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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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.