Mobile Technologies: The New Powerhouses for Increased Hotel Revenues And Guest Engagement

By Vanessa Horwell Founder & Chief Visibility Officer, ThinkInk & TravelInk'd | December 28, 2014

What is emerging as the biggest mobile-powered technology opportunity for the hotel industry in 2015? To borrow a phrase from the real estate world, it's "location, location, location".

Hotels -- by their very nature – are about location. And location within the context of hotel marketing today is increasingly defined by the mobile device: a smartphone or tablet (and increasingly both) that now always accompany a traveler or guest into a property or resort. Free to email, text, chat, shop, search, snap or even sketch from almost anywhere through their mobile device, today's travelers and hotel guests expect the places they visit – including hotels – to reciprocate.

Why is this behavior so important to hotels? Guests who are more satisfied and engaged are the avenues to higher occupancy rates and RevPAR, higher satisfaction scores, and more positive customer reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations - not to mention greater opportunities for ancillary revenue generation from other hotel services.

This mobile-empowered guest behavior presents tremendous opportunities for hoteliers in 2015 for what's known as in-location marketing – promotions and communications delivered directly to guests' mobile devices within a specific geographic area -- by hoteliers in 2015. Results from a Magnani Caruso Dutton (MCD) hotel survey on loyalty indicate that 74% of guests want "substantial digital involvement" during their hotel stay, while 80% want the ability to personalize their hotel-stay preferences and save the information so that future experiences are seamless from visit to visit, hotel to hotel, location to location.

The same MCD survey found that 70% travelers say the quality of a hotel's web site or app is a determining factor in whether to book a stay or not – making the relevance of the mobile interactions even more critical and impactful.

These kinds of preferences and behavior shifts should give hotel executives and their marketing teams the impetus to adopt the best practices, know-how and technologies involved with in-location and "on-site" proximity marketing. Well-tailored proximity marketing campaigns in hotels can provide not only what guests and visitors want on their mobile devices, but also can do so in ways that are meaningful, satisfying, relevant and personalized.

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Architecture & Design: Expecting the Unexpected

There are more than 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide and the hotel industry is continually looking for new ways to differentiate its properties. In some cases, hotels themselves have become travel destinations and guests have come to expect the unexpected - to experience the touches that make the property unlike any other place in the world. To achieve this, architects and designers are adopting a variety of strategies to meet the needs of every type of guest and to provide incomparable customer experiences. One such strategy is site-integration - the effort to skillfully marry a hotel to its immediate surroundings. The goal is to honor the cultural location of the property, and to integrate that into the hotel's design - both inside and out. Constructing low-impact structures that blend in with the environment and incorporating local natural elements into the design are essential to this endeavor. Similarly, there is an ongoing effort to blur the lines between interior and exterior spaces - to pull the outside in - to enable guests to connect with nature and enjoy beautiful, harmonious surroundings at all times. Another design trend is personalization - taking the opportunity to make every space within the hotel original and unique. The days of matching decor and furniture in every room are gone; instead, designers are utilizing unexpected textures, mix-and-match furniture, diverse wall treatments and tiles - all to create a more personalized and fresh experience for the guest. Finally, lobbies are continuing to evolve. They are being transformed from cold, impersonal, business-like spaces into warm, inviting, living room-like spaces, meant to provide comfort and to encourage social interaction. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.