HOTEL BUSINESS REVIEW

January FOCUS: Mobile Technology

 
January, 2020

Mobile Technology: Meeting Tech Expectations

What once seemed futuristic is now the norm, owing to the escalating developments in mobile technology, and hotels must continue to innovate in order to meet guest expectations. In a recent study from Mower, 65 percent of guests said they would gladly pay more for a hotel that provides the mobile technology they deem essential. The same study shows that 44 percent of travelers are more likely to book a smart hotel, and nearly 7 in 10 want to use smart devices provided by the hotel. And how do guests wish to use all this technology? A majority expressed a desire for mobile check-in and check-out, and mobile payment options. They also want to be able to stream content from their phone to the TV; to make service requests of the hotel staff; to control in-room lighting, temperature and sound; to order food and beverages; and to request a wake-up call - all from their mobile device. Guests also expressed preferences for robust wi-fi and convenient device charging ports throughout the hotel. They also appreciate the use of hotel branded apps which allow a guest to book a room, access loyalty programs, receive discounts and rewards, and even use the app to choose the room, floor and view they prefer. Some hotel apps also allow a customer to track their charges throughout their stay, rather than waiting to receive a bill at the end. Finally, mobile tech lounges are popping up more frequently in some hotels. These lounges offer guests the opportunity to perform tasks like airline check-ins or access to local info guides, but they also provide a place where guests can comfortably get some work done outside their room. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to meet their customers' expectations in the mobile technology space.


This month's feature articles...

Alexander Shashou

If you polled 100 different people asking for their definition of hospitality, chances are that you would get 100 different answers. However, many of them would directly or indirectly mention safety, comfort and feeling well cared for. Hotels can spend time focusing on impressing their guests with exciting offerings from guest-facing mobile technology to new and exciting experiences, but the basic hospitality needs of hotel guests still need to be met. Providing hotel staff with mobile technology, especially housekeeping software, is one way for hotels to efficiently and seamlessly provide exceptional hospitality. READ MORE

Megan Pope

The modern traveler is accustomed to streamlined self-service throughout most steps of their journey. The breakdown happens when they arrive at their hotel and have to wait in line to check-in and get their room key. Fortunately, technology has made it possible for hoteliers to streamline and expedite guest check-in by automating the process with mobile technology. As mobile technology continues to gain traction, guests are increasingly demanding access to the self-service experience they're accustomed to in the airline and ride share sectors of the travel industry. For these reasons and many more, mobile check-in is set to be hospitality's biggest trend in 2020. READ MORE

Katerina Berezina

Some customers are digital natives, inclined to do everything on their phones, including their interactions with hotels, e.g., selecting a hotel, booking a room, setting up their customer account, texting the hotel before arrival, and using their smartphone as a key. However, there is also a group of consumers who would choose a hotel based on a billboard advertising or a printed catalog, who would call the hotel to make a reservation, and would ask to cut a key for them upon arrival. Therefore, hotels need to manage their efforts of technology adoption in such a way to serve the whole spectrum of customer groups. READ MORE

Ajay Aluri

Mobile technology has existed since the 80s, but it was not until late 2000s that it reached the mainstream consumer. Since then, mobile technology has become much smarter, drastically changing the way consumers use it on a daily-basis and reshaping the way they search and make purchase decisions. From eCommerce to the sharing economy, from Facebook to TikTok, and from texting to virtual assistance, mobile technology has reframed the world consumers inhabit. The next evolution of mobile technology is capable of changing our immediate surroundings with applications that offer interactive and immersive experiences that merge real-life and virtual worlds. It is time that the hotel industry start exploring these applications, that is, Augmented Reality (AR) technology. READ MORE

Adam Gillespie

It is no exaggeration to say that technology is advancing so rapidly that it is often difficult to keep up with the changes. Year after year, one area in which this is apparent is within the hospitality industry, as more hotel brands respond to the needs and requirements of discerning customers who expect an experience that fits their modern lifestyles and expectations. Many market leaders have responded well, with new and exciting innovations, while others lag behind. As we approach the start of a new decade, take a brief insight into where hotel technology stands at the moment, along with some suggestions as to what we might expect to see in our hotel rooms for 2020 and beyond. READ MORE

