Mobile Technology: The Game Has Changed Forever

Consider these astounding numbers - it is forecast that in 2016 there will be 196 million smart phone users in North America alone. Worldwide the number of users is expected to surpass 2 Billion. According to hotel internet marketing firm HeBs Digital, currently more than 21% of online bookings and nearly 19% of room nights are generated from mobile devices (smart phones and tablets), while 45% of web visitors and nearly 40% of page views originate from them as well. Consumers are also increasingly using their smart phones for search queries, with more Google searches taking place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan. Advances in mobile technology have changed the game forever and for hotels, that means having a mobile strategy is now as critical and necessary as having an Internet presence. Hotels must engage guests/travelers on their mobile devices and to add value to their experience. Mobile check-in, mobile payment options and mobile SmartKeys are quickly becoming commonplace features, as is the capacity for guests to place requests for all hotel services directly from their mobile device from anywhere on the property. In addition, some larger chains are creating their own apps which serve to enhance other facets of their operations - marketing, branding, cross-selling and impulse buying - all of which contribute to increased revenue and guest satisfaction. Still other companies are experimenting with the potential uses of wearable technology and the possibilities of geo-targeting promotions. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this mobile space, and will report on the solutions that are proving to be most beneficial for both companies and their guests.

Library Archives

Mary Gendron

Social media continues to be akin to a wild rollercoaster ride with new developments around every curve. Yesterday's top influencer may find itself on a steep decline with upstarts becoming mainstream in a moment. For the uninitiated - or those with a day job that differs - it can be overwhelming. But to those of us in the business of connecting B to C, it's exhilarating and ever stimulating. Here's an overview of some of what's happening now on the social media landscape - developments that hoteliers may want to consider as part of marketing strategy. Opportunities abound to connect with - and surprise and delight - guests and to attract new ones. On the surface, it's all about creating relevant content that resonates with travelers. But a deeper look into analytics can uncover new strategies and approaches to connect, engage and turn prospects into customers. Before we look at some trends, let me offer the disclaimer that the few week's lag time between the writing of this article and its publication may have produced even more to think about for 2016. Let's take a look: READ MORE

Alan E. Young

When it comes to identifying a brand advocate, nothing can rival the passion and loyalty of a sports fan. While it is highly unlikely that we will ever witness a colleague walking into the office sporting a Marriott™ logo on their t-shirt while shouting, "Guess where I'm going tonight?", hoteliers are striving to capture that same level of enthusiasm with their guests. Social media has forever changed the way consumers interacts with brands. Static, points based loyalty programs may encourage repeat business, however, they fall short in converting guests into true advocates. Has the traditional loyalty model become ineffective? What is the difference between loyalty and advocacy? How to create a compelling advocate marketing plan? Most importantly, can we measure an ROI on advocacy? READ MORE

Peter Brooke

Hotels of all sizes are finding success using social media to drive their rewards program. The challenges you face as you build your hotel reward program - establishing great perks, creating an easy path to earn extra reward points, and introducing your program to guests - can all be achieved using the right social media strategies. Learn how to employ the best social media strategies to drive engagement and increase enrollment in your hotel's loyalty rewards program, from setting up a social media-powered referral program to establishing VIP social media accounts, using social concierge accounts to improve your hotel's reputation, and more. READ MORE

Robert Rauch

Live video streaming is not necessarily a new technology, but it has recently experienced quite the rise in popularity. A generation filled with “cord-cutters” has turned Internet video into the new cable TV. As hoteliers, we know that marketing is no longer a straight path, but rather a box of tools for us to utilize given our property's needs. Live video streaming is marketing's shiny new tool that is loved by the millennial market and what might be better termed the “millennial mindset” market. Clearly, other generations love technology just as much and not all millennials love it, so the hype is not necessarily geared solely to the 20-35 year old market. So let's take a look at how live video streaming began, what caused its recent emergence and what the future holds for this rapidly developing technology. READ MORE

Craig Spitzer

Making Technology fit Within an Urban Modern Aesthetic with Zhone Technologies' Space-Saving FiberLAN Solution Durham, North Carolina, has a vibe all of its own: think Southern hospitality meets tech hub. This close-knit community is thriving, with everyone from entrepreneurs to artists creating a new, vibrant energy throughout the city. Building on this entrepreneurial spirit is The Durham Hotel, a 53-room independent hotel in the heart of downtown Durham. READ MORE

Pedro Colaco

Mobile technology transformed our lives in a way we never imagined a decade ago. According to comScore, compared to 2010, mobile usage has grown +394% and eMarketer predicts that smartphone users will exceed 2 billion in 2016. If you think these numbers are unrealistic, just look around, you probably will see someone using a smartphone. Mobile has become the starting point for most everyday activities, from texting to checking your office mail or online shopping. Chances are that some of these mobile shoppers may be looking for your business, and if you aren't there, you are missing the party. READ MORE

Duane Hepditch

Communication channels are constantly changing. Most of this change is down to mobile, and the effect it's had on how consumers behave and how they engage with each other. Whether it be communicating through their social media feeds or email, researching places to eat, travel, shop, reading the news or managing day-to-day tasks. This influence from mobile has affected how all brands communicate with their customers and how they build brand trust and loyalty. READ MORE

Darren Panto

The subject of this article is the most common complaint I've been hearing for the last few months, from hoteliers who are unhappy about their number one supplier: the OTA (Online Travel Agency). As an enterprise platform developer to the hospitality industry, we are in the privileged position of hearing the most up-to-date requirements of hotels and their guests from a technology and guest facing point of view. We are also amongst the first to hear their complaints and issues and this includes the current dominance of the hotel booking market by the OTAs such as Priceline and Expedia. READ MORE

