Mobile Technology - Changing the Way how Guests and Staff Interact

By Michaela Papenhoff Managing Director, h2c | January 08, 2012

Mobile isn't "producing"? Mobile is too small to invest money now? It is not a priority task on your list? Ian Carrington, Google's search engine director of mobile, made it very clear to the Travolution Summit audience in October 2011: "No mobile strategy, no future", he said. This statement is backed by the fact that searches from mobile devices account for 14% of Google's traffic; up from 10% in the previous year. 50% of the web interactions via a mobile phone start with a search query – have you thought about the impact on your search engine optimization/ search engine marketing strategy as search results are not identical with a "normal" web search?

This year, combined shipments of smartphones and tablets will outperform those of PCs. Next year, the growth of smartphones and tablets is expected to almost double vs. 2011 (Source: Morgan Stanley, The Economist). Gartner expects Android to continue outperforming Apple's iOS by almost triplicating its worldwide mobile communication device sales in 2015. Priceline is expecting a 50% increase of smartphone users over the forthcoming 12 to 18 months (that's why they have launched HotelTonight – a same-day booking app for the iPhone). The most recent PhoCusWright European Consumer Travel Report revealed that although today mobile phone users are using their phone mostly for sending SMSs, making photos/ videos, emailing and browsing the Internet, mobile hotel search and mobile bookings are expected to double over the next 12 months.

How does mobility impact hospitality?

Look at the graphic below. The impact of mobility on hotels is multi-faceted: sales and marketing, operations, guest services and customer retention management are the most relevant areas that require restructuring as the mobile strategy of your hotel/ hotel chain is evolving.

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The question who should be involved in a mobile strategy development process is not always easy to answer as mobility spans across all guest touch points at the hotel (points of sale), distribution channels, hotel operations, pre- and post-stay guest communication activities and other guest relations subjects such as reputation management. Mobility affects the search, shop, buy and retain process in all areas and guest interaction actually overlap throughout the value chain where every guest touch point adds to the entire experience (see graphic on mobile guest interactions below). Although maybe a challenge to hotel management, it should not turn out to be a threat: internal communication and coordination with other departments are more crucial than ever. Open discussions with all parties involved, the definition of clear responsibilities and procedures how to go ahead are a good basis for success, e.g. involving sales, marketing, revenue management, operations, IT and most likely accounts (e.g. for future mobile payment options). Once the mobile strategy brainstorming has been finalized, a task force should be made available to structure the ideas and oversee the implementation process. The management's major task is to translate the vision into opportunities, set the directions (e.g. KPIs) and instill the mobile "spirit" so that the team knows where to head to.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. 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.