The Concierge. Tradition, Obsolescence and Innovation in Tourism

post by : oriane.gachet


In this summary, we will see how a role figure of the hotel industry, the concierge, is evolving.

First, what is a concierge? A concierge is a traditional key role in the hotel industry. He can be described as “the most outstanding interpreter of luxury service in hospitality”. His role is to provide services, information and advice to the hotel customers but also take restaurant, concert and other reservations for them. The concierge has also other qualities such as empathy and communication skills, as he is in direct contact with the customers.

More and more, the role of concierge is being replaced by various persons or by technology. In less luxurious hotels, the receptionist will often play the role of a concierge. Sometimes, hotels also hire concierge from specialised firms. These private concierges are not part of the hotel staff and therefore have no “memory” of the guests. They can’t build lasting relationships with frequent hotel customers. An example of a private concierge company would be John Paul, founded in Paris in 2008.
Nowadays with the democratisation of internet, more and more customers find information directly on the net. The concierge is only there to confirming and reassuring the guest on the information they already found. They are also expected to give personal advices which cannot be found on internet. More extreme situations occur when technology completely takes the role of the concierge. In Vancouver, the Opus hotel provides an example of a virtual concierge. Customers have a virtual contact with this concierge by answering questions on the internet. Based on their answers, the Hotel provides specific recommendations to the different customer micro-segments.
Robots are also being implemented in hotels’ hall to greet customers, answer their questions and take their reservations. The Connie robot introduced in Hilton hotels is a good example of this new concierge type.

As concierges are traditionally very important in the hospitality field, there is a big controversy around the fact of the concierges being replaced by robots. Virtual concierges are reducing costs and offer very effective customer satisfaction, but an interview shows that customers were still in need of human contact, especially for more specific services.  

The future of concierges in hospitality is slowly disappearing but good news, post internet concierges are likely  reorient themselves in other places like malls, apartment buildings, companies, etc. They might also cover new services like babysitting, grocery delivery, health care and so on to help people have a better balance between their professional and personal life.


Source: Bellini, N., & Convert, L. (2017). The Concierge. Tradition, Obsolescence and Innovation in Tourism. Symphonya. Emerging Issues in Management, (2), 17-25.



Chat bot & Apps development

post by : axelle.varone

People aren’t willing to download hundreds of apps anymore. Studies show that 70-80% of time spent on apps is constricted to a selected few. The most popular ones are instant messenger apps therefore it makes sense to meet the customer where he is already at. Using instant messengers as a way to provide support is only an interim solution. Often the same questions are asked and these can be provided automatically through a chat bot. The chat bot offers a simple method of gaining information without having to download a new app and going through the whole process of finding out how works.

Big tech-companies are currently working on artificial intelligence programs which are able to analyze the context of a question and then provide the right answer. In the meantime the messenger provider KIK is working directly on a simpler chat bot that works like an automatic FAQ webpage. Through typing “@Mention” and adding in the region one is looking to find information on it is possible to summon a chat bot into the conversation to access for example the weather forecast after the information is provided the bot will leave the conversation again.

By now KIK offers a series of different chat bots in collaboration with companies such as Vine or Funny-or-die but also with serious selling companies such as H&M, Sephora or Weather-Channel. It is highly likely that chat bots from companies like TUI or other travel agents are to come on the market sooner or later to give information on top sights, best season to visit, visa regulations and similar topics. This development is a logical effect of the ever growing presence on the internet that is necessary for travel companies to stay competitive.

It is believed that the evolution of chat bots in tourism might end in customers booking their whole holiday through a chat bot. As an example we have Skyscanner who launched a Facebook Messenger bot in May 2016 which helps search for flights. It is not yet possible to book through the app but the company hinted that this and many more functions would follow.

In Switzerland the tourism industry is not yet participating in the chat bot business but the adaption to this new trend will eventually become inevitable.


Instant messaging and Artificial Intelligence - The future of tourism industry?

post by : arnaud.kolly1

Instant messaging is quickly becoming one of the most important tools for tourism industry to communicate with customers. Instant messaging services are mobile application that allow you real-time communication. In addition to live chat, users can also share files, locations and much more (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and Snapchat).

WhatsApp is the most popular instant messaging application with one billion monthly active users. Exceeded by the large number of requests, some companies equip themselves with chatbots to improve their customer service. Chatbot (contraction of “chat” and “robot”) is a messaging system with artificial intelligence capable of interacting with users. Integrated on the website or on social networks, the software analyses the question and provides a personalized answer.

