What’s Up With Technology...
Our companies and our clients have varied responses and reactions to the use of technology, so we often have to meet them in the middle or walk the middle path. Some of the greatest benefits can also be banes. So how and what do we use to help ourselves and help our clients, that may not be everything it seems.
Using WhatsApp and its Potential Pitfalls
What a great tool. Easy to use. Free. Fast. Communications can be to one or many through groups or individual messages.
How often leading up to an event do you use WhatsApp (or similar tools) as part of your communications tools with the client and you colleagues leading up to an event and then on site for changes and updates?
But is it that inexpensive. It is important to be aware of the legal boundaries of technology. In most legal jurisdictions WhatsApp messages are not legally binding or admissible as evidence. So if a client confirms something by WhatsApp and you go ahead and procure the service or services and the client has a change their mind or cancels. You have no legal recourse.
Conversely, emails and sometimes SMS’s are admissible in most legal jurisdictions. While we try and get contracts signed in advance, we all know that with last minute changes and mobile clients we don’t always get these or at least get them with all relevant details. An email confirming an event or an item shows contractual intent and if it is supported, has a strong case if there is a legal dispute even without the client’s signature.
But it wasn’t that long ago that emails and SMS’s were in the “grey area” that WhatsApp is today.
There is no need to be wary of the use of technology, but be aware of its limitations and risks.
AMWAY a Case Study in finding “The Middle Ground”.
Recently in Hong Kong, we managed an AMWAY programme out of Australia that numbered 300 delegates and 320 guests in total. The organizer’s brief was that they wanted everything done digitally. So programme content, tour information, lunches, dinners, spas and all other relevant information was to be included on an App. No brochures, no leaflets and no sign-up forms. They built the App in Australia and we filled it with information.
A second part of the brief, was that they wanted delegates to be provided with “semi-guided programmes”. Enough guidance to make them feel “special” and comfortable, but freedom to roam and enjoy at their own speed.
While all that the guests need is and was on the web, there are 3 basic problems with using the “open web”.
- If you are in a foreign country, depending on your service, roaming can be excessively expensive
- Using Google Maps can show you where you are and where you need to go. But it is not “idiot-proof”. It can be difficult to keep on track and you must know your addresses and names correctly.
- Often when you open a service in a foreign country, like HKG or China, the service automatically reverts to the local homepage in the local language. If you have ever seen Chinese Characters and you don’t instinctively know your way around the given page, then you are lost. And last but not least
- Not all services are available in every country you visit
So we used the half and half approach. We built maps for every part of the guest programme from their “sponsored challenge” to their tours. These maps were based on Google, but focused on the guests precise required routing that were loaded onto the App.
On organized programmes we took the guests to the locations and venues and there the guides remained, offering advice, assistance and local knowledge as and when required and asked. But the guests schedule was their own, as was their journey home.
It worked a dream. It created an environment where guests felt safe and looked after in a “foreign city”, but also had a sense of independence and choice. A combination of technology and good old fashioned simplicity.
For their free time many then made use of or did the programmes themselves they hadn’t selected on organized days.
We guided them to places of interest, restaurants and shopping districts. No paper and no expensive roaming fees as it was all on the App and downloadable for free in the hotel.
The guests especially enjoyed the dining recommendations as they were kept limited and focused. A different experience than searching on the open web.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board is using this programme as a Case Study for 2016.
So technology is there to help us and all we need is at our finger tips. But we also have to consider how best to use it in both running our own services and communications and providing our guests with what they need.
For more information, please contact Brian Yin or Gunther Homerlein at firstname.lastname@example.org