Engaging the Mobile Traveler

By Michelle Wohl VP of Marketing & Client Services, Revinate | December 28, 2014

When I leave my house every morning, I go through a mental checklist. Keys? Wallet? Phone? Only when I have all three in my bag am I comfortable with walking out the door to begin my day. Without my keys, I won't be able to start my car and get to work. Without my wallet, I won't be able to legally drive or buy lunch. And without my phone, I won't be able to function. It's not an exaggeration to say that I would feel helpless without my phone – and I'm not alone. A recent B2X and Motorola Mobility LLC survey found that Americans are, in fact, addicted to their smartphones. Here are the facts that the survey uncovered:

• 74 percent keep their smartphones within reach throughout the entire day
• 60 percent sleep with their phones -- and that number increases to 84 percent in the 18- to 29-year-old demographic
• 17 percent of women would give up their best friend for a week instead of their smartphone
• 53 percent keep their phone sound on even while they sleep

When it comes to travel, our phones have become a critical part of the planning phase, booking process and the travel journey itself. When planning a trip, the volume of information available to travelers has made the research phase exhausting, with customers visiting dozens of sites before booking and often switching from mobile to desktop to tablet, depending on where they are. They might start on a tablet in bed, then switch to a desktop at work, then continue the research on a mobile phone during a commute, for example.

PhoCusWright reports that 41 percent of travelers research travel using mobile devices. And while, historically, the booking typically happened on a computer, the number of mobile bookings is now rising. The Travel Flash Report reveals that mobile bookings are growing faster than desktop: 20 percent versus 2 percent over the first six months of 2014. Twenty-five- to thirty-four-year-olds are the most mobile-heavy, comprising 38 percent of total users booking on mobile.

This new breed of smartphone-loving traveler prefers online communication to many forms of traditional, in-person interaction with hotel staff. On-property, they use social networks or online review sites to determine dining options in town instead of visiting the concierge desk. They get driving or walking directions using their location-aware devices versus asking the front desk for directions. And they share their feedback on online review sites or social media versus completing the comment cards provided to them.

These travelers demand easy access to information around the clock and expect a great experience from any device. Mobile is no longer a nice-to-have for hotels. It's quickly becoming a critical channel for driving a strong connection between the hotel and its guests. Mobile provides hotels with a highly engaging format for interacting with guests pre-stay, on-premise and after the stay. And, with mobile, guests have an always-on channel to get the information and services they need during their stay.

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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.