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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Coming up in January 2019...

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.