Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.

This week's Top Pick...

Zoe Connolly

In this article we explore the traits that make group sales hunters special from others in the sales arena. Hunter tend to be self-driven and arguably possess certain innate traits that can't be taught even if the skills they exhibit can be acquired. The key is to recognize these traits when seeking hunters and then translate them into skills. Once you have identified hunters in the recruiting process you need to hold on to them and create an environment to allow them to flourish. By the same token it's usually a good idea to let the farmers farm and service your existing base of customers. Read on...

Library Archives

 
Mark Heymann

Mobile labor management tools promise hotel managers the ability to schedule staff and monitor performance in real time, on the go, while providing the open communication channels that are crucial to keeping a millennial workforce motivated. This article takes the real-life example of a leading hotel management company that is using mobile across its properties and includes interviews with several of its managers to see if-and how-going mobile has impacted their ability to manage and engage staff. READ MORE

Carlo Cisco

The advent and dramatic improvement of internet connectivity gave way to a plethora of new businesses and forever changed the way existing businesses and their customers connect. Smartphones have since given way to a new group of businesses and, in many cases, allowed for even deeper and more seamless connections between businesses and customers. As the technologies continue to improve and open platforms allow for consistent innovation by numerous companies, all industries are embracing these changes and continually looking for new ways to leverage them to improve their customer experience. READ MORE

Barbara Krzywoszanski

The intelligent use of 'big data' is essential to any growing business. The way data is analyzed and leveraged is unique to each operation. Big data refers to informational data sets that identify patterns, trends, and can be used as an element for operational predictions and forecasts. It is made up of volume, velocity and variety. Volume is the abundance of data. Velocity is the continuous accumulation of data. Variety is the combination of data sources that often reveal 'I didn't know that' moments when merged in analysis. Most hotels use big data to optimize how they market to and engage guests. However, forward looking hotel operators also use data analytics to create more efficient and profitable businesses. READ MORE

Tony Heung

Wi-Fi has become the fourth utility after water, gas and electricity and its importance is growing so significantly that a hotel room cannot be sold unless Wi-Fi is working at an acceptable service level. While traditional Wi-Fi is primarily used by the hotel guests to access the internet or by the hotel staff to access back-office applications, the explosion of Internet of Things (IoT) changes the dynamic of next generation Wi-Fi design within the hotel property. The investment in Wi-Fi infrastructure today is an investment in the future and the success of your hotel. READ MORE

Sridhar Laveti

The rise in mobile technology (mobility) adoption continues to shift the way many industries do business today. Mobile devices have empowered consumers to make informed decisions while enterprises have given employees the means to be more productive. Hospitality is one such industry that harnesses the power of mobile technology. And why not, when most consumers are walking around with computers in their pockets all day. These same tech-savvy consumers expect premium services and are quick to share their experiences - both good and bad - with the rest of the world through social platforms. The introduction of mobility is enabling hotel and resort brands to provide better guest service. This article summarizes some of the hottest mobile technology trends for everyday hospitality operations. READ MORE

Matt Schwartz

As Denver-based, hotel management and investment company, Sage Hospitality continues to expand into the independent hotel world, their Chief Technology Officer, Matthew Schwartz weighs in on a topic of discussion in their office and presumably other hotel developers worldwide – does it make sense to invest in a mobile app as an independent hotel, or are there other places hotels should be focusing their time and money on? This article explores the downside of consumer "app bloat" and looks toward more sound outlets that independents can capitalize on now while the app debate continues. READ MORE

Joe Schwinger

Mobile technology has transformed the hotel experience, putting countless services and amenities right at our fingertips. The next wave of technology, already gaining momentum around the industry, will take us beyond these simple conveniences and offer a new focus on customer preferences. The hotel room of the future, powered by next-generation technology and data, will be an incredibly personalized experience where guests can control their guest room environment in the same way they are accustomed to doing at home. The benefit is twofold - guests receive all the comforts of home, while offering new levels of customer loyalty for hotels. READ MORE

