxury service roots. 

While the world outside the Waldorf Astoria’s walls might have changed over the last 100 years, the hotel has managed to remain attentive to and invested in the individual needs of every guest. 

“Our service is based very much on personalizing according to the needs of every guest that walks in the door,” says Dean McVey, Front of House Manager at the Caledonian. “We have a fairly unique service called Personal Concierge which is a pre-arrival to post-departure point of contact. That feeling, knowing that there’s one person dedicated to taking care of you during the entire stay, I think it makes a massive difference in the entire experience.” 

 

The Personal Concierge can help a guest do anything from booking spa time to organizing a helicopter tour.  

That personal touch helps the Waldorf Astoria begin building a strong relationship with its guests even before they walk in the door.  

So, what happens when the hotel wants to start connecting with guests in an online space? How does the Waldorf Astoria’s digital transformation strategies reach that same level of personalization? 

 

Choosing choice, both online and offline.

“If you look at the demographics of our guests that come in through the door, you’re looking at people from about 30 different countries,” says Dean. “If every country has two or three main newspapers, you’re up to 100 papers that you might need to be looking at daily." 

Many of those guests won’t be properly served by a single paper.  

 

Being five stars is all about choice

Our custom solution for the Waldorf Astoria needed to focus on and delivering personalized choice to the hotel’s guests. It needed to open up a world of possibilities, not detract from the experience the hotel had crafted. 

So, as we worked with the hotel to build a strategy, we focused on two key areas: 

 

1. Maximizing choice 

It’s not that PressReader has created new personalized content choices that didn’t exist before. Newspapers and magazines often have their own apps and they’re often low cost, but it’s bringing them together that makes the personalized customer experience worthy of a 5-star property like the Waldorf Astoria. 

“That’s why something like PressReader is fantastic,” says Dean. “To be able to tell the guest that, from any country in the world, they can download a title and read it in their own language that’s what it’s about.” 

 

At the Waldorf Astoria, PressReader is made available to guests through the hotel internet’s landing page. Connecting to the WiFi presents guests with a simple choice: would you like to read? 

If they do choose to use the app, they’re presented with even more choice: what would you like to read?  

It’s a simple set of steps but it’s designed to keep guests engaged, interested, and in control.  

 

2. Minimizing change 

Dean and the team at the Waldorf Astoria are keen on the ways technology can help them run their core business, but they’re also aware of the way some tools can push up against those luxury touchpoints that have made the Waldorf Astoria what it is. They wanted to be careful about interrupting their history of one-to-one service.  

So,we looked at the ways in which guests engaged with the hotel were changing.  

“Whether they want to communicate with you via text message or phone call or email or something else, the guest is going to find a way that suits them,” says Dean. “So, we’ve got to be personal in a way that matches how the guest wants to interact, rather than be stuck in an old-fashioned way, face-to-face.” 

 

PressReader helps guests engage with newspapers and magazines a traditional hotel offering in a way that makes sense to them today. It helps the Waldorf Astoria embrace technology and provide choices that matter without taking away from their core strengths. 

“It’s still a luxury experience,” says Dean. “You’re somewhere else and you’re going to do something that’s a bit of a treat, flip through a magazine you might never actually buy under regular circumstances. It adds to that feeling of being away, being on an escape.” 

 

Exceeding Expectations 

For the Waldorf Astoria, PressReader is just a piece of a larger puzzle. It’s a small part of the hotel’s overall engagement strategy. 

“We have to treat our customers as individuals,” says Dean. “That’s how you get those relationships built. And, if you personalize something for someone, completely, why would they want to go and stay anywhere else?” 

 

The proof of that is in the way impact PressReader has had on the Waldorf Astoria and its guests. 

“Because of the demographics of our guests, and the kind of hotel we are, I didn’t expect the amount of uptake we have,” says Dean. “It was surprising to see such a large uptake, and to see how our guests have taken to PressReader. Not just to catch up with current news, but also to have a glass of champagne and read Vogue at three o’clock in the afternoon.” 

 

Again, it’s all about choice and meeting customers expectations.  

There are guests that use PressReader for business and others that use it for leisure. The titles that guests of the Waldorf Astoria actually read are a constant surprise for Dean. It’s so much more than a quick news update. Reading in and exploring the app is a personalized experience itself. 

“Fundamentally, behavior and expectation is moving toward the experiential side of things,” says Dean. “No hotel is going to be successful if they think that all they’re going to do is offer people a bed, a plate of breakfast, and a hot shower. However luxurious that bed is, and however wonderful that shower or that breakfast might be guests want more.” 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about supporting your engagement strategy with a digital solution like PressReader, get in touch with the sales team. 

Case Studies Hotels