Guest Mobility as a Key to Hotel Success

By Adam Gillespie Founder, BroadView IP | January 10, 2016

Hotel properties have suffered from a dramatic loss in guest service revenues starting with the in-room telephone, high costs for low rates of bandwidth to dwindling pay-tv take rates. Device mobility has allowed for guests to continue to circumnavigate the ways hotels can charge for sponsored technology services using everyday applications such as Skype, personal Wi-Fi hotspots and entertainment services such as Netflix and Hulu. This is leaving hotels scrambling to find superior ways to introduce new applications that can capture the guests’ attention and accelerate immediate purchase decisions.

This wide range of device and application adoption means that hotels need to compete for their guests’ attention like no other in order to make up for lost revenue with immediate purchase options and to also consider subscription-based applications and points of sale which can lead to residual-based revenues beyond the guest’s hotel stay.

Very few technologies have changed the fabric of American life as much as the mobile phone. Twenty years ago only a handful of business types carried mobile phones, now nearly all of us have one in our pocket. But what’s even more important is that the cell-phone has evolved into a small computer and integrated communication center that we carry around with us. Mobile technology has become an ever present force in our lives and has rapidly changed the way we interact with each other and the world, and how hotels can interact with and drive new revenue channels from their guests using mobile devices.

Nearly every consumer business in the world is being affected by the rapid proliferation and development of mobile technology. The hotel business is no different. Potential guests are increasingly using mobile technology to find hotels, check on the availability of rooms and to read reviews. Once they check in, guests expect to be able to continue using their mobile devices, tablets, and lap-top computers to do business, keep in contact with loved ones, and to be entertained. What was once considered an amenity offered primarily for business travelers is now an absolute must.

Mobile technology, in particular, lends itself to in-location marketing tactics such as geo-targeting, geo-fencing and beacon technology. The advantage to these technologies is that they allow the marketer to reach guests directly on their mobile devices with customer service-focused messages and alerts while inside or near a hotel.

Studies from Hotel Internet Services show that when asked what devices guests normally carried with them on their travels, close to 76% carried smartphones, 68% laptops and close to 62% tablets. Hotel guests are connecting multiple electronic devices to the hotel internet network and these devices can be tapped and targeted for new ways of improving guest revenues.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.