Does that journey link back to your brand promise? And have you enabled the convergence of digital and analog customer engagement to add value to your customer’s journey, while simultaneously recognizing those team members who bring this journey to life? Yikes.

This is a challenging proposition for even the best-known brands. Credibly defining this journey, and improving it with new tools and technology while remaining both original and authentic, is vexing operators and marketers everywhere. Throw in an increased need for reliable, consistent recognition to help retain valuable team members, and the challenge becomes nearly insurmountable. Further, for a resort to credibly deliver on its brand promise, every customer touch point must be consistently defined. That first greeting by the valet, the appearance of the lobby area, the handover of the room key by the front desk and the arrival of the luggage in the room—all must be choreographed with your brand promise top of mind. And now, with technology playing an ever-increasing role in the customer experience, from online research and booking to keyless hotel rooms, that customer journey is impacted in profound ways.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

One such technology we hear a lot about lately is gamification, and we are all working hard to invent novel tactics for engaging the customer through new game-centric reward delivery. (In its simplest manifestation, gamification is a restaurant patron playing games on an iPad menu to earn discounts on future purchases.) Gamification is important when considering the future state of the customer journey, but it is actually just one component of a broader vision for marrying the virtual and physical branded resort experience. Gamification can be delivered in some very interesting ways particularly if an organization can construct the infrastructure allowing the scenario I will illustrate here.

Let’s begin this journey with an analog approach to the resort experience: no mobile devices or other technology augments these customer touch points. A customer pulls into your porte cochere, valets her car, checks in at the front desk, goes to her room and waits for the bellman to deliver the luggage. After tipping the bellman, your customer (let’s now refer to her as your guest) returns to the lobby and asks the concierge for lunch spot recommendations on property. It’s notable that today any and all of these transactions, these touch points—with the exception of valet parking—could have been done by the guest on her phone. So let’s now take a detour into the digital and introduce the smart phone into this guest’s journey.

The guest is now sitting in the recommended lunch spot, and a server brings a menu. The server notices the customer’s iPhone and asks if she’s ever played the resort’s online social casino, the company’s free-to-play app. “What’s that?” she asks.

Melding of the virtual and physical customer experience requires team members to be empowered with personal mobile devices. A mobile app, perhaps a marrying of a company’s online social casino and its employee intranet, becomes the primary tool to not only reward customers on-property as appropriate, but to track all customer engagement and all on property activity during the team member’s shift. A “check in” functionality via the company intranet replaces the time clock and becomes the system of record for all employee activity during their shift. Nearly all casinos now offer some variation of the free-to-play social casino, a place to go online to play games on your phone and earn points which can be redeemed at the property. These offerings are great mechanisms for extending brick-and-mortar brands online and give companies another tool for acquiring email addresses for future marketing offers. Additionally, most companies also have some sort of intranet for employee access, with varying levels of utility, such as company news, department bulletin boards, pay-stub viewing, paid time off requests, etc. In this model, the social casino and the intranet can talk to one another and potentially share data. The team member could potentially view the customer’s loyalty account to determine appropriate levels of rewards.

Returning to our example, the server takes out her phone and shows the guest the social casino app in the iTunes store. She invites the guest to download the app and try it out. The server says to the guest, “You can play games for free and earn real rewards redeemable at any of our resorts. And for downloading the app today, I can give you a voucher good for a discount on your meal, and a medallion that you can add to your loyalty program account customer profile.” These medallions can be accumulated for more rewards, discounts and recognition. For example, a guest who visits this restaurant often, “checking in” at each visit via an app on her phone (the so-called “geo-social” model), becomes eligible to receive additional discounts for future meals and other offers.

TEAMING UP

The team member who introduced the guest to the app also “checks in” at the same restaurant, but through the company intranet at the start of each shift. An interface connects the company’s intranet portal to the current time clock management software, retrieving relevant data from the system of record housing all team member on-property activity.

This team member “check in” mechanism is enabled through the company’s intranet, tallying all pertinent team member activity including instances of customer engagement. Through increased customer interaction, the team member can earn badges and medallions to add to her personal intranet profile, which tracks all engagements, contributing to the team member’s overall performance rating.

Each team member has a profile page on the company intranet displaying achievements and rewards alongside any other pertinent information that the employee wishes to share with the company and other team members. There is a tier-based ranking system, recognizing different levels of company activity and customer engagement-based achievements, including personal goals. Team members can be challenged to achieve certain rankings/badges within a specified time frame to earn more accolades, recognition, prizes, etc. Team members achieving certain levels or milestones can “unlock” additional rewards.

Similarly, customers who play online, can “check in” to our venues, and “play” in the casino. Customers can augment their loyalty program membership with additional benefits based on activity both online and offline.

Is this the future of the customer journey and team member engagement?