Megan McManaman

Mobile technology's impact on the travel and hospitality industry is far greater than the ability to check in on your smartphone; it's impacting how we collect, understand and implement the insights we collect from our guests. It's also changing how we respond to guests with issues. In this article, CMB's travel and hospitality practice leader explores some of the exciting opportunities mobile technology presents for hotel guest insights - with the reminder to focus on the customer not on the technology. READ MORE

Alastair Cush

Hospitality press is full of stories on the growing popularity of mobile keys and the apps that support them. Much of the publicity leads hoteliers to believe that all their guests need is a mobile phone or wristband to do everything from unlocking guestroom doors to ordering cocktails by the pool. Surrounded by media pressure, many hoteliers today are mystified about how - or even if - they should commit the resources to develop mobile key guest access services for their properties. The major chains make this decision for franchisees, but not for independents. Chains already use mobile apps to drive loyalty programs and promote amenities and services. Smaller properties will soon be able to follow suit. This paper offers guidelines on how operators can make an informed mobile access decision and intelligent implementation plan. READ MORE

Marcus Robinson

Cornell's Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) recently published The Mobile Revolution Is Here: Are you Ready? They surveyed several hundred travelers and asked about their expectations regarding a mobile offering from their host. The findings support what progressive hospitality brands have been suspecting - that we exist in an industry built on the assumption that guests desire a drawn out welcome as they walk in the door - but that's not what guests say they want anymore. What are they saying? They want what Uber and AirBNB are giving them. They want to know when the car's going to arrive so they don't have to wait. They want to know when their room is going to be ready. READ MORE

Sara O'Brien

Dynamic Content Personalization for hotels includes delivering unique and relevant textual, visual, and promotional content based on a variety of things: demographics, location, how the visitor is navigating the website, their past booking history, reward program affiliation, and type of customer (leisure, business, family, meeting / event planner, etc.). READ MORE

Timothy Shea

In recent years, the hospitality industry has experienced a surge of interest surrounding the ability to provide guests with convenient alternatives for interacting with properties and their services. While maintaining a priority on offering the latest in security innovation, hotels have also experienced an ever-increasing demand for greater convenience and personal preference in the way that guests gain access to their assigned rooms. This has resulted in security access technology evolving in a manner that now provides the industry with some of the most guest experience-enhancing solutions to date. READ MORE

Amy Abatangle

Mobile threats are surging in hotel environments and elsewhere. From specialized infections that target hotel guests to spyphone apps that monitor a guest's location and communications, malware is proliferating in the mobile space. What's more, the devices that are used and characterized as “mobile” are more diverse than ever. Anything used to connect to a public wireless network, including laptops, tablets and phablets are all fair game for mobile malware. Products like the Microsoft Surface are used and classified as mobile devices and are now becoming a significant target. Here we take a look at the current trends and threats plus a few best practices for hotels to protect their public and private network traffic. READ MORE

Tony Heung

Whether it's guest facing or hotel internal operations, mobile strategy is happening amongst all the major brands and quite rightly so. Whether it's mobile booking, mobile check-in and mobile key access, or check in via a tablet and reporting room clean status via tablet and mobile PoS device, surround mobile becomes key to the hotel industry. It is predominantly the “during” experience that becomes the key differentiator between brands. In order to facilitate an excellent stay experience, the key foundation is a purpose-built and consistent wireless/wired network that allows all different applications to effectively and securely operate on a single converged network. READ MORE

Tom Moore

In hospitality, the concept of guest engagement has changed dramatically over the last decade. Today, it's all about the quality of the connectivity you provide and empowering guests to interact with your hotel in new and meaningful ways. The experience you deliver means everything. So, imagine if you could identify when a particular guest was arriving at the front entrance, send a personal message to his device that welcomes him back to the hotel and allows him to skip the check-in line and go right to his room. Your ability to cater to guests' needs from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave will determine the quality of that experience - both good and bad. And it takes technology to do it right. READ MORE

Pam Angelucci

The quality of cell phone reception at hotels and resorts is critical to guests. Ppopular online review sites even have categories such as: best hotels with cell phone reception. Why is this so revealing? Because many hotels don't offer good cellphone reception - and that it's a big consumer concern. READ MORE

Bill Cune

Property managers are adding mobile check-ins, smartphone room keys, and mobile concierge services but do not necessarily have the infrastructure to support all of these new services. What considerations do hotel owners need to make to support this "mobile white space" in the hotel IT ecosystem? READ MORE

Anthony Maggio

A new era of business-to-customer communications is taking shape and, in this new world, fast, intimate, service-oriented communications are eclipsing traditional broadcast marketing. In a world where service experiences are instantly made public on TripAdvisor and where communication is increasingly integral to service delivery, real-time interactions with customers are now essential for service brands. Consumers expect to engage and receive service through the mobile channels where they live their lives. Effective, Real-Time Customer Relationship Management (RTCRM) turns customers into brand advocates and results in the development of world-class brands. READ MORE

Mark Hoare

There is no scarcity of impressive numbers and statistics espousing the exponential growth in the use of smart-phones and other mobile devices across the globe. Equally we have abundant access to these same data-points professionally refined and indexed specifically to the Connected-Traveler, also known as our addressable market. However, as an industry do we adequately understand how to intersect this market with highly relevant guest-facing mobile solutions? In this article we review where we came from, the challenges we have overcome, where we are now, and most importantly identify initiatives to improve adoption and subscription rates to our guest-facing mobile offerings. READ MORE

Coming up in June 2018...

Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. 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.