The Growing Importance of Mobile Marketing Strategies for Hotels

By Jennifer Dunphy Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Vayu Media | January 05, 2014

Over the past two years, multiple studies have confirmed the importance of mobile marketing and the improved performance metrics of mobile vs. other avenues of digital advertising, especially as it pertains to the hospitality industry and hotels. Now, newer studies are starting to reveal more subtle insights into mobile consumer behavior. One study even revealed that an overwhelming 50 percent of travel-related mobile queries result in a purchase.

With society's hyper-connected mentality and with over 75% of the world having access to mobile phones, and over 50 million people using tablets in the US alone, the possibilities of where mobile is poised to go is infinite.

So why is it that mobile communications are able to yield such tremendous returns for marketers? It is because effective mobile campaigns allow you to speak to your guests personally, targeted to the right time with a sense of urgency when they are ready to book their accommodations. Studies have shown that up to 42% of US consumers prefer to get offers delivered via text and 97% of mobile subscribers will read a text within 15 minutes. Can you imagine the power this could have to turbo charge your current marketing efforts?

The Facts

The number of smartphones in use worldwide has now exceeded the 1 billion mark. To put things into perspective, last year, more people purchased smartphones than PCs. Even with the glaringly obvious potential for marketers to capitalize on this skyrocketing growth of mobile device adoption, only a dismal 15% of companies have a mobile optimized site. To further magnify marketers' mobile sense of urgency, Google estimates that there will be more Web traffic via mobile, than through PCs this year.

With infinite ways to chop and dice data, the one thing all the results have in common is that the numbers are all in favor of mobile' role in the future of hotel marketing. For good reason, the mobile travel behavior and mobile usage of hotel guests have been receiving a lot of attention over the past few years. Millennial Media published data showing that the travel category has moved from ninth to third position in terms of mobile ad spending in the course of one year from 2011-2012.

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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.