Manifest Luxury: How Book4Time Rejuvenated the Guest Experience at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Lake Louise is an iconic, picturesque hamlet within Banff National Park, which is part of the Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site. Picture placid, emerald-green water, and snow-capped peaks and glaciers where visitors can enjoy the outdoors, no matter the season. This dramatic beauty is one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations, but there’s more to the area than the great outdoors.
Right on the shores of the lake is the , and I'm the Director of the Fairmont Chateau Spa. The Fairmont hotel chain is world-renowned for its elegance, ambiance, and luxurious experiences. More than a chain of beautiful hotels, Fairmont is all about creating beautiful moments and memories you’ll cherish forever.
Adapting to a New In-Spa Reality
As you might expect, things have been very different at the spa during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the province of Alberta began to reopen, we had to adapt our processes to adhere to strict public health guidelines while still maintaining the luxurious experience that our guests expect.
I try to take a collaborative approach to safety with my team. First and foremost, I want to assure our therapists we are prioritizing their health and safety.
But this approach also extends to our spa guests. We have emphasized spa cleanliness social distancing, and changed daily operations to ensure everyone is safe and comfortable. We are not able to offer the typical amenities such as slippers and a robe, so we look for new ways to add an extra touch of luxury to our guests’ visits.
While this new reality has changed some elements of my role and responsibilities, one thing that hasn’t changed is wanting to provide our guests with the best experience possible.
Simplifying Our Systems
Throughout this period of change, one thing that always made the experience as smooth as possible was . We switched over to Book4Time’s cloud-based software in December of 2018 as part of a corporate initiative. At that point, a majority of Fairmont properties with spas had either already switched to Book4Time or were in the process of doing so.
Before moving to Book4Time, we were using two systems that kept our POS and our inventory management separate from our online booking system, which was managed by a third party. Due to the nature of the integration, troubleshooting any issues required involvement from our IT team, plus the support teams of the other two systems.
These programs were well established when I had entered into the industry in 2011 and so it was the only thing I had used, making it challenging to know what to compare it to. When Book4Time started rolling out, the learning curve was not that steep because the general workflows were similar. The results, however, were much different.
Refreshed Booking System, Rejuvenated Spa Administration
Since some Fairmont locations already had Book4Time in place before the corporate initiative began, there was a strong relationship between our corporate team and Book4Time. This helped facilitate a smooth transition and make the process a great learning experience for me and my team.
We started the implementation processes in September, and by December, we were ready to launch. Our success is due in large part to a Book4Time technician who came onsite for a few days when we went live. The first day and a half of official operation he made sure that all billing and charges made it through properly. After we went live, he provided additional support before transitioning us to the Book4Time support team.
There have been so many benefits to upgrading to Book4Time. Our previous processes included two different programs, so we used to have a separate IT team as well as two support teams, one for each system. Now, we can reach out to the Book4Time support team if we have any issues, and relieve the burden on IT staff.
The biggest perk is having so many features integrated within the system. We use Book4Time for all our day-to-day administration, such as booking services, checking guests in and out, all of our billing for the treatments, and product sales. All our inventory is listed in Book4Time as well, so when checking inventory at the end of the month, we can make sure that we have enough stock.
Book4Time also integrates with Fairmont’s property management system. It uses the Book4Time interface to make the guest experience seamless, especially for those who want to bill services or treatments to their hotel room. And because the hotel software and the spa software are compatible, we can now accept Fairmont gift cards through Book4Time. That's been especially helpful during the pandemic, as people want to purchase gift cards for loved ones they can’t visit.
Environmentally Conscious and Improved Staff Wellbeing
We also use Book4Time for our online bookings and our guest intake forms. In October 2019, we launched the paperless online guest intake forms. That's been a huge “to do” that I had wanted to cross off my list for a long time.
The old paper option required guests to fill out paperwork in person once they arrived for their treatment. When taking care of multiple guests at once, our reception area would quickly become quite crowded, which led to increased wait times if guests didn’t arrive early enough to fill out their forms. It wasn’t exactly a relaxing experience. For our repeat guests who would return for treatments within a relatively short time frame, the process became repetitive and tedious.
We are also required to keep those forms for up to seven years. So it was a lot of storage and a ton of paper. Launching the online guest intake form meant those forms would be valid for a year, as long as the guest did not have any changes to their health or medical conditions. Guests can also fill out the forms at their leisure, before arriving at the spa. It was a much better experience for everyone.
Going paperless was a big achievement. Any opportunity that we have for more of a sustainable option, especially with us being within a national park, we take it. Now, we are not only more environmentally friendly, the online guest intake form reduced our file storage needs, and it has streamlined and holistically improved the guest booking experience.
Book4Time has also had a big impact on our therapists. Since Book4Time is cloud-based, therapists can now see their schedules and client lists remotely. It gives them more control and ease-of-access, so they can manage their time better. They’re more relaxed when they arrive for work, and more present during the treatment. This results in a more personal touch for our guests.
Improving Personalization to Create a Bespoke Online Experience
In addition to our internal changes, Book4Time gives us the freedom to customize how we interact with the public. We can change both our intake forms as safety protocols change, and we can also change the look of our spa’s online presence. That level of customization allows us to keep the messaging for Lake Louise Spa unique while still maintaining a visual connection to our sister sites at the Fairmont hotels in Banff and Jasper.
With Book4Time, our capacity for online booking and the ability to do more promotion through the online booking field will continue to grow for us. Keeping that level of personalization while increasing our ability to offer more to our guests is something we are really excited about.
More Guest Engagement and Luxurious Experiences
People have become more comfortable, confident, and capable of booking online throughout the pandemic, and the spa has seen our bookings increase because of it.
About 20% of our appointments are being booked online, which is up 12% from 2019. As more clients book online rather than emailing or calling us for appointments, it frees time for our receptionists, who can focus on in-person aspects of the spa experience.
In general, all of our staff have more capacity to engage with our guests and create a connection that Fairmont is known for. We do not have to worry about bookings or paperwork, and we can spend more time making our guests our main priority.
No matter how many people fill our lobby, it is important that they all get the luxurious experience and engagement that we have all missed so much. This is going to be increasingly important for us as more people feel comfortable returning to the spa for treatments—and we cannot wait to greet them.