An Essential Guide to Hotel Mobile Media & Messaging Uses

By Tema Frank CEO, Frank Reactions | July 29, 2018

At a time when every member of your staff and all your guests over about the age of five use mobile phones, it is surprising how slow many hotels have been to adopt mobile tools to serve customers better and improve the bottom line. We are at a turning point, where hotels that don't get on board with what mobile has to offer will see their business slip away. Mobile technologies can help hotels offer customers what they want, when, where and how they want it. Mobile technology can also improve hotel efficiency and lower operating costs. But it is important to set the right priorities when investing in mobile. Most important: for every investment, ask yourself "how will this make my customer's life better?"

Customer experience is the main way hotels can stand out at a time when it is easy for new competitors to crop up (can you say AirBnb?) and trivial for customers to find lower prices. How can you make your guest experience different and memorable? That's something few hotels are managing right now: almost 70% of customers see "little to no noticeable difference" among hotel chains, according to IBM's Institute for Business Value. Since we are still in early days for mobile adoption by the hotel industry, there is a tremendous opportunity right now for those who seize this moment to set themselves above the crowd. 

Forty-three percent of travelers use mobile to look for – and increasingly to book --  accommodations, according to PhocusWire, so having a good presence in your prospects' mobile world can help you get found and chosen. To enter their mobile world means using a combination of mobile optimized websites, making it fast and easy to get questions answered via mobile, and streamlining the booking process so that people don't feel that it's too much hassle to complete the transaction on their phones.

Of course you also have to get them to find you in the first place, so mobile advertising and active participation in social media, especially visual media like Instagram, are also key.

Increasingly social platforms like Facebook are being used mainly for their messaging capabilities, so just having a Facebook page isn't enough. Prospective customers want to be able to have their questions answered on messaging apps and through SMS. This is especially true of millennials and their younger siblings, who now make up the biggest purchasing sector of most markets. These digital natives hate using telephones for phone calls; if you don't answer them in their preferred messaging tool they'll go elsewhere.

Recognizing this, Marriott Rewards, for example, has built its own extension for Facebook Messenger, Slack and WeChat. It makes it easy for people to use those messaging tools to search for hotel rooms, ask the hotel questions, connect with a concierge, and find fun things to do during their stay.

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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.