Broadening Your Guest Relationships through Mobile Interaction
By Zia Shiekh CEO, Svenska Hotels | February 13, 2011
If used effectively, the all-pervasive mobile phones can be an excellent means for hotels to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner. Unfortunately, like many other marketing channels, the medium is often abused and misused, resulting in customer dissatisfaction and disenchantment as they get spammed with mass marketing blasts on their phones.
While thoughtful and meaningful use of mobile technology can really work wonders for hotels, enabling them to reach and interact with their customers and prospects on a 1-on-1 basis; but with many marketers misusing such access with blatant disregard for privacy issues, the domain of mobile marketing is now fraught with great risks of backfiring.
The most popular method of leveraging mobile technology is through the short message service or SMS. Mobile marketing via SMS has become especially popular in Europe and Asia, with a billion messages estimated to being sent to mobile phones in these two continents every month. In contrast, multi-media message service or MMS is less popular but perhaps more powerful mobile technology, which enables companies to send slideshows of images, text, audio and/or video directly to the target's handset.
Given that nearly all new phones are now produced with a colour screen and are capable of receiving and sending MMS, this has opened new avenues for hotel companies to send rich content directly to their current and prospective customers. As the cell phone screens become better with higher resolutions and truer colours, the popularity of MMS is bound to grow, providing hotels with a great opportunity to wow the users with high-quality pictures of their properties, encouraging impulse purchases.
In fact, the most powerful aspect of mobile technology is not the one-way flow of marketing messages, but really in the interactivity features of the platform. As mobile technology enables immediate responsiveness from the recipient, it is really up to the hotel company how to best encourage the customer to "act" or "react" to the message. This "call to action" is perhaps the most important part of the messaging. If the "offer" is attractive enough or "perishable" over a defined period, the customer is more likely to respond back.
For example, after a guest has stayed at a hotel, a message from the General Manager thanking her for the business and asking for a quick "1-5" rating for guest satisfaction is much more likely to elicit a response from the guest than say an email with an elaborate form, which is more likely to end up in the junk mail folder. The guest is likely to treat the SMS as a more personal thank you note from the GM and feel obliged to respond back, especially as the cost of messaging has declined exponentially over the last decade, making it a platform where the customer doesn't have to really worry about the cost of messaging back.
The Hotel Business Review articles are free to read on a weekly basis, but you must purchase a subscription to access
our library archives. We have more than 5000 best practice articles on hotel management and operations, so our
knowledge bank is an excellent investment! Subscribe today and access the articles in our archives.