The General Manager of VIVA Wyndham, Claudio Natella, had a vision in 2016. At the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, he was offered a tablet from which you could order any service you wanted. A couple of years later, he faced a problem while working for Viva Dominicus. Each week, they managed 17,500 table reservations. The process used to generate up to 2 hour-long queues, so they needed to automate it. How were they able to accomplish this? Through the implementation of STAY.
Viva Wyndham is a prestigious resort chain in the industry. It was the first Dominican Republic-based chain to have a "global positioning" since 1987. In its resorts division, it operates 8 properties with 3,000 rooms. In addition to reducing queues at their restaurants to virtually zero, STAY has helped them automate reservations.
Restaurants at VIVA Dominicus
Restaurant reservations managed through STAY monthly
Unique users in Q3
Viva Wyndham Dominicus needed to eliminate restaurant reservation lines, which could sometimes take 2 hours
Claudio Natella is the General Manager at Viva Wyndham. The relationship he had with STAY began before he was even aware of the company.
It dates back to 2016.
The Italian manager stayed at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills while on vacation. During a poolside rest, they gave him a tablet: "Sir, you can order everything from this device". Everything from cocktails to sandwiches.
“It's extraordinary, this isn't traditional hospitality," Natella thought.
“What a wonderful and practical idea. This digitalization of services, accessible even from hammocks, is considered an innovation in 2022. So you can figure out how I felt six years ago."
“When you visit other properties, you are always looking for innovations and improvements. At that time, there was a lot of hustle and bustle in VIVA when clients made restaurant reservations and I was thinking how we could improve this.”
“If drink and dinner orders were already automated in 2016... There must be a technology company that can streamline my hotel's reservation process", he thought.
Natella started working at Viva Wyndham Dominicus in 2017, a year after visiting Beverly Hills. The hotel had nearly 1,200 rooms, and direct clients were not the norm, but the exception. “Ninety-five percent of our guests come from tour operators."
How does Viva Dominicus daily routines differ from other hotels?
“Every Saturday, three charters of Italian clients landed simultaneously, carrying 272 passengers each. They all wanted to book a table in one of our nine restaurants. They had to make all the reservations at our front desk and it took a lot of time."
In Natella's opinion, "before digital came into play, guests knew what to expect."
As technology developed, clients demanded a modern solution to the problem. Eventually, they became frustrated by long queues, especially when they couldn't find a table after waiting so long.
“In order to reduce queues, we needed to find a digital solution. STAY was such solution.”
“At our resort, 800 guests can arrive at the same time; when they all wanted a table, they had to wait for up to two hours to make a reservation. STAY gave us the opportunity to reduce or eliminate waiting times”.
General Manager of VIVA Wyndham
An automated system that lets guests book without queues and from anywhere with their smartphones
Natella was ahead of the curve when the pandemic caused an acceleration in the technological revolution related to the guest experience. "In 2019, during a corporate meeting of my hotel chain, the vice president of operations asked my department and me to suggest technological innovations that could be implemented in our chain. A lightbulb flashed in my head and I remembered ordering a pina colada in Beverly Hills years ago using the famous application."
"At that time, at our hotel and chain, we were facing the challenge I mentioned earlier: reducing queues for restaurant reservations, which sometimes resulted in waits of two hours, leading to frustration".
Claudio Natella jigsawed the puzzle pieces together:
The Beverly Hills app… The problem they were trying to solve… As well as the corporate meeting where they were asked to provide imaginative solutions that would enhance VIVA's brand image.
VIVA and STAY began their relationship at that exact moment.
"When I searched online, I found a feature that STAY offers for the digitization of a guest's stay that could solve our problem." After contacting Guilermo Horjales, everything went seamlessly as he explained to me all that STAY could do for us.
"Parallel to that, I began knocking on the door of our Santo Domingo’s IT department. As a result of my experience in Beverly Hills, I wanted to suggest a solution, but my department didn't quite understand what I had in mind."
The internal debates are still fresh in Natella's mind. “There were discussions, which are necessary in departments attempting to resolve issues. In order for a team to be successful, all members must have a say."
A system that would only receive reservations and require employees to manually enter them was considered initially.
However, the problem remained unsolved because "imagine if you had to enter a number of simultaneous reservations with that system. We needed a system that could handle the entire booking process automatically. We had to make it possible for our clients to book a table digitally, from their smartphones.”
“I have 2,500 reservations per day at my hotel. There are 17,500 weekly and 70,000 monthly reservations on average. We convinced our IT department to implement STAY as part of VIVA's quest for excellence."
“A demo and a pilot test were scheduled. We tested STAY in a smaller 400 room hotel for just 15 days as a pilot project. Two weeks later, we realized it was exactly what we were looking for. After trying STAY, we immediately requested the native app”.
Viva's General Manager explains the instant results below...
“After 15 days testing STAY's solution, we decided it was what we were looking for and we asked for a native app”.
General Manager of VIVA Wyndham
Lobby lines have disappeared and frustration has
also diminished thanks to STAY
Natella speaks enthusiastically about STAY and describes its results in detail during the interview.
"Digitalizing the entire process and enabling reservations through smartphones improved hotel operations, waiting times, and VIVA's image. This resulted in an improved guest experience."
"There are no complaints anymore, I'm completely satisfied," says VIVA's General Manager. It is important to emphasize that the implementation was quick and simple. Every now and then, little things need polishing, but do you know what's best? STAY's customer service department is always available for us. Whenever an issue arises, they resolve it very quickly."
Our clients, who usually check in at night, used to have to queue and book a restaurant at 7am before the implementation of STAY. All of that has gone away with STAY, including the frustration. Almost everyone owns a smartphone. Now, our clients are relaxed in hammocks with their families. They wonder... “Where are we going to have dinner tonight?”
Then, using the hotel app on their smartphones, they check out their options. It's something they do while sunbathing, for instance. They look, decide and make a reservation. They don't have to move, it gives everyone a lot of freedom.”
“The guest service department had become a mechanical tool for making reservations. Thanks to STAY, our employees have more time to devote to the well-being of our clients. ‘Are there any problems in your room?’ ‘Is there an issue with your flight?’ We can dedicate our time to it. We had much less time before STAY."
Viva's use of technology enables their receptionists to turn into hotel ambassadors. “We have 1,069 employees, and through STAY, we strive to automate simple processes while maintaining a humane approach in situations where it is necessary. The use of technology does not reduce the number of employees. Our operations have been optimized, since the staff remains the same, but with STAY, they can focus on the client's well-being”.
If asked if he would recommend STAY to a colleague, Natella answers emphatically. “Yes, I would repeat my decision a thousand times, without hesitation. The implementation of STAY has drastically changed my perception of hotel operations, bringing heaven down to earth. It has been a success, I am extremely satisfied”.
As such, he adds interesting notes beyond the original problem that was raised and which STAYS solved. “Keeping track of reservations digitally and keeping track of our restaurants' food needs allows us to save money. It's a profitable and sustainable tool. We waste less raw materials, we are more sustainable."
“Furthermore, it is convenient, as guests can make reservations from anywhere, at any time, without unpleasant surprises. STAY offers hotels a wide range of possibilities and functionalities, which we intend to exploit in the short and medium term."