Ascott revamps digital ecosystem to complement rewards programme

CapitaLand’s wholly owned lodging business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott) has embarked on a digital ecosystem transformation to support its global lodging portfolio. Through this move, Ascott aims to drive revenue growth, improve operational efficiency and enhance value to its customers and business partners through a front-to-backend systems makeover.

In line with its digitalisation initiatives and to complement the launch of Ascott Star Rewards, Ascott has revamped its booking websites to enable members to access their rewards, redemptions, booking history and preferences on a personalised dashboard. It has also enhanced members’ online experience by streamlining its room booking process from six to three steps.

According to a statement from the company, Ascott’s other digital initiatives underway include using advanced emotion analysis of guest reviews to sift out customer insights for operations, marketing and branding strategies. It also includes an enhanced customer relationship management system for Ascott’s sales workforce to access and capture information on corporate clients on their mobile devices while managing leads on the move.

In addition, Ascott has also introduced service robots in China to perform a suite of tasks including providing concierge services, leading guests to their rooms or facilities at the property, delivering clean laundry and packages, and providing refilling room supplies. According to the company, this has increased productivity by about 40%, allowing Ascott staff to spend more time to interact with guests.

Meanwhile in the Singapore market, Ascott offers the use of self check-in kiosk with facial recognition, which the company said reduced check-in time for guests from five minutes at the front office to two minutes at the kiosk.

As part of Ascott’s digital transformation efforts, Ascott Star Rewards will offer members no cap to the points that can be earned, no minimum points required for redemption, no blackout dates, and even the option to nominate other guests to earn points. Ascott is also upgrading to a cloud property management system. This will then allow Ascott to interface with new systems as it scales its business, and to consolidate guest and reservation data across all properties. To better predict customer demand and maximise revenue growth, Ascott will also adopt a revenue management system tailored for long-stay business with IDeaS, a revenue management solutions provider.

Kevin Goh, Ascott’s chief executive officer, said Ascott has grown its global portfolio at a compound annual growth rate of 32% over the past four years. According to Goh, 2018 was a record year with the addition of over 30,000 units, extending its footprint to over 170 cities across more than 30 countries. Goh added that Ascott looks to grow its asset-light business model through management contracts and franchise deals to achieve its target of 160,000 units globally by 2023. “The ability to expand and multiply efficiently is paramount. Technology is therefore a critical enabler to succour this rapid expansion and boost our multiple revenue streams,” he said.

He explained that to augment the growth of Ascott’s lodging brands, which now stands at 13, the company has to be smarter about the sales and distribution of these various brands to ensure it delivers the right products for its guests. By combining the technology of cloud commerce, revenue and customer relationship management applications as well as location analytics, Goh said Ascott will be able to capture an “unprecedented level” of data, both online and offline.

“We will then be able to customise entirely unique experiences based on our guests’ implicit and explicit preferences. To sharpen Ascott’s competitive edge to stay ahead of the curve, we must continue to harness technology to reinforce our strong international network of customers, boost employee productivity, gain cost advantages from economies of scale and strengthen our operations,” he added.