Ahmad Ouri

Connected technology is advancing quickly and hotels must be ready to meet or exceed the experiences guests have in their homes. By examining current consumer trends, guests expect a multiple device experience integrated seamlessly with the in-room technology. Those expectations include but are not limited to streaming, voice assistants, and environmental controls. These disparate products must work together – over the same infrastructure – to deliver a simple and seamless guest experience. With some smart planning and careful consideration in selecting a solution provider, it is possible to build a technology ecosystem that benefits both guests and hoteliers. READ MORE

Adam Gillespie

Hotels are in a unique position as a service based industry is as hotel owners are constantly replacing their technology on property. There are many advantages in how hotel technology can conform to Moore's law of advancement without experiencing a large capital expenditure every couple of years. As new technology incorporates the ability to display advertising targeted to the guest, all decision makers within the hospitality industry should be focused on the advertising revenue that is possible, along with considering options for the guest to be able to use these services easily before, during, and after their stay. READ MORE

Terence Ronson

Change and the mind-boggling speed at which it has shaped every aspect of our lives has been no more apparent than in our growing dependence on mobility. Just look around you – people clutching at their mobile devices as if their life depended on it. And maybe it does! Interestingly too, our dependence with mobility has been almost instant, a seemingly uncanny natural evolution. Almost every industry has been touched by what it offers, whether it be efficiency in the way we do things, or accessibility to data, however you define that to be. This article explores how this most disruptive technology has helped transform not only the hotel itself, but almost single handedly, every aspect of the guest experience. READ MORE

Tim Peter

You might hear some people suggest that we're entering the year of mobile, but that's not quite right. Yes, mobile has promised gains for the last few years, but are you ready to achieve these breakthroughs for your property. Despite massive increases in mobile traffic, there are a major reasons why so many hotels are not generating significant increases in reservations and revenue. Why is that? What's holding mobile bookings back? And, more importantly, in an era when mobile has come to the fore and driving direct revenues has taken center stage, what can you do to increase bookings on mobile for your properties? READ MORE

Scott Schaedle

The digital era has ushered in a wave of innovations forever changing the way hoteliers do business, and technology is now of paramount importance to any forward-thinking hotel executive. Even the most reluctant of properties must confront how to make way for a more connected guest experience or risk getting left behind. In fact, according to the 2018 Hotel Technology Study, 62.1 percent of hotels want to increase spending on mobility technology in the next two years. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons exemplify one such mobile technology hoteliers need to include in their 2019 budgets. READ MORE

Court Williams

The hospitality industry is changing, and is rapidly becoming super high-tech. While we can argue that this benefits guests-and it certainly benefits vendors-how much is it taking away from the guest's personal experience? Theoretically, it should improve the customer experience, particularly through the use of data collected by using the various technologies. Let's look at how guests actually feel, especially the Baby Boomers who look set to remain the most prolific travelers for the next two to three years, and see if the numbers support the theory that technology has improved the hospitality experience. READ MORE

Scott Watson

In the front of house, today's guests are more connected than ever, equipped with the ability to wield a smartphone like a magic wand from check-in to check-out. Meanwhile, staff members should be using the same mobile connectivity to accelerate operations for the back of house. This article explores the critical link between enhanced customization and rising customer expectations, as well as the needs for brands to "mobilize" their back-office accounting practices to bring staff members (at every level) up to speed and leverage "big data" to keep up with the industry's ever changing needs. READ MORE

David Millili

Hotels continue to feel the effects of the sharing economy, so much so that chains, such as Marriott, are moving into the alternative accommodations sector. However, most properties have natural assets they can harness to deliver on what guests want without reinventing their model. To recoup revenue sometimes lost to sharing sites, hotels must boost their value proposition. This includes assessing how and when travelers want technology, leveraging staff in the right way and at the ideal times, and using data to their advantage in creating guest relationships that alternative accommodations simply cannot. Fortunately, every tactic will improve the overall guest experience, boosting a hotel's overall ability to serve the modern traveler. READ MORE

