Oakwood implements a mobile-first digital strategy to elevate their customer experience in the highly competitive travel and hospitality industry.
Oakwood is the leading global accommodation solutions provider, catering to businesses as well as individual travelers. With a vast and flexible selection of move-in ready furnished and serviced apartments, Oakwood has helped thousands of companies expand their reach to more customers and markets.
Oakwood’s digital roadmap strategy focuses on harnessing technology for better customer experiences and value in an ever-changing industry. The company sought Photon’s deep expertise in digital technology to execute and implement the strategy.
Oakwood forges a partnership with Photon to deliver a superior customer experience
Oakwood—with the help of Photon’s expertise around digital transformation and mobile-first approach—developed the Oakwood Mobile App. The app streamlines how guests book and manage their travel accommodations through its expanded mobile functionality.
The app enables Oakwood’s customers to manage almost every phase of the reservation and stay process, from beginning to end, directly from their mobile device to improve the guest experience. The overall engagement involved three phases:
Phase 1: Feature-rich mobile app for a seamless CX
Photon and Oakwood worked on setting up the Oakwood Mobile App for iOS and Android using Angular with Ionic. The app replaced a third-party app that created little differentiation or value for Oakwood. Full data encryption was a top priority while building the Oakwood Mobile App, with a data vault keeping all customer data secure and protected.
Photon created the native experience for Guest Services (supporting guest service ticketing), Reservation Management (for past, present, and future reservations), and User Profile Management.
Photon also created the web-responsive experience of bookings and property details inside the app—powered in the backend by Hippo CMS—along with setting up the analytical details in Google. Further, Photon provided users the option to modify and control notifications and native features via an admin portal, which is managed by Oakwood’s internal development team.
Phase 2: Design for Siebel CRM
Photon also worked with Oakwood as a design partner to visualize and create a rich user experience by designing and prototyping a mobile front end for their epic™ accommodations management solution, which is built using Siebel CRM. Photon’s designers worked closely with Oakwood’s development team to create the designs and share working prototypes via Sketch, InVision, and Zeplin for development purposes in a span of a month.
From a database of over 3,000 global providers offering 30,000 housing options, the epic™ platform shows furnished and serviced apartments along with a proprietary Match Score™, helping guests make the best choice for their individual needs. With a side-by-side view of properties, epic™ users can easily compare options based on their criteria—including location, price, amenities, and property features.
“The epic™ platform uses a proprietary algorithm to match traveler requests with housing that best meets their criteria, while simultaneously streamlining booking, more efficiently managing budgets and reducing the pressure on staffing,” explained Shree Khare, Oakwood’s Vice President, Information Technology.
Phase 3: Continuous QA to ensure a best-in-class standard
After the successful launch of Oakwood’s mobile app, Photon has been contributing to the improvement of the app and managing quality assurance (QA testing) across Oakwood’s multiple in-house and external-facing systems. The QA phase with Oakwood started with the test automation of the website Oakwood.com. Photon’s team automated the E2E flow of the application and briefed Oakwood’s existing QA team on how to build and execute the test scripts.
Following the automation of Oakwood.com, Oakwood sought Photon’s help to automate its Siebel CRM-backed epic™ application. Photon is currently engaged with this project, which has three sprint cadences: a Proof-of-Concept for epic™, a POC for Oscar, and automation for the epic™ application.
Photon submitted a proposal, with a tentative team structure, for transitioning QA from Oakwood to Photon. The proposal has been accepted by Oakwood, and Photon will soon completely own QA.
“With consumers interacting with brands twice as much on mobile than anywhere else, it has become crucial for enterprises to drive mobile-first strategies to consistently deliver best-in-class experiences, thereby attracting and retaining today’s digitally savvy customers.”
- Mukund Balasubramanian, CTO, Photon
As the serviced apartment and extended stay industry grows to include leisure and short or long-term travelers, guests have come to expect an experience that bridges the comfort of a home environment with the conveniences of a hotel. With the Oakwood Mobile App, users can benefit from:
- added booking capabilities
- secure payment processing
- on-the-go access to all reservation details, and more
“Oakwood's investment in the guest experience through mobile technology is part of our dedication to providing the best and most innovative technologies to meet the needs of the marketplace and our customers worldwide,” says Shree Khare.