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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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.