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SPOTLIGHT On Jasen Lew, CEO & Founder, Glowing.io

By Sharon Hirschowitz, Global Head of Media & Communications for The International Luxury Hotel Association
22 July 2022
8 min read
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The International Luxury Hotel Association sat down with Jasen Lew to discuss his vision for the future of guest engagement, communication, and messaging in luxury hospitality, and how Glowing.io can support each hotel’s unique goals. 

In today’s modern world, is text messaging considered luxury?

I believe that, at its core, luxury has not changed. In one light, luxury in hospitality is about maximizing the guests’ energy and time on the things that they want to do, while minimizing energy and time on the things they do not want to do during their stay. Guests would prefer not to stand in a queue for a long time upon their arrival, but they would rather go straight to their room or the pool and order a refreshing drink. They want their whole stay experience to begin as smoothly as possible.

Jasen Lew, CEO & Founder, Glowing.io

During Glowing.io’s inception 7 years ago, we were one of the first messaging companies in the market and the only international messaging company. It was at that period that everyone was comfortable sending back-and-forth messages to their friends and families. However, hotels were uncertain if guests would also be comfortable messaging the hotel directly. In the hospitality industry, luxury is being able to provide guests with options and make them feel at home. A good example of this would be when guests arrive in the hotel, their luggage may be taken directly to their room and unpacked as they prefer or have their favorite bottle of wine waiting for them, chilled to the right temperature. These are what define luxury in hospitality.

The Glowing.io team thought that it makes sense to use the form of communication that guests are most comfortable with while building personal relations between the guest and the hotel, and creating a more personalized stay. Ours has always been about leveraging technology to help our clients have more engaging, personal relationships with their clients.

With Covid-19, what have you seen with guests and them wanting to message?

Around April 2020, we hit rock bottom in terms of messages and conversations exchanged on our platform. However, a remarkable thing happened 3 months later: In July 2020, Glowing.io rapidly bounced back and we actually surpassed our pre-COVID records, and continuously grow by 20% month-over-month.

Before the pandemic happened, messaging was already the second most preferred form of communication. Upon discussions with hotels, guests, industry leaders, and from our own data, it seems that today, messaging has now become the number one preferred method of communication.

“IN A SENSE, THE DEFINITION OF LUXURY IS THE SAME, IT’S JUST THE DELIVERY THAT HAS CHANGED.”

Messaging accelerated from COVID-19… 

Record and accelerating number of messages exchanged on platform since July 2020, even with many properties shutdown and/or at limited occupancy. 

Why are guests starting to use more messaging in today’s time? 

We have always taken pride in our clients’ TripAdvisor reviews, especially the ones that would mention messaging and when guests say that they love messaging the property. Guests prefer messaging to book or buy almost anything. Imagine you are at the pool and want to order a drink, but you cannot see any staff in sight for them to take your order, you will get frustrated and will decide to just not buy anything. If the hotel has a messaging platform, it makes it easy for guests to book an airport transfer, a spa treatment, or even order room service. is almost like having an assistant in your pocket that is ready to serve you 24/7, any day of the year. , a lot of guests have really embraced messaging during this pandemic as it allows for social distancing – they have the physical distance they feel comfortable with, but still feel personally connected. 

One very interesting outcome of these personal connections being made is we found that 10% of guests who messaged the hotel during their stay are more likely to book directly for their return by messaging. With this in mind, we are also working on a very interesting project that will assist with collecting payments through messaging. 

On a side note, some of our hospitality clients have already removed the tablets from the room as guests would prefer to use their own devices. Tablets are trickier for guests to use as you cannot take them with you, the hardware gets old, and in six months to a year, they can make you look outdated. Guests are expecting to communicate with the hotel in the moment, they do not want to pick up another device or download an app. 

In designing our messaging solution for hospitality, specifically for the luxury and resort segments, we keep in-mind three core design principles: “make life easy” (no dodgy enterprise software), “make it 10x better”, and “enchant me”. Our goal is for everyone who uses Glowing.io, from the guest to PBX to the General Manager, that they find it easy, extremely valuable, and enjoyable to use. 

What is the value of messaging to hotels and their team? What is the ROI for them? 

We have found that at our client properties, we are able to capture at least 1 out of 8 “leaked revenue” opportunities. Great examples of these opportunities are when a guest by the pool wants to order food but no hotel staff is in sight, or when a guest that is outside of the hotel wants to make a dinner reservation. These revenue opportunities are lost and will also mar the guest’s experience. With our global footprint, for instance, in the Middle East, the numbers of leaked revenue opportunities are even higher. 

This impact on leaked revenue opportunity bleeds into other industries where we also operate, including stadiums and country clubs. The primary revenue comes from the event tickets or membership fees. Glowing.io helps to drive ancillary spending on other things such as food and drinks. For example, one of our clients in professional sports, the Sacramento Kings, leverages using Glowing.io by allowing fans to message food requests during the game. 

From a customer experience perspective, being able to meet your guest regardless of where they are, have a direct impact on satisfaction scores. One of our client brands did research on guests who messaged during their stay as compared to guests who did not message during their stay. The brand found from this study that guests who messaged them are reported to have a better experience and scored 10 points higher on their satisfaction scores as they were able to resolve problems, address any issues, and cater to their requests at the moment.

A different client brand shared with us that they chose to send their post-stay surveys through Glowing.io since they had received more engagement through messaging than emails. The post-stay survey resulted in over a 100% increase in response rates when sent via messaging.

Furthermore, an operational ROI to consider is that with messaging, the hotel’s frontline staff do not have the real-time pressure to solve the problem immediately while talking to an irate guest over the phone. Messaging gives them those extra moments to reach out to colleagues (which is possible through Glowing.io) to get the information, do an investigation or ask for help which reduces pressure on everyone.

PBX uses multiple systems, but Glowing.io integrates systems so that tickets can be created within Glowing.io, making the whole workflow more streamlined and efficient. Guests are also able to directly message the people on their team and share with the concerned departments.

What are the challenges that prevent hotels from adopting?

Initially, I would say that they have an understanding that technology is not an inhibitor of luxury or delivering memorable experiences, but instead, see it as an enabler and enhancer to be on par to the level of experience that most guests want nowadays.

Secondly, hotels would assume that adopting messaging as part of their communication is harder than it is. Everyone nowadays intuits messaging and is now part of their day-to-day life. We at Glowing.io can turn on a property in a couple of days, but most of our time is spent on operational training, sharing SOPs, and best practices so that we ensure we do not just deliver a “technology that sits on the shelf”, but instead deliver a solution that everyone, from the General Manager to the guest, value.

Overall, adopting Glowing.io is not a huge or complicated tech project. Glowing.io is cloud-based, and there is no huge capital expenditure. We help you to set it up and conduct training (which can be done remotely). There is no need to buy hundreds of tablets to use Glowing.io. All the staff who have used it have enjoyed and loved using it because it is easy to learn and makes their lives easier. The owners also get to enjoy having it in their business because it helps to drive the top and bottom line.

To conclude, with messaging being the most preferred communication, all guests will want to message. Guests nowadays are looking for hotels that offer messaging and services that adapt to these new times. I would encourage any hotel professional to have a look at the services we offer on our website – www.Glowing.io – and do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We love being able to connect with hoteliers from all across the globe! 

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