Today, artificial intelligence is perceived as one of the most promising markets. According to numbers from Bpifrance, the global market for smart machines is expected to grow by 53% between 2015 and 2020. Multinationals like Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft have set up a research unit and work together with technology specialized start-ups in order to improve Artificial Intelligence. It is estimated that $ 5.4 billion will be invested in these start-ups in the coming years.

In conclusion, AI is a very lucrative market that is partly explained by an increasing technological dependence and tourism industry should jump onboard. What about you? Do you think that instant messaging and chatbot will be the future customer relationship management tool in tourism industry?


Ski school with GoPro

post by : Mumenthaler Bettina

The ski instructors at the Swiss ski school Belalp are wearing GoPro cameras on their helmets with which they are filming the children during their lessons. The footage can then be purchased by the parents in order to have a memory of the kids' experience in the ski school. This would be an additional promotion for the ski school as well as the destination!


Wi-fi in public transports

post by : Harris Stefanie

Planes & Buses:

Today, inflight wi-fi is something that exists and it is supplied by many airlines, 9 of which offer it for free. There are 2 ways to connect from inside the aircraft: cellular towers on the ground and satellite. At the moment, the quality of the service is not fast enough to allow streaming but some companies are aiming to make partnerships with streaming companies. For example, Virgin America with Netflix and Jetblue with Amazon Prime. Regarding busses, the demand is increasing. The quality of service could be much better because they move slowly and are mostly in downtown areas.



Switzerland has the advantage of being a small country. This comes in handy in terms of quality because there are not many places lacking cellular connection. Some trains are being built at the moment, which will include a wi-fi connection (Twindexx, built by Bombardier Transports). The major SBB train stations in cities are already equipped with wi-fi. Most postal busses are also equipped. Swiss (airline) does not offer inflight wi-fi at the moment.


Advantages VS disadvantages:

For tourists, wi-fi is a cheaper alternative to roaming. In many places where the cellular network (4G) isn’t good enough, if wi-fi is available it is a much better option. If wi-fi gets installed in all public places, it gives us promising perspectives for the future of communication. However, for now the reliability of connection in aircrafts is quite poor. Some improvements need to be made on a technical side. Also, the prices for inflight wi-fi need to become more affordable.


iBeacon - the device which could change your World

post by : Brehonnet Marine

Still partially known in Europe, it became rapidly popular in the Anglophone countries (USA, United Kingdom and Australia). There was already some of them on the market under Android exploitation system but two years ago, one of the biggest worldwide known company launched silently his own new technological product, targeted mostly in business, tourism and hospitality sector. Apple created in autumn 2013, the iBeacon under IOS exploitation system. As simple as his name, this new device is low-cost and revolutionary. Indeed, it is an information transmitter based on a micro localization. It works, mostly inside, on a short distance, in the contrary of a GPS system which works more effectively outside on long distance.

How does it work ? At first, companies using the iBeacon have to place it strategically, as the beacon is static, it has to be fixed preferably in a passing place. Secondly, customers have to download an app and activate their Bluetooth connexion. As the iBeacon permanently sends a signal, when the customer is passing close to the information transmitter, the connexion between both devices will immediately pop up useful information, advices or promotions on the phone through the app. For instance, you are browsing around in the shopping mall and get close to the Macy’s iBeacon, you will, in a second, receive their current sales, opening schedule, information about their new collection and even more.


In conclusion, the iBeacon has an enormous potential in many industries but mostly in tourism. It is economic, ecologic and has a nice sober design.

In our opinion, it is possible to push even more the concept by using the beacon in transportation and hospitality depending on the customer segment. Nowadays, tourists or visitors are also travelling a lot by car, we thought of developing the innovation in parking. An app could be designed to mix parking information and guidebook. Indeed, the parking part could locate your car and give you the closest parking lot, with the availability and prices. As soon as you are parked, the app would register your car GPS coordinates. After your city tour, wherever you are, the app gives you the way back to your parking space. The other useful tool of this app would be a guidebook which according to your location provides sightseeing, restaurants, museums and more.

ABI Research[1] foresees between now and 2019 that the United States will have around sixty millions iBeacon device on their territory.



For more information and details, click on the linked PDF.





[1] ABI Research is a technology market intelligence company with a 25 years’ experience in advising and informing businesses on technology and market investment.