Andrada Paraschiv

With a long tradition in service excellence, razor-thin, cyclical margins, and a complex ownership/management structure, hospitality has been slow at adopting technology. Today, hospitality companies must embrace new advancements in technology, if they want to remain competitive. Guests and employees expect the same level of digitalization in a property, which they've become accustomed to in their private lives. To adopt technology that sticks and adds value to the organization, there are a few things hoteliers need to consider: return on investment, making sure the technology stack combines into a cohesive ecosystem, have a strong employee adoption strategy and finally have the ability to measure success. READ MORE

Ted  Horner

Consumers have embraced voice technology with a high adoption rate in homes in the USA. The end result is that hotels moving forward are seriously looking at this technology. In a recent study of technology investments in 2019 30% of hotels stated they were going to invest in voice technology in 2020. With more than 100 Hotels having made the investment to date the feedback is that the technology is driving new revenues by making guests aware of, and removing the friction to engage with, high margin amenities and services. READ MORE

Robert Rauch

Hoteliers can leave no stone unturned in this extremely competitive business environment, and a key weapon in our arsenal is technology. Mobile technology, in particular, is in a constant state of flux and continuously unlocking new opportunities to boost marketing efforts and improve the guest's experience. There are a few exciting advances in mobile tech that hoteliers can look forward to employing as mobile and 5G come together. Though as these innovations develop, it's important to take a step back and recognize how users from different generations will perceive and interact with these new marketing tools. READ MORE

Richard Walsh

How are hotels responding to the daily challenges of the escalating evolution of tech services for their properties and more specific for in-room convenience that is becoming an expectation by their guests? In-Room Technology has become a critical issue for all hotels and there is no one answer for all hotels. The evolving changes in guest expectations and tech service selections confronting hoteliers today will continue to escalate and to continue the hotels will have to implement in-room technology services same as they did in the past with air conditioning, television, phones, digital keys and more. READ MORE

Joe Schwinger

For hoteliers, meeting planners are a crucial audience. Planners have the power to direct hundreds of guests to a hotel, often for several events a year. To attract planners (and their business), it's important that hoteliers understand their needs and expectations - especially when it comes to technology. Here, MeetingPlay CEO Joe Schwinger shares some insight into event technology trends in 2020 so you can better prepare your hotel for meeting planners' evolving expectations. READ MORE

Frank  Vertolli

An evolving array of tools and services led by smartphones is fueling the modern travel experience. From pre-trip dreaming and planning, booking and the travel experience, to the post-trip journey home and sharing, mobile technology plays a pivotal role in modern tourism. Start to finish, all of these touch points represent opportunities where travel suppliers and service providers can build brand awareness, enhance engagement, and add value for users. By leveraging evolving mobile technologies, the travel and tourism industry can continue to place the focus on creating an enhanced guest experience, prioritizing specific needs and desires to ensure the traveler's experience exceeds their expectations. READ MORE

Tracy Ford

Robust indoor wireless networks are enabling building owners and managers to employ technology and applications that allow their staff and systems to be more efficient. These applications include automated systems that monitor and control various environments within the building, including security systems, housekeeping and maintenance functions. Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum has recently made available by the Federal Communications Commission in a novel shared approach that could prove advantageous for hotels. CBRS spectrum can facilitate private back-of-house communications for staff using private LTE spectrum that has all the advantages of cellular with the ease of deployment that Wi-Fi offers. READ MORE

Tim Peter

Is your hotel mobile-ready? Mobile-first? Mobile-native? Well, brace yourself, more changes are coming. Just when you thought that you were getting the hang of using mobile to drive interest and action among guests, your customers have started using mobile in wholly new ways. And these behavioral changes represent "the new, new thing" for mobile marketing and distribution. What is the change? An increasing use of voice among guests when they search and interact with information in mobile situations. Voice already plays a key role in travel sales and marketing. Here's how to make sure voice plays that role for you. READ MORE

Gustaaf Schrils

Chatbots and voice assistants. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. And, Natural Language Processing? What possibly could these have to do with serving guests in a hotel? It's the ultimate Sci-Fi question: can humans and machines not only coexist but blend into a single entity. It's time we take our humanity and cobble on some AI and ML, mix it with a dash of NLP and top it off with some Deep Learning and punch out a robust, not robot, service initiative to enhance guest satisfaction and the bottom line. READ MORE

Court Williams

With mobile technology gaining ground almost daily, the hotel industry is under pressure to keep up with guests' expectations. Recent research shows 65 percent of guests would pay more for hotels that offer the mobile technology they consider essential. Fulfilling these wishes requires hotel companies and chains to make significant investments in hardware, software, staff recruitment, and training. Hotel management also faces the challenge of ensuring that their back-end systems and procedures are capable of meeting the risks and vulnerabilities that accompany the shift to mobile technology. Biometric authentication offers the opportunity for hotels to address these risks using the latest in technological advancements. READ MORE

