Trends Defining a New Mobile Guest Engagement Model

By Tom Moore Retail and Hospitality Industry Lead , Zebra Technologies | January 10, 2016

In hospitality, the concept of guest engagement has changed dramatically over the last decade. Today, it's all about the quality of the connectivity you provide and empowering guests to interact with your hotel in new and meaningful ways. The experience you deliver means everything.

So, imagine if you could identify when a particular guest was arriving at the front entrance, send a personal message to his device that welcomes him back to the hotel and allows him to skip the check-in line and go right to his room. Your ability to cater to guests' needs from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave will determine the quality of that experience – both good and bad. And it takes technology to do it right.

It's not enough for a hotel to simply be aware of these new technology-driven trends. You must be in a position to take maximum advantage of them to enhance your image and build a strong competitive advantage. In its most basic form, empowering new levels of engagement takes reliable connectivity, a smartphone or other mobile device and an application interface. However, given connected devices will outnumber connected people six to one by 2020, it could impact any number of channels in the near future. Connected guests are happy guests and are more likely to come back and tell others about their experience. Here's a look at the trends defining hospitality mobile engagement strategies and tips to operationalize them.

More Wi-Fi Bandwidth Required

With guest expectations for almost constant connectivity only growing, ongoing investments in Wi-Fi infrastructure remain table stakes. But one look at guest reviews and ratings reveal it still remains an issue for many properties. Getting this right is a fundamental step toward achieving new standards of guest engagement and meeting guests' minimum expectations.

Wi-Fi's pervasiveness is virtually everywhere and many expect hospitality Wi-Fi to not only be fast and reliable, but free. Many hotels and resorts are either offering free Wi-Fi or tiered services based on speed and demand, but may not have the right infrastructure in place to deliver a truly differentiated service. Guests expect a connected experience that is as good as or even better than what they enjoy at home, so they can use their mobile devices to:

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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.