Mobile Sites versus Mobile Apps: What hotels need to consider when developing a mobile presence

By David Millili Chief Executive Officer, Runtiz | January 22, 2012

Before we get to the question of whether you need a mobile site or a mobile app, there are two things you should know.

1. Mobile does not replace Desktop

First, while mobile adoption is accelerating in terms of the number of users researching or managing travel, we're not seeing attrition in desktop website demand. Rise in use of mobile does not translate to a drop in the use of desktops for shopping. Consumers are actually using both – maybe initially researching on mobile, deciding and booking via desktop, then revising on mobile.

Mobile site or mobile app, you better make sure your main website is working for you before you can expect returns on your investment in another channel – it will always serve as your foundational sales tool in mobile, social media, and even OTA shopping.

2. Mobile requires connectivity

Secondly, your mobile presence relies on connectivity, which ultimately will be the most important determinant of whether your mobile strategy succeeds or fails. I don't care how well designed or deployed your mobile site is, if it isn't supported by solid and reliable connectivity, then it's not worth it. Servers have generally pushed content based on what platform is being used – smartphone, desktop, tablet, etc. However, the emerging use of responsive web design for hotel sites has ushered in an era of greater efficiency and consistency in the sale of rooms via mobile.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.