Upselling Your Guests Through Mobile Apps

By Tom O'Rourke President & CEO, O'Rourke Hospitality | March 26, 2017

In the hotel industry, we are so busy talking about selling more rooms, more food and more beverages that we often overlook how effective the channels we use to market these offerings actually are. Many hotels still use outdated and ineffective marketing channels. Mobile applications provide hoteliers with a totally new channel through which they can interact with their guests on a more personal level, which increases guest satisfaction and loyalty as well as hotel revenues. Mobile apps offer countless opportunities to connect with guests that were not possible before the 2008 debut of the App Store on iTunes and subsequent adoption of mobile applications by smartphone users. In the past seven years, mobile app technology has exploded and hotels are set to benefit from it.

Personalized messages sent from the app to specific guests are key to successfully upselling products and services. Unlike other newer marketing channels such as Facebook and Twitter, which push messages out to everyone, the mobile app can target a more specific segment of guests. Personalizing marketing efforts drives revenues upwards because guests are more likely to respond.

The mobile hotel application facilitates sending personalized messages to guests through push segmentation. This technology allows the hotel to segment guests in many ways and send push notifications only to a certain selection of guests, ensuring the messages guests receive are personalized. Push segmentation provides endless opportunities to interact with a subset of guests.

These interactions are meaningful and effective because the segmentation basis ensures that the messages are relevant to the guests. A hotel can use push segmentation to target guests on property, those expected to arrive that day, or guests traveling with children. Push segmentation can be leveraged to wish someone a Happy Birthday, invite couples celebrating an anniversary to book a romantic dinner, or welcome a young family to have lunch at the resort's snack bar. It can even be used to alert guests who are on-property of the restaurant's dinner specials that evening, hopefully piquing interest and driving business. The possibilities are as diverse and unique as your guests!

Push segmentation is especially beneficial when targeting guests who have not yet arrived. The app can notify guests of available tables in the hotel's restaurant and invite them to book a table. Upon receiving the push notification, guests realize they can book a reservation within the app. They open the application, easily and quickly enter their information and within seconds, a confirmation of their reservation saves in the app. The push notification feature of mobile apps subtly upsells the hotel's restaurant simply by reminding guests of it and allowing them to easily reserve a table.

Some existing hotel apps use Open Table to book reservations. Open Table is a real-time, web-based reservation system that allows guests to create reservations online at thousands of restaurants. While Open Table has it's own app, it is possible to integrate it within the hotel app for an easy and seamless reservation process. Many hotel restaurants are integrated with Open Table on their websites so it is natural to integrate it with the app.

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.