Priyanko Guchait, PhD

Error recovery performance is defined as the extent to which employees believe they are capable and willing to handle, manage, and resolve mistakes or failures effectively after they have occurred. Investigating how employees manage errors is critical since effective recovery performance can have influence on important outcomes including customer satisfaction, attitudes of employees and coworkers, and effectiveness of teams, departments, and the overall firm. An instrument is provided to measure error recovery performance of employees. Finally, suggestions are provided to managers to improve the recovery capabilities of hospitality employees. READ MORE

John Mavros

Currently, thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Many other states are projected to follow suit. Under federal law, however, marijuana remains illegal as a Schedule I drug pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act. The ever-changing landscape on legalized marijuana makes it difficult for hotel employers to comply with both state and federal law and caused many to question whether their policies and practices should be revised. This article discusses the potential pros and cons of including marijuana in a zero tolerance alcohol and drug policy. READ MORE

Felicia Hyde

From travelers to renters, modern consumers are in search of accommodation that provides the convenience, connection and customization of a "live-work-play" environment. Research shows that this lifestyle and desire for an all-inclusive experience is longer a trend but an expectation. While shaking up many industries, this concept is already transforming multifamily communities nationwide and developers are responding with designs infused with mixed-use design strategies, elements and spaces. The result: innovative and flexible designs that not only attract and boost consumers' experience but deliver optimal return on investment for multifamily owners and hoteliers alike. READ MORE

Lindsay  Ayers

Last year alone, many well-known hospitality companies across the country paid multi-millions as a result of wrongful termination claims filed against them. Why is this? How can hotels and restaurants in the hospitality field ensure they are following recent and ever-changing laws and educating management and subordinate employees on the hotel's policies that comply with these laws? This article shares tips to help guide hotels in taking the proper steps before terminating an employee. READ MORE

Dana Kravetz

Along with real property, equipment, furniture, fixtures and inventory is an oftentimes overlooked asset class: your hotel's intellectual property. No less valuable than these more tangible assets, your IP-brand name, proprietary systems, trade dress and unique designs, to name a few-has untold economic value that serves as a safeguard against infringement, increases the worth of your business, and can be exploited if and when you seek to sell, in whole or in part. But this is only true if your IP portfolio is properly protected by way of trademarks, copyrights and patents, depending, of course, on the particularities and nature of the IP in question. Intrigued? Read on. READ MORE

Lawrence Adams

Millennials, categorized as those people born between 1981 and 1996, have been described as possessing a whole range of shared characteristics and behaviors. In this article we will look at how this generation is impacting the hospitality industry and how hotel design is evolving to attract this rapidly growing traveling customer segment. Hotel companies, developers, owners and operators are developing new brands and reimagining existing brands to cater to this explosive new market. To attract this expanding customer base, new hotels need to address Millennials' preferences for personalization, social media, cultural context, wellness, cutting-edge technology and communal public spaces. READ MORE

Lisa Ross

Video is an effective tool to enhance the power of social media marketing. Effective marketers use video as a tool to make meaningful emotional connections with target audiences and have measurable impacts on business success. Hotel marketers must experiment with video and stay abreast of how the channels connect with current guests and prospective travelers. Whether captured by a traveler or produced by the brand, the best-performing videos reel viewers in with a mix of compelling storytelling, relatable moments and emotional triggers that inspire action, from social sharing to buying. In this article, we lay out six tips hotel marketers should consider when creating video content. READ MORE

Mostafa Sayyadi

This article is set in place to inspire hotel executives to create fundamental changes to meet and exceed the challenges of not only today but also what we see as an onset of new technological advances in the future. Hotel executives are perplexed by the amount, both depth and breadth, of models and applications. A new model that can easily be applied that takes into consideration some of the major tasks that hotel managers must consider is needed. This article is about getting the information needed to be successful in the right hands of these managers worldwide. READ MORE

Katharine Le Quesne

As we look forward to the next decade, I've been picking up the phone (I know, very retro) and meeting face to face (… yes, really) with some of the professionals who, like me, have forged a career against the backdrop of an asset heavy industry dominated by suits and on the back foot when it comes to innovation. This is the beginning of a series of interviews, paraphrasing proper conversations with people I respect. The "plat du jour" this week is role models, mentors and sponsors with an inevitable garnish of technology, product trends and climate change. READ MORE

