Cutting-Edge Tech Trio Creates Total Interactive Experience

| November 14, 2013

The new and beautiful interior of Swissôtel Chicago isn’t the only thing that went into its recently completed $10 Million renovation; the hotel now boasts some cutting-edge technology unseen anywhere else. Swissôtel partnered with Chicago-based Nervana Group to create a state-of the-art Ghost Wall and a mobile meeting app that is completely unique to the property.
 
The 10 foot by 8 foot Starfire Diamond Crystalline Glass features a 60-inch interactive and transparent touch screen- the largest in the country. Accessible upon entry to the hotel’s lobby, the Ghost Wall serves as a digital concierge and tour guide for guests. Within a few taps guests can be directed to the hotel’s various menus, amenities, points of interest around Chicago, a map, and even a list of flight status’ for guests staying on premise.
 
“Our guests’ needs are not necessarily changing, however, the way they want information is changing,” Nicole Ettenhofer, general manager, explains. “Our guests are satisfied with a combination of digital and human experiences, and in some cases, more digital than human. Because there is so much information available in hospitality, technology is finally allowing it to be readily available to guests. We are providing the tools to empower them to quickly filter through all the information and find the pieces most important to them.”
 
The updated lobby is also anchored by a new dining concept called Amuse which also boasts some amazing tech updates as well. Nervana created an iPad app which allows guests to peruse and even order cocktails and dishes right off of the iPad. The app includes menu descriptions, prices as well as images so people know exactly what they get when they order.  “In addition to our iPad Menus, the menu has alternate views to allow guests to look up recommendations based on Facebook, Yelp, and the most frequently ordered items,” Ettenhofer reveals.
 
Swissôtel Chicago will be the first property to provide meeting planners and attendees with Nervana’s Bonfire Events Management app. This application can be downloaded through most smartphones and will track schedules, flights, and presentations, connects guests via a social site and sends alerts for any changes in scheduling. Not only is it useful for event guests to know the layout, time and location of the day’s events but it allows event planners to make any adjustments or changes in the scheduling in real time.
 
“Swissôtel Chicago understands that our next generation customers embrace mobile and touch technology as it becomes easier to use,” Ettenhofer states. “With this in mind, we were looking to offer technology that meets the needs of our guest. Both the Ghost Wall and Mobile Events App were ideal solutions to our technology necessities.”
 
For the Convention Services and Catering team, the hotel has implemented a technology tool that allows management to seamlessly communicate with event planners by providing a way to send messages, assign due dates and reminders for automatic follow-up.
 
In addition, the Convention Services team utilizes a new iPad App called Xcite that is a highly visual and rich content tool. “By using this technology, the Convention Services team has the capability to quickly show room concepts and layouts with the proper specification data to event planners,” Ettenhofer reveals. “Even more, Xcite can be shared with the event planner's remote teams.”
 
Immediate results and plans for expansion
 

Ettenhofer states that after the deployment, an immediate uptick in excitement of both guests and staff was evident. “Prior to the Ghost Wall, our existing digital signage provided some information important to our guests,” she admits. “The Ghost wall allows our guests to find a large variety of information not only about the hotel, but about the City of Chicago in addition to travel related information. Within the first two weeks of being deployed, the flight times feature on the Ghost Wall was accessed an average of 200 times a day and weather was accessed more than 300 times a day.”
 
Swissotel plans to add more information to the Ghost Wall that will help guests with their visit to the hotel as well as the city. Also, video capabilities will allow guests to navigate the different sections of the hotel and discover the amenities in a matter of minutes. It will also display dining menus and feature restaurant specials as well as happenings in the hotel’s outlets.
 
The Guest Mobile App will deliver in-room dining menus, display the products in the Grab-n-Go store, and allow guests to directly order from their Guest App. “We plan on turning on a messaging feature for the guests to interact directly with the Swissôtel Chicago team for help and assistance even if they are not at the actual hotel,” Ettenhofer says. “For example, if the guest is at Navy Pier and has a Concierge question, the Guest App will allow the guest to send a message to the Concierge and receive assistance remotely.”
 

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