Understanding the Potential of the Mobile for Hotel Guests
By Ryan Day Founding Partner, The Portal Live, LLC | November 20, 2011
The potential of the Mobile for hotel guests is based predominately around convenience. Everything guests desire may lie just a tap away, regardless of location. Todays smartphone technology combined with high-speed wireless internet and an ever expanding mobile application ecosystem provides travelers with a wide range of tools to get the most out of their vacations. Mobile apps essentially allow guests to carry their dedicated concierge in their pockets. Enhanced communication features, maps, discounts, event calendars, and even transportation options are just a few of the many valuable tools currently available to guests via mobile device.
The ability for guests to open a mobile app/web app and instantly connect to their hotel and surrounding area is changing the way hotels interact with their guests. Simply put, if a property hasn't implemented a well planned mobile strategy, then they are missing out on countless opportunities to connect with their guests and increase RevPAR.
The smartphone market is growing at an astonishing rate with an estimated 49.2% increase in 2011. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone vendors will ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011 compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010. Nielsen today estimates that by the end of 2011, smartphones will overtake feature phones in the U.S.. It's likely one in two Americans will have a smartphone by Christmas of 2011, Nielsen forecasts, compared to just one in 10 in the summer of 2008.
According to comScore, "In May, Browsers were used by 39.8 percent of subscribers (up 1.5 percentage points), while downloaded applications were used by 38.6 percent (up 2.0 percentage points). Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 1.8 percentage points to 28.6 percent of mobile subscribers."
Hotels of all sizes must offer mobile solutions to remain competitive in an increasingly tech savvy world, where guests arrive with expectations of what they consider to be convenient and of added value. Although not all guests will take advantage of the technology, other guests will expect it to be available. In some cases when choosing between closely comparable accommodations a compelling mobile application may be the key factor in deciding to book a reservation with a hotel or one of their competitors.
When it comes to the importance of having a mobile solution, size doesn't matter! Regardless if a hotel has twenty or 2,000 rooms, the benefit to each individual guest is equally important. I have heard it often while speaking with boutique hotels: "We only have 20 rooms so an app may be too much for us." This is a common misconception. With so many mobile solutions in the marketplace, their's an app to fit every hotels needs.