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Dolce Hotels: Modernizing through mobility

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Guests staying at any of the 24 Dolce Hotels and Resorts will notice a common theme: quality. The characteristic is ingrained into each location and every aspect of operation. Even those behind the scenes are committed to quality. For VP of IT John Edwards, quality is defined by innovation through technology.

The IT staff at Dolce Hotels, a chain of hotels in the U.S. and continental Europe specializing in delivering an exceptional meetings experience, has been steadily integrating mobile devices into its operations for more than four years.

In 2010, Dolce was exclusively a BlackBerry enterprise. Edwards saw that the mobile technology climate was beginning to change, and he quickly warmed up to the idea of modernizing Dolce’s mobile strategy. “It was clear that we needed something to replace all of our BES servers,” says Edwards, a decision that was precipitated by Dolce’s growing global presence and the need to move to the cloud.

“It’s not easy for a small business to stand up environments and redundant environments around the world. We really needed a mobile device management (MDM) solution that was 100 percent cloud.” Edwards and his team surveyed their options, and after reviewing three MDM solutions, chose AirWatch. “While traditional factors like capability, performance and longevity came into play, we chose AirWatch because of the SaaS option. It seems so normal now, but a few years ago, it was not as common to find a 100 percent SaaS solution,” says Edwards.

Edwards wasn’t afraid of diving headfirst into a new mobile strategy. Dolce has offered its employees a bring your own device (BYOD) program since rolling out AirWatch. But another deployment model – corporate owned, personally enabled (COPE) – has gained more traction. COPE devices provide Dolce’s IT staff with the best of both worlds, says Edwards. Employees don’t need to pay for their own devices, but can still use them as they wish. And for the company, COPE devices have increased staff availability.

“We run a 24-hour operation and need the ability to communicate with our staff, especially management, 24/7,” Edwards says. Providing mobile devices or allowing employees to use their own device helps Dolce maintain open lines of communication. Employees even have the choice to port their number, so they don’t have to change numbers when joining or leaving the company. Dolce employees have both the devices of their choice and the flexibility to choose the deployment model they prefer.

More connected employees have helped to speed up everyday tasks, leading to a better guest experience. Employees now receive real-time notifications of guest requests on their mobile devices, which means they can often fill them faster, says Edwards.

Mobility is also helping Dolce break down the barriers of the traditional front desk. Dolce’s most critical systems are now mobile-enabled, allowing employees to check guests in and out from anywhere on property. The concept was mind-boggling at first to some staff, says Edwards. “Once they got comfortable, the ideas started flowing. At our Napa (California) facility we’ve enabled our customers to check in from anywhere on the golf course, the vineyards or anywhere else on the property. And at our Aspen (Colorado) facility, employees can check in large groups at the airport or the ski lodge,” says Edwards.

Soon, Edwards will be putting Dolce mobile devices into the hands of guests. “Right now, we are in the process of rolling out two solutions that will be customer facing,” Edwards says. The devices will be managed by AirWatch and locked into kiosk mode, though Edwards wouldn’t elaborate further on how the devices would be used. But one thing is certain: Edwards will continue to innovate with mobility to improve operations and enhance the guest experience.

Scott Solomon

Scott Solomon is an Atlanta native and University of Georgia graduate who has spent the past six years studying technology, though his passion for the subject has been lifelong.

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