March 16, 2022
Finding at an early age that he’s a traveler at heart, Aaron Bayford has spent nearly 20 years in the hospitality business—and utilized Kipsu as a messaging solution at three of the five hotels he’s worked at.
Bayford started his hospitality career by accident. After backpacking in Europe in college and “getting the travel itch,” he initially planned to work in travel via the airline business. But he graduated right after the September 11, 2001 tragedy, and it was a difficult time—so he ended up working at the front desk at a DoubleTree in Colorado Springs.
“I accidentally got into the hotel industry and fell in love with it,” he said. “I love experiencing new cultures, I knew I wanted to be in the travel world.”
After Colorado, he did a stint in Maui, Hawaii at the Waldorf Astoria for a few years before moving to Phoenix to explore the Southwest. “Being able to go to different regions in the country, just experiencing everything in different places,” is Bayford’s favorite part about the hospitality industry.
Now, he’s back in Colorado at The Curtis Denver—an eclectic, soft-branded DoubleTree by Hilton. “I want this to be my final stop, but I’ve said that before,” he joked.
Bayford got to The Curtis around six months ago, and said it has a “culture unlike any that he’s experienced.”
The property has 336 rooms and 13 guest room floors, each of which are uniquely themed: from horror to TV mania, a music floor to a sports floor. The vinyl that plays on each floor is even set to fit the mood of each. “It’s really eclectic, the motto is just [to] have fun,” he said.
The team is focused on driving that unique experience for their guests, who tend to lean younger in demographics. “I love working with them, the management team and employees are very engaged,” Bayford said. “That can be difficult in the times that we’re in, [but] this hotel has done an incredible job.”
While the winter is a busy time for travelers coming to ski the Rockies in Colorado, he said that summer is their peak season. The same mountain towns that are home to ski resorts also have festivals all summer long to keep the tourists flowing—not to mention all the hiking and other outdoor activities in the area.
The Curtis Denver used Kipsu to communicate with guests before Bayford came on as Director of First Impressions (Director of Operations), but wasn’t utilizing it to its full potential. Having driven the program at a previous property and rolled it out at a DoubleTree in Paradise Valley, he was no stranger to getting it to be a central part of hotel operations.
“You just have to have a champion at each property, someone has to take hold of the program itself,” Bayford said. This was his previous role at the Hilton Phoenix Tapatio Cliffs Resort and in the time he was there, it turned into the main form of guest communication for all aspects of the property—from reservations for the pool cabana, to ordering food and beverages, to running the golf course.
“I was able to drive that program, get a better understanding of the platform itself and how it helps efficiency within the operation itself,” he said.
The team was able to use Kipsu to mitigate concerns such as guests complaining about not having daily housekeeping—not only could they inform the guest of pandemic era policy changes to the industry, but they could also reach out to guests who might want daily housekeeping or certain items.
“Post pandemic, there’s been a lot of change in operating hours, cleaning services… it’s no longer consistent,” Bayford said. “Every hotel is operating a bit differently.” With welcome messages from Kipsu, his team was able to communicate some property-specific policies to guests that they might have not already been aware of.
“It’s the best way to communicate,” Bayford said of Kipsu’s hotel texting platform. “It’s a vital piece of communication, and it’s instant, you don't’ have to wait for someone to get a voicemail.” Plus, he estimated that nine times out of ten, guests answer.
“Over the years, I’ve found that it’s not only the most useful way to communicate with guests, but also engages the team as well,” he said. “You can have a lot of fun with it.”
While some players at the various teams he’s worked at have resisted it, he thinks that Kipsu has made his job easier.
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