Devon Hotel and Conference Centre

"Providing chat enhances our service paradigm, but it needs to be answered immediately"

Michael Borostyan, General Manager

About Devon Hotel:

The Devon Hotel New Plymouth & Conference Centre (New Plymouth, New Zealand) boasts luxury accommodation and puts you on the doorstep of the CBD and New Plymouth’s most visited attractions.  It is the largest hotel in New Plymouth, a conference centre catering for functions up to 300 people, an all year round heated outdoor pool and spa, a Lounge Bar and the popular Marbles Buffet Restaurant.  It’s a great place to stay for business and leisure.

Large conference and function facilities

Why did you get Yonder?

Michael Borostyan, General Manager at the Devon Hotel, describes how service is a critical value for their business: “Communication is key for us, we want to do our best at every interaction, to provide the best customer service. We do that to ensure we maximise every possible opportunity - making sure that when customers have asked us for something we’ve delivered it.  We do the same for TripAdvisor feedback, we are constantly engaging and keeping track of customers.”

“I knew providing chat enhances our service paradigm.  Our Facebook account was already very active. It helps satisfy a younger audience in particular, many of them don’t want to talk now, so we needed to meet their needs.“

So the option to use Yonder’s digital assistant, responding to website and Facebook Messenger chats was easy. “We need to answer chats quickly, including after hours.  People like speed.  But that’s not easy to do without getting more staff. We run a small hotel team, one or two people on the front desk, and we want them focused on the guest in front of them and chatbot allows us to provide more time for great customer service.”

How have you found it?

“We’ve received so many restaurant bookings that based on that alone it’s paid off a year of Yonder in just a couple of months.”

“It started delivering results really quickly, it was great.  I’d say it started at around 80% [of its potential], we’re now at 85%.  I can see over time it’s learning and we’re optimising the responses to get better”.  

Yonder achieves these early results because of the pre-built artificially intelligent assistant.  Setting up just involves crafting responses for questions and adding in customised questions related to the property.  Yonder works closely with clients to set-up and continuously improve.

Devon Hotel hadn’t used website chat before. After installing “we’ve been amazed at the wide range of questions that get asked, we’ve been learning a lot”.  

A few examples :

  • A customer was having a problem with a specific package in the booking system, so they got in touch and we took the booking through chat.
  • Devon Hotel has a great pool complex and it’s an attraction for people to stay.  The pool is heated to 29degC and the spa to 40degC. Michael describes, “We found people double checking about the pool temperature before they decide to book.”  It’s great to respond with some images of the pool to help seal the deal.
  • People ask for deals.  Devon Hotel can comfortably tell them their prices are the lowest when you book direct, and then we guide them to our booking system.

An all year heated pool and spa, a feature of the hotel

Yonder set-up the digital assistant for Devon with the goal of answering a wide range of questions immediately, take restaurant bookings for the popular Marbles restaurant, divert people to the online booking system, and gather customer details to respond later if it can’t answer.

“I’d say we’re getting around 60% of questions answered without a need for staff help, and I can see it can get better.”

How does your team use Yonder?

In the conversational panel, which the staff uses to respond to messages, the messages are classified as open and closed.  Michael loves this feature, it helps him keep track of what needs attention.  “The way we use it is the front desk responds when they can, and I will review every so often during the day and I’m the only one closing them.  I like doing that because I learn from what people are asking and I check my staff have responded to the right ones and given our best to get business out of the enquiries.”  

Michael also likes the transparency of performance.  “I can easily track performance of the bot including how many clicks through to our booking system we get.  I share all the highlights with our owner.”

What was key for you in choosing Yonder?

“It needed to be easy to use, fit for purpose, and knowledge it will deliver results.  It needed to provide a user friendly experience and add to the value of the business.”

The final comment from Michael, “It pretty quickly demonstrated its value for us.  The team is happy, I’m happy and our owner (who’s pretty demanding) is happy too.”

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