St. Regis NY GM Discusses New E-Butler Mobile Application

As consumer use of mobile applications grows, hospitality companies are embracing new and creative ways they can help improve the guest experience.  As many hospitality consultants have advised, utilizing smartphone technology is a smart move for hoteliers. Recently, New York City’s venerable St. Regis debuted a new “E-Butler” app for iPads, iPhones, Blackberries and other smart phones. The application, sent to guests via a link after they make a reservation, allows access to the hotel’s butler and concierge team, as well as provides a custom New York City guide developed with local experts and high-profile restaurateurs.  Paul Nash, general manager of the St. Regis, recently spoke with Coyle Hospitality about the apps’ uses.

Coyle Hospitality: What prompted the introduction of the E-Butler application?

Nash: We wanted to further bring St. Regis’ guest experience into the digital age.  We understand the guests’ desire to communicate electronically. With this application, guest requests go directly into the system and are easily responded to, facilitated and managed by the hotel’s associates. It was also important to us to have an application that can be easily updated to constantly evolve.  The St. Regis E-Butler’s content can be updated instantaneously and will be continuously evolving to suit our guests’ needs.

The St. Regis’ signature butler service is well known. Does this application allow for service requests that weren’t possible in a traditional way?

Nash: With the increasing use of technology, we see more and more guests wanting to communicate via email or text messaging. The application gives guests direct access to the concierge team and butlers to assist with everything from a room service order to a restaurant reservation to purchasing tickets to the newest Broadway show. Our hotel associates have the ability to facilitate an increasing number of requests and can now communicate with guests through the application’s chat function.

What are the issues that small hotels might face in developing applications like this one?

Nash: Before hotels launch an application, they must ensure that they have the technology and personnel capabilities to support the app. Guests’ requests go directly into the system, and are handled immediately.

How important is the content (insider city guides) to the application? What was the thinking behind adding extra specialized content to the app?

Nash: With this added “Insider’s Guide”,  the hotel tapped some of New York’s most celebrated personalities – André Leon Talley, Jason Wu, Alexis Bittar, Alain Ducasse, Danny Meyer and David Rockwell – to share favorite shops, restaurants and city landmarks, offering exclusive content that only the St. Regis could curate and provide. We wanted to make the E-butler an all-purpose tool for guests, granting them access to our butler service and concierge team, as well as providing a comprehensive guide to New York City.  We have an ongoing relationship with many of the “insiders” featured in the application’s “Insider’s Guide.”  A number of them are frequent guests and longtime supporters of the hotel. For example, Jason Wu held his Resort Wear show at the hotel in June 2010 and his Spring 2010 collection at the hotel in September 2009.

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