Why You Need Mobile Technology and How To Control It

By John Collins President, The Extreme Group, Inc. | January 06, 2013

Mobile technology is not the wave of the future; it's the wave of today. The entire world has gone mobile! In fact, if you don't have mobile solutions available for your clients you might be viewed as obsolete as soon as this time next year. In the last two years, worldwide mobile subscriptions have risen from 4.7 billion to over 6 billion, and in the developed countries, many people have more than one subscription. It's now safe to say that mobile technology has surpassed the saturation point.

Does that scare you? Do you feel like the airport shuttle doors just closed with you watching it pull away? Is your company still spending their time and money attempting to reach clients with traditional media spends? What changes must you make now to avoid becoming the next Kodak? How can you tap into this huge market? Are the rules of engagement different? How do you control it?

There are so many questions; it's easy to feel overwhelmed. When the iPhone launched and changed the world as we know it, many professionals, myself included, stood back and said, "I don't need a phone that allows me to pretend I'm feeding fish." What we didn't immediately recognize was the impact that smart phone technology would have on the world. Nor did we consider the speed at which those changes would occur. I believe USB Thumb drives are the only other technology that has been able to penetrate the marketplace as quickly as smart phones.

There is no doubt that if you aren't fully vested in mobile solutions immediately you will be viewed as old fashioned, if you are able to stay in business at all. So, the real question is where to start? While you may have some pieces in place already, you are going to need a three pronged approach to compete. First, if you don't have an app that does what your clients need; you are close to being fossilized. Second, if you aren't taking advantage of mobile advertising; you are leaving huge amounts of cash untapped. And thirdly, if you aren't monitoring what you clients are saying about you, you are very vulnerable.

In June of 2007, when the iPhone was first released no one was familiar with the word "apps"; however, in 2011 an amazing 29 billion apps were downloaded, close to a 30% growth in one year. The IDC predicts that global downloads will reach 76.9 billion in 2014 and will be worth $35 billion. Don't you think it's time to get involved in mobile technologies? "Yes!" is the only answer.

Consumers no longer ask if a company has an app, they ask, "What does your company's app do?" For a popular restaurant, at minimum, their app should include a way to make and check reservations, a push messenger that will let customers know when their table is ready, a way to let customers know the menu specials for that evening, and of course click buttons to share about their experiences on all of the familiar social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc.).

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.