Mark Heymann

The hospitality industry is grappling with challenges that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone: A labor shortage, demanding customers and profit pressure. At the center of these issues, managers who oversee the complexities of hotel staffing must decide how to schedule employees based on the daily needs of the business and complying with rules and regulations that impact their decisions on a daily basis. For this reason, managers need a support system designed to ensure compliance and full utilization of their labor resource. This byline will examine how technology is the solution for an optimized workforce. READ MORE

Stuart   Butler

There's a dirty secret in our industry that no one is talking about (at least not publicly). There are attribution thieves within our midst, and they're taking too much credit for your bookings. While I don't think that (in most cases) this is a nefarious plot, it is still causing dollars to be invested in the wrong initiatives due to the proliferation of misinformation and the use of flawed attribution models. In this article, we take a look at ways that hotel marketers can fight back by being armed with knowledge, a willingness to break out our critical-thinking hats, and calculators. READ MORE

Rick Garlick

Brand extensions have always been a common part of corporate growth strategies, but have more recently expanded into the hospitality business. From retail and entertainment brands like Restoration Hardware, Taco Bell and Disney, companies from all industries are now looking into brand extensions. This article examines the implications for hospitality brand extensions, provides examples os successful integrations, explains how hotel brands can expand into the retail space, and examines the questions they need to address before doing so. Following these tips will help brands avoid being the next Blockbuster and will ensure longevity in the space. READ MORE

Paul van Meerendonk

Revenue management plays a vital role in the modern hotel technology stack, and demonstrating ROI in a hotel's revenue technology investment goes deeper than year-over-year RevPAR uplift. The additional revenue from the proper implementation of revenue technologies and strategies directly impacts a hotel's bottom line, making it a valuable tool for optimizing the net value of a property. Forecasted earnings and asset sales proceeds are critical factors in applying revenue science to hotel real estate assessment. It's only a matter of time before the majority of the industry catches up to what leading hotel owners and asset managers have already realized: a smart investment into revenue strategy and technology is the key to driving greater property profitability and value. READ MORE

Sean Young

For operators of hotel casinos, the amount of risk exposure can rise faster than a progressive jackpot on a slot machine. Because guests tend to stay on-site at hotel casinos far longer than guests at any other class of hotel, these venues have a radically different risk profile. Add in an events center, a bar or a live entertainment venue, and the risks multiply. This article takes an in-depth look at four risks on which hotel casinos can't gamble and offers practical tips operators can take to limit their hotel casino's exposure to a potentially devastating financial loss. READ MORE

Adria Levtchenko

We are long past the days of one-on-one texting or emails within hospitality organizations; even videoconferencing. Communications have become more complex and more sophisticated. Today's hotel task optimization platforms allow organizations to stay connected in new ways, fully integrated with the onboarding and training process; ongoing operations to include scheduling and keeping track of task fulfillment; and staff evaluation, engagement and recognition. The key in this process is to understand how to customize and implement each function with specific goals and needs in mind. This makes careful comparison of competing technologies an extremely important aspect of staying connected. READ MORE

Karine Gill

Having been a hospitality recruiter for most of my career, I am often asked about the difference between Retained and Contingency executive search. On several occasions, it has come to my attention that the hiring manager at the hotel or at corporate level understands intuitively what the differences are but are often not aware of the implications and/ or are too narrowly focused on the cost aspect. Although there are hybrid formulas combining Retained and Contingency search, the goal of this particular article is to provide an overview of both types of search and explain the respective pros and cons of each. READ MORE

Coming up in February 2022...

Social Media: Essential Interaction


As important as social media has been to hotels as a way to engage guests and drive direct bookings, it is becoming even more essential for hotels to implement a comprehensive social media strategy. All the major platforms have users numbering in the hundreds of millions - and in some cases, billions of users - so it is imperative for hotels to have an established presence on those massive channels. The goals of social media outreach are relatively clear-cut - identify and interact with current and prospective guests; create a brand voice that resonates with your target demographic; promote products, services, special offers, and contests; and acquire market data to support your business analytics. This is accomplished by creating imaginative and shareable content in order to give your brand maximum visibility, generate bookings, and keep guests interacting with your business throughout the entire customer journey. The February Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are successfully executing social media strategies for the benefit of their operations.