A ResortSuite Case Study

Watergate Bay Does Digital Right
with Help from ResortSuite

Watergate Bay: “All About Striking the Right Balance”

Watergate Bay is a destination hotel located on a 2 mile sandy beach in north Cornwall. The hotel says that “it is so close to the sea you can see the surfers from the pool.” Besides the 80 bedrooms, Watergate has three restaurants, a bar, a pool and spa, a surf school, and a Kids’ Zone.

“We’re all about the good things in life. Getting out in the elements, eating and drinking well, letting go, and having a good time,” says Judi Blakeburn, Brand Director at Watergate Bay. “We’re a really relaxed experience. We have a very loyal following, and returning guests tend to go with the flow and make plans as the mood takes them.”

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Using the March 2020 COVID lockdown to their advantage, the hotel leadership took the opportunity to close a gap they had found in an audit of their technology, the lack of a Watergate Bay app. The hotel had envisioned the app as a way to support the spontaneous nature of their guests. Now, it would be essential in providing those guests with a touchless experience when the hotel reopened and helping the hotel fulfill its long-term business goals.

The hotel’s search for a partner to help them create their app was a short one. Although many developers offer app creation services, Watergate Bay decided to take advantage of the strong working relationship they had already established with ResortSuite. In 2018 Watergate initially worked with ResortSuite to replace the multiple systems they used on the property into one fully integrated solution.

The hotel reached out again in 2019 to work with ResortSuite on a bespoke online booking solution that allowed guests to book every facet of their stay. When it came time to build an app, ResortSuite’s MOBILE solution was the only real choice.

The Vision

Watergate Bay envisioned the new app as a ‘Pocket Concierge’, a tool that would help enhance the experience of guests who had booked a stay. The hotel wanted the app to give guests the ability to book services and provide value-added features specific to the property.

Initial features built for the app included:

  • Detailed itineraries
  • Menus
  • Paperless forms
  • Booking capabilities for: Restaurants, sports, treatments, Kids’ Zone, swimming pool
  • Weather, tide & surf reports
  • Additional info (where to visit/what to do)

The Plan

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
– Abraham Lincoln

Watergate knew that guests would embrace the app the same way they embraced the online booking platform (since implementing the online booking platform in 2019, direct online bookings have increased to 50% of the hotel’s reservations). The hotel created a plan that would make guest adoption of the app as smooth as possible. The key to this plan was the creation of a guest services team.  The purpose of the team was to:

  • Ensure guests knew what to expect upon reopening
  • Help guests plan and book ahead so they have a seamless holiday experience
  • Facilitate a touchless check-in
  • Introduce guests to the mobile app

Guests also received a detailed step-by-step plan of what to do/expect from 14 days before their stay until they were 10 minutes away from the hotel.  Employees at the hotel trained on their app to ensure they could answer any questions that might arise.

The Result

“(ResortSuite MOBILE) really has been the technology success of the last year.”
– Judi Blakeburn, Watergate Bay

The app launched in October 2020 (iOS and Android) in a brief reopening window during the pandemic. Despite the restrictions and fears around COVID, October was a success for both Watergate Bay and its new app. The hotel was at 97% capacity for the month, with 960 arrivals, and 2,400 individual guests. The work done creating a useful app, along with the work of the guest services team, resulted in a month that saw:

One Month Results
October 2020
(Numbers rounded for clarity)

2,400 individual guests
800 active app users
16,000 app sessions
2,800 pool, cardio, and Kids’ Club sessions booked through the app
200 spa treatments and surf lessons
800 table bookings

The Future

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
– Will Rogers

Not being content to sit back and admire past successes, Watergate Bay is looking to build off their app’s initial success. Based on the app’s adoption, the hotel has made plans to reduce the number of staff on the front desk when it reopens and relocate them to areas that provide more value to their guests.  “Progressively touchless technology is removing day-to-day admin tasks from our guest-facing teams, enabling them to become great hosts who have the time to enhance a guest’s stay through insight and service,” according to Judi.  The hotel has also reached out to ResortSuite to work on enhancements for the next version of the app that will include:

  • Guest messaging
  • Mobile key capabilities
  • Remote check-in capabilities
  • A housekeeping and internal communication platform
  • Further touchless payment solutions
  • Enhanced guest metrics

Watergate Bay plans on using app metrics, feedback from guests, and ResortSuite’s experience to ensure their app continues to evolve in a way that enhances the guest experience they offer property-wide.

Contact ResortSuite for a live demo and learn how we can help you enhance the experiences of your guests.

Watch Judi Discuss Watergate’s Adoption of a Property-branded App