How To Really Impress Your Guests and Increase Repeat Bookings

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In this podcast, Liam discusses the exciting developments in hospitality technology and the importance of promoting direct bookings. 

Francois Gouelo, CEO of Enso Connect, shares how his platform streamlines the guest experience. Francois describes Enso Connect's evolution from messaging automation to its current core feature, the “boarding pass” web app, which simplifies check-ins. 

Hosts can customize the guest journey using a user-friendly editor. The platform aims to eliminate common guest questions and enhance guest satisfaction.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: So one thing which I love at the moment is the amount of tech and the new and exciting things which are happening in hospitality. And Boostly, what we want to do is promote more direct bookings and ways that you as a host can stand out and make sure guests always remember their experience when they come and stay with you.

[00:00:18] And our guest today helps with exactly that. They help both with the experience, but also so you can impress them and get more bookings for the future. So This is the Boostly podcast. If this is your first time here, the Boostly podcast helps hosts with the tools, tactics, training, and most importantly, the confidence to go out there and get more direct bookings.

[00:00:39] Today, we're joined by a very special guest. We've got the CEO and founder of Enso Connect, uh, is Francois, uh, I'm going to be terrible at pronouncing this, Francois Gouelo. Is that right? You got it. It's fine. Superb. Okay. So, uh, he's here to tell us all about the latest things happening with Enso Connect. And if you haven't heard of this before, do stick around.

[00:01:03] You're going to have a great time finding out about this product and how you can get involved and put this into your hospitality business. So welcome along Francois. Thank you for joining us today.

[00:01:13] Francois: Thank you so much for having me. And I love talking about everything book directly and so on. So I know you guys are the, uh, the OGs in this space.

[00:01:20] So I appreciate you having the, uh, on the podcast today.

[00:01:23] Liam: Thank you. Thank you very much. So before we dive into the product, which I know everyone's going to be excited to find out about. Give me a little bit about your history, first of all, where you are in the world, your history, and how EnsoConnect came to be.

A bit about Francois and Enso Connect

[00:01:37] Francois: 100%. Um, so I'm currently based in Toronto, Canada. Uh, originally from France, but raised in England and the U.S. a bit. Uh, so traveled a fair bit with family, which is always an amazing thing. And, um, I, I did my studies, you know, some people might see me on this and might be like, how old is this kid? Uh, so I'm about 26 years old and I started EnsoConnect right out of university.

[00:02:01] Um, I studied computer science, cognitive science, focused in computational linguistics, literally working on models like chat GPT, um, transformer, as we used to call them before open AI kind of. Brought their version of it. Um, and then did a master's of entrepreneurship at Cambridge in the UK. Um, Enzo connects was, I was never meant to start a company.

[00:02:23] It was a pure accident. I was supposed to go again and job, like, you know, uh, any normal person after university and figure out what I was going to do. Uh, but instead I started this company out of pure accident because I was in a course, um, and we had to come up with a solution to an entrepreneurial problem.

[00:02:41] Now I had to be robotics focused, and I absolutely hate robotics, so I went up to my prof and I said, can I do smart home devices instead, and he reluctantly said yes, but he said you're probably not going to win the 10, 000 cash prize at the end of the course. And I was like, wait a minute. There's a 10, 000 cash prize at the end of this course challenge, except in Mario, I'm going to do everything to win this.

[00:03:02] So I don't think I attended any of my other courses. I just focused on that one. The first weekend, my best friend called me up and he told me, Francois, you're trying to become Canadian. You're French and you don't know how to ski. So we're going to go to Montemblas it's a Friday morning, early afternoon, and we drive towards Montauban Blanc from Toronto, which is about a four or five-hour drive.

[00:03:23] We book a vacation rental, um, on Airbnb. Um, maybe the first mistake, I don't know. Um, and we get an automated message that says, Keys under the doormat, here are your check-in instructions, have a nice stay, and We get to the unit, keys frozen under the doormat. We finally pried ourselves into the unit and we noticed the heating system was per room.

[00:03:47] We didn't figure that out until the checkout so we just. I ended up staying in the living room, uh, where it was warm and we could make fire. Um, and then throughout the state, we're asking basic questions. How do I get pizza delivered in the middle of nowhere? The millennial that I am? Um, how do I do this?

[00:04:02] How do I do that? And no answers whatsoever. Five days after checkout, we got a text message from the host saying we left one of the windows open in the kitchen, kitchen pipes froze, we own 5, 000 and he's sending us to small claims court. So that's kind of the birth story of Enzo Connect. Um, we did close those windows Messages coming in five days after checkout could have been a different guest.

[00:04:21] I mean, it was a whole ordeal and we decided to solve the check-in problem. So we started with a very, very basic proof of concept. And the idea was everyone has. Data about them. We know basic information now as much as an OTA might restrict emails and phone numbers and such we know certain key information that should allow you to make the check and process seamless.

