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Hotel Uses Mobile Concierge To Drive Store Traffic

HotelcommonwealthBoutique Hotel Commonwealth has installed a telephone-based virtual concierge system (WSJ subscription required) to make it easier for VIP guests to connect with local merchants and entertainment options. The system is driven by cordless handsets with PDA-sized screens. Frequent guests can keep the same extension.

For local retailers like high end jewelry store Persona, this has been a godsend. "It’s not about sales; it’s about relationships," says co-owner Margarita Druker, who also serves champagne to customers as they shop, updates store displays frequently and holds store events twice a month. All of these things help Persona tell a story to the Hotel Commonwealth's VIP guests, who are more likely to be interested in one-of-a-kind fashion items, trendy accessories or fine jewelry lines.

The VIP clientele focus has meant rather than keeping established business hours, Druker and her partner Gary Shteyman often stay late or come in early. The store follows up on its sales by sending small gifts, personal cards and emails to clients. Recent events have included a Girls’ Night, Storytelling for Mom, and the expected fashion show and designer trunk shows.

The goal of the phone system is to get visitors to start using the hotel phone system again, so the hotel can continue charging fees. This virtual private network is unique in the highly competitive Boston market, which features powerful venue brands like Faneuil Hall, Newbury Street and Copley Place.

As competition for the most affluent consumers heats up, this is the kind of idea management companies will need to better align revenue goals, rents, and retail sales for their tenants, without pricing themselves out of the market.

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