Mattias Berglund

The messaging inbox of a mobile device is truly unique and it should be considered a privilege for an enterprise to be granted access to this sacred place. Moreover, the mobile phone and therefore the messaging inbox has a market penetration of close to 100% in the United States. End users read, or at least 94% of them, will read what is sent to their messaging inbox. That is extremely powerful and no other technology or marketing channel can even get close to these numbers. Furthermore, Rich Communication Services or RCS is an evolution path and a merger of mobile communication channels such as SMS and MMS. READ MORE

Elizabeth DeConti

Recently, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act ("PASPA"), finding that the federal legislation violated the anti-commandeering doctrine of the U.S. Constitution. Murphy v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Assn. et al. Previously PASPA had outlawed "sports betting" or gambling on the outcome of professional or collegiate athletic contests. As a result, states are now free to decide whether they wish to allow gambling on professional and collegiate sports inside their borders, or whether they wish to legislate guardrails or prohibitions around sports gambling. Allowing sports betting will have ramifications for any hospitality venue with a sports bar, lounge, or recreational facility. READ MORE

Michael Wildes

Immigration courts are not sufficiently independent tribunals because immigration judges work directly under the State Department, and serve at the pleasure of the Attorney General, as do the assistant chief counsels, or the "prosecutors" in immigration courts. Recently, the Attorney General has taken a more hands-on approach in overseeing immigration courts by imposing performance quotas on immigration judges, which impairs their judicial independence. One solution is to extract immigration courts from the ambit of the State Department and to establish a more independent, Article III immigration court in the same vein as bankruptcy and tax courts. READ MORE

Linda Pierce

Cyber fraud has been making headlines around the world for its destructive impact on businesses and consumers through data breaches, email phishing scams and ransomware attacks. Once a business has been compromised, the potential loss to business owners from cyber fraud is significant in terms of the actual loss sustained, potential lost or damaged business relationships, legal proceedings and adverse publicity. As hotel directors, managers and property owners examine effective strategies to combat cyber fraud, it is imperative they consult with their risk managers for a solution before a threat arises. READ MORE

William A. Brewer

For the last decade, home-sharing services have disrupted segments of the hotel industry, threatening to flip the script on market-supply. Airbnb and other online platforms are poised for further growth, particularly within the super-luxury segment. Their emergence has pitted global hotel chains against homeowners, as well as major metropolitan cities against multi-billion-dollar tech interests. An analysis of market and legal issues surrounding short-term home-sharing reveals its sound legal footing. The need for market-players to adapt to the continued presence of these services, as well as the important role of attorneys well-versed in this debate, is brought into focus. READ MORE

Coming up in December 2019...

Hotel Law: A Labor Crisis and Cyber Security

According to a recent study, the hospitality industry accounted for 2.9 trillion dollars in sales and in the U.S. alone, was responsible for 1 in 9 jobs. In an industry of that scope and dimension, legal issues touch every aspect of a hotel's operation, and legal services are required in order to conform to all prevailing laws and regulations. Though not all hotels face the same issues, there are some industry-wide subjects that are of concern more broadly. One of those matters is the issue of immigration and how it affects the ability of hotels to recruit qualified employees. The hotel industry is currently facing a labor crisis; the U.S. Labor Department estimates that there are 600,000 unfilled jobs in the industry. Part of the problem contributing to this labor shortage is the lack of H2B visas for low-skilled workers, combined with the difficulty in obtaining J-1 visas for temporary workers. Because comprehensive immigration reform is not being addressed politically, hotel managers expect things are going to get worse before they get better. Corporate cyber security is another major legal issue the industry must address. Hotels are under enormous pressure in this area given the large volume of customer financial transactions they handle daily. Recently, a federal court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission had the power to regulate corporate cyber security, so it is incumbent on hotels to establish data security programs in order to prevent data breaches. The lack of such programs could cause hotels to face legal threats from government agencies, class action lawsuits, and damage to their brand image if a data breach should occur. These are just two of the critical issues that the December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine in the area of hotel law.