Wingate Inns, a tech-friendly hotel start-up, got its start by catering to female business travelers. In rapid-growth mode, they needed a guest experience design that differentiated their brand and facilitated faster franchisee adoption at the same time. Wingate Inns turned to IBM to help fulfill its promise to make their road-warrior travelers/guests as productive away from the office as they were in it.
To introduce the then market-leading ideas of high-speed internet access, a full business center, two-line phones in each guest room, and internet on TV, Mike (in the role of eVisionary at IBM Global Services’ at the time) introduced new ways of modeling the experience using design thinking. Each contributor, each from a different department, could see how the proposed changes affected each of them.
What started as a live-action re-enactment of the current and proposed guest experiences became a Hotel of the Future video that let each group at Wingate (corporate, franchisees, housekeeping, tech, guest relations, security,and so on) understand how the proposed experience would affect them. By understanding how changes to the experience might affect each of the other departments, decisions started to be made based on what was best for the guest, rather than on personal or departmental preferences.
Wingate used the video to win attention from the industry press. Franchisees became so excited about their new hotel concept that they elected to voluntarily raise their initial financial contributions to make the vision real six months sooner than originally scheduled. Wingate saved $1 million dollars in capital expenditures before opening their first location.