Guest Mobility as a Key to Hotel Success

By Adam Gillespie Founder, BroadView IP | January 10, 2016

Hotel properties have suffered from a dramatic loss in guest service revenues starting with the in-room telephone, high costs for low rates of bandwidth to dwindling pay-tv take rates. Device mobility has allowed for guests to continue to circumnavigate the ways hotels can charge for sponsored technology services using everyday applications such as Skype, personal Wi-Fi hotspots and entertainment services such as Netflix and Hulu. This is leaving hotels scrambling to find superior ways to introduce new applications that can capture the guests' attention and accelerate immediate purchase decisions.

This wide range of device and application adoption means that hotels need to compete for their guests' attention like no other in order to make up for lost revenue with immediate purchase options and to also consider subscription-based applications and points of sale which can lead to residual-based revenues beyond the guest's hotel stay.

Very few technologies have changed the fabric of American life as much as the mobile phone. Twenty years ago only a handful of business types carried mobile phones, now nearly all of us have one in our pocket. But what's even more important is that the cell-phone has evolved into a small computer and integrated communication center that we carry around with us. Mobile technology has become an ever present force in our lives and has rapidly changed the way we interact with each other and the world, and how hotels can interact with and drive new revenue channels from their guests using mobile devices.

Nearly every consumer business in the world is being affected by the rapid proliferation and development of mobile technology. The hotel business is no different. Potential guests are increasingly using mobile technology to find hotels, check on the availability of rooms and to read reviews. Once they check in, guests expect to be able to continue using their mobile devices, tablets, and lap-top computers to do business, keep in contact with loved ones, and to be entertained. What was once considered an amenity offered primarily for business travelers is now an absolute must.

Mobile technology, in particular, lends itself to in-location marketing tactics such as geo-targeting, geo-fencing and beacon technology. The advantage to these technologies is that they allow the marketer to reach guests directly on their mobile devices with customer service-focused messages and alerts while inside or near a hotel.

Studies from Hotel Internet Services show that when asked what devices guests normally carried with them on their travels, close to 76% carried smartphones, 68% laptops and close to 62% tablets. Hotel guests are connecting multiple electronic devices to the hotel internet network and these devices can be tapped and targeted for new ways of improving guest revenues.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.