The Mobile Device: How to Maximize It

By Drew Rosser VP of Business Development, Whiteboard Labs | February 27, 2011

As a hotelier, a hotel chain you need to be much more just an adopter of these new technologies. You truly need to be an innovator and explorer of these technologies. You need to be looking at how you can better target market via these devices, to better service your client base before they arrive, better service them once they do arrive and how to better service them once they leave. As well as from an operation stand point how to maximize this technology to better serve your operation on a local and global landscape.

Nobody truly wants to be restricted to sitting at a desk in order to receive, send or gather information. At least the PC gave us some freedom. Then the mobile era kicked in. Already the mobile device is so much more than just a cell phone. They really are hand held computers allowing us to talk, SMS, MMS, Video chat, surf the Web, organize, play and be entertained. Especially now with the iPad and soon to be released competitive devices the race to grab our always-connected mentality is firmly embedded into our DNA. The key now is how to best make use of these very intriguing gadgets and how to use them in tandem with more traditional marketing and operational strategies.

I think everyone understands the need to have a mobile version of your hotel Web site along with a mobile booking engine designed for the mobile device or tablet like device such as the iPad. However, what else can be done or should be explored as possible uses for these amazing devices?

The overall key is relevant convenience. As a hotelier you do not want to come across as an annoying SMS sender or technology over loader to your client base. If you give your clients the ability to chose their preferred communication method then please respect that. However, the use of SMS is a great way to allow your clients to communicate to the hotel to ask for additional towels, alert you of potential problems, even request a wake up call or turn down service. I'm of the opinion that someone is much more likely to alert the hotel of a potential issue if they can easily SMS the hotel than find a house phone or find a staffer face to face. Even comments from the guest after check out can easily be handled by SMS. There are a number of companies out there offering this technology. When you doing your due diligence make sure that the technology truly gives you and your clients what is needed. Do not get caught up in the glitzy wow factor. Make sure that there is a solid infrastructure to support it and the tools deliver what you want.

For more operational types of daily activity think about being able to control specific aspects of your hotel's operation via one of these hand held devices. Rate manipulation, availability controls, access to specific types of reports. More importantly, alerts via email or SMS then if the CRS or even PMS were accessible via a hand held one could react to the alert. Close out a specific channel, open something up or make rate changes.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.