[00:04:45] So we built a very small proof of concept. We brought in a door, which I still have right here on my near, my desk. And we call our shareholders now to sign it. Um, and we built a proof of concept. We ended up winning the 10 grand. And then I started a Masters of Entrepreneurship. And I was like, part of my French, but fuck it.

[00:05:06] I'm going to try and do this on the side and see what happens.

What is the guest experience?

[00:05:09] Liam: What would you say is the experience of a guest? So if you had Enso Connect when you were checking into that, uh, Airbnb, what would your experience have been like?

[00:05:19] Francois: Well, you know what? I'll tell you what my experience was a week ago. Um, I went to Montreal for a festival.

[00:05:23] Um, not very professional of me. I wish I could tell you it was a work trip, but no. I went out and partied at Oshiega. Um, and I decided to book one of our client's properties, uh, called Simplicimo out of Montreal. So same destination, different client. Um, and I got to check in using our platform. And what was cool about this is we drove from 6 p.

[00:05:44] m. and arrived at 1 a.m. And the check-in was smooth. So I got the information at the right time. I got what we call a boarding pass, which is kind of a web app that encompasses all the different links that you would usually send to guests. So things like guidebooks, upsells, verification, check-in information, and smart locks, are all in one branded and designed in your way.

[00:06:05] Uh, kind of web app, no downloads required or anything like that. And I got to check in and the process was smooth. It was step by step-by-step picture-by-picture check-in instructions with the last, uh, element being an unlock door button, unlocking the door, taking a shower, and going to bed. And then went and partied for the weekend.

[00:06:23] Um, so it was a great, great experience. Also, a great way for me to see certain items of the check-in experience that were not the way I wanted them to be. So noticing that, you know, an integration with a particular SmartWalk generates six-digit codes instead of four-digit codes. So just being able to understand how clients use our platform, what are some limitations, and what we could improve.

[00:06:43] Uh, but I think it would have made the check-in experience and the upsell part way more, uh, convenient.

How much effort does it take to set up?

[00:06:49] Liam: How much effort does it take to set up something like Enso Connect? What is the, what's the, um, the time involved, I

[00:06:56] Francois: guess what? So I'll take a step back and I'll give you a bit of the story behind the boarding pass and, and how we got to that point.

[00:07:02] Because this was developed a year ago and it's evolved so much from all the client feedback that we've gotten. When, when we first started, it was just collecting data and a guidebook and not a great guidebook at that, to be quite honest. So we've developed it since to, to, to account for more.

[00:07:17] Um, When we first started Enzo Connect, we started as a unified messaging platform with different AI capabilities, not chat GPT at the time. Now we've finally launched Enzo AI, which is chat GPT in your inbox. And it was a basic inbox with text, email, WhatsApp, and Airbnb messages.

[00:07:33] Something which at the time was lacking for many property management systems. We would centralize the information, create different automation, and we would focus a lot on the concept of if this, then that, so if the guest sends these kinds of messages, or if this happens, or if that happens, then send a message.

[00:07:51] And what we realized, uh, this was about a year, year and a half ago is people were setting up a ridiculous amount of workflows of these conditions and, and, and logic for their guest experience. And effectively it wasn't reducing the amount of questions guests had. It was just automating their tasks of sending out messages, but not necessarily responding to the overwhelming number of guests' questions.

[00:08:14] And so the idea shifted from, well, let's not think about automating. guest messages, let's think about removing them completely. Why is it that when I book a hotel, I don't interact with anyone until I show up at the property? If they're not self-check-in, then I have a front desk to get my ID and, you know, get the key and so on, but I don't have any questions.

[00:08:33] And that comes to two things, trust and the way operators communicate with guests. And so the idea was with this web app, our goal is to remove all of those questions so that it's all answered already. And it's kind of a self-serve model. So the boarding pass is a web app. Super configurable using the same if this than that, that can dynamically change based on conditions.

[00:08:54] So if it's an Airbnb reservation, I don't need to do ID verification. But if it's a direct booking, I need a safety deposit and ID verification, things that Airbnb offers as an OTA that I can offer as a direct booking channel. So being able to tailor the experience according to different conditions, and then running the guest through that guest journey.

[00:09:13] So It's, it's through what we call our guest journey editor. You just go through every stage of the guest journey and you set these things up. So booking confirmation, what do you want to do? Uh, pre-checking, what do you want to do? What do you want to say? What kind of upsells do you want to have?

[00:09:26] Check in. And we just run through the whole experience. Hit a button that says Go live and that's it, and you're done. And then you just, obviously have to manage the, um, guests and the rest, you know, through our inbox, your PM mSs, or any other tools that you might be using. Uh, so that's kind of the setup if you will,

[00:09:43] Liam: having a blast.

[00:09:44] Gonna get it on the Boostly

[00:09:45] podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on them, loosely making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.