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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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.