A picturesque hotel in the Great Smoky Mountain range of Tennessee is issuing iPads to its guests in an effort to decrease the number of “Help Desk” calls and increase relaxation.
Situated on a remote 4,200 acres, Blackberry Farm is consistently found in the top of Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards. The resort boasts two gourmet restaurants and full spa services. On-site activities -- include fly-fishing, horseback riding, clay course shooting, kayaking, hiking and biking.
Hoping to increase guest satisfaction and decrease the number of technology complaints, the company began offering iPads for a select number of guests as a pilot program.
"Our guests will arrive, and, instead of receiving a paper itinerary for their stay they can view all of their hotel information from the convenience of their rooms on the iPad," said Nick Dibartolomeo, vice president of finance and IT for Blackberry Farm. "Meeting times, adventure activities, dinner times, seating times, departure time, or anything else that they want to know about the property will be done via iPads."
The resort says it now plans to issue Apple’s tablet to all of its guests starting in 2014.
It starts with good Wi-Fi
The pilot program for issuing iPads and supporting other mobile devices really got rolling once BlackBerry Farms installed a resort-wide Wi-Fi network.
The resort is a frequent destination for high-net worth travelers and business leaders from around the world, so having uninterrupted service was paramount.
Nearly all of the hotel's guests arrive with multiple mobile devices and approximately 150 of the 350-member staff use a combination of laptops, tablets and company-issued iPhones in the course of their daily work.
So Blackberry Farm turned to Silicon Valley-based Maru to supply the wireless network for its guests and staff.
"We needed to be able to offer wireless, not only in the accommodations themselves, but also in many public areas," said Dibartolomeo. "The network needed to be high performance and rock solid, as ours is a very high-end property and our guests expect the best. In the past, we would get anywhere from a dozen to two dozen complaints a month across our many rooms. Now we get few, or none at all."
Currently, calls to the resort’s Help Desk were reduced by approximately 75%.
We’ll leave the iPad on for you
Blackberry Farm is just the latest tourist destination to adopt iPads. Online travel agency Travelocity says 55% of all its mobile bookings are now coming via tablet devices. And while it is very commonplace to allow mobile devices to tap into a hotel hotspot, issuing iPads to guests does have its advantages.
In addition to pre-loading content, including movies and music, guests can bypass the concierge for making dinner reservations and other excursions.
Resort-issued tablets can also be centrally managed, secured, tracked, configured and supported. Experts suggest support for the devices also require minimal training and typically would not strain a hotel's IT resources.