Mobile Technology: The Relentless Pace of Change Continues

By Terence Ronson Managing Director, Pertlink Ltd. | January 15, 2017

There’s only one way to view this – we live in a mobile world. Almost any consumer product or service developed today, is most likely created with a mind-set that one day it will somehow be used in a mobile manner. Consigned to oblivion are the days when we need to return to a desk to do email, go to a fixed line to make a phone call, plug into a network port for internet connectivity, have a hard-wired antenna to watch TV, or wear a wired headset to listen to music.

However, one of the remaining requirements of “being connected” is the need to plug in our devices for charging – but that is slowly eroding. To understand the power of charging, just look around you and see how many people have their mobile devices tethered to some form of mobile power pack - I call this BYOP – Bring Your Own Power. Low-batt as it’s often termed, is a modern-day curse, and as we constantly glance at the screens of our mobile devices, or set alerts, when we observe a reading of <40%, we break into a cold sweat, as we quickly triangulate and find a place of solace to get a power fix.

Joking aside, mobility has an abundance of advantages, many of which we are only now coming to terms with – quite likely because the devices have technically matured, prices have fallen sufficiently, and the applications become useful. In fact, for a while now, the computing power contained inside that smartphone in your pocket or purse, contains way more computational capabilities than the vehicle that took the first Apollo Mission to the Moon.

When we hear the term “there’s an app for that” – there either is, or quite likely there are a group of hooded programmers or system architects huddled together in a basement, garage, dorm or around a kitchen table busy collaborating on how to bring that code to market with the potential of being the next Facebook, Instagram, or Tinder.

The market for mobility is huge. Correction. it’s Ginormous! Let me give you a simple example. The 2016 edition of the World Fact Book (published by The CIA – and yes, there’s an app) shows that for example, Hong Kong, with a population of 7.2m people, has a staggering 16.74m mobile phones in operation. That’s over two mobile phones per man, woman and child. South Korea has a population of 51m and 59m mobile users, while the USA has a 324m population and a measly 382m mobile users. Those three countries total half a billion mobile phones in use.

The last 35+ years has seen the single greatest explosion in the use of any tech known to mankind, the mobile phone. And the one single event that led to this, happened on June 29th 1997 when Apple changed the world forever, as the Tech God known as Steve Jobs proudly launched the iPhone. Shortly after that date, there was probably no single place on Planet Earth (and maybe even parts of the Solar system) that had not heard of the iPhone. So significant was this moment that it once and for all made mobiles useful, and like the Calculator, Mouse and Windows that preceded it, the Mobile Generation was born. Now well over half the population has been ushered into the Mobile era.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.