Time for Hotels to Move Beyond the App

Why Mobile Strategy is More Important Than Ever, But Demands New Direction

By Drew Patterson Co-Founder & CEO, CheckMate | November 22, 2015

Mobile technology has rightly been lauded as a transformative tool for hotel service delivery. The ability to interact with guests throughout a stay enables hotels to be far more personalized in their service, to respond more quickly in service recovery situations, and to drive incremental revenue.

Unfortunately, mobile technology has been conflated with development of hotel-branded native apps. The mechanics of app downloads and consumer engagement were overlooked as hotels rushed to develop their own native app.

As a result, mobile technology's promise to transform hotel service delivery has not materialized. Investment in mobile apps have failed to deliver on promised ROI for hoteliers. For most guests, communication with a hotel has not evolved since the launch of the iPhone.

Fortunately, non-app mobile strategies - such as SMS and email - offer greater guest usage at lower cost, allowing hotels to transform their service and operations. For hotels eager to develop a better understanding of their customer and deliver more personalized service, this is a perfect time to revisit their mobile strategy and explore guest communication.

Why Does Mobile Communication Matter?

Before talking about the specific challenges of apps, let's talk about why mobile communication is so critically important.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.