Mobility - The Key that Unlocks the Future

By Terence Ronson Managing Director, Pertlink Ltd. | January 13, 2019

Since Apple launched the iPhone on 29th June 2007, mankind has become exponentially tethered to mobility. The dream – the vision – the promise given to us by the late Steve Jobs, was to free us humble homo- sapiens from the need to be fixed to a certain location – and not just for the purpose of making or receiving calls, but more importantly, to process data in a manner, previously alien to us. More than a decade later, it is only right to ask ourselves the question: "Has this been achieved?" I think we can all safely agree – yes it has – and depending on your point of view, for good or bad… 

In fact, being mobile – is the only condition many of us care about. We have become so used to this [luxury] that our lives revolve around the ability to do anything anywhere, and anytime on a device measuring 6-inches diagonally - more or less. 

Initially, one could have considered the iPhone as a solution looking for a problem. But not too long after its dramatically awaited birth, it, in turn, spawned numerous new and embryonic industries and as an example, just look at Apple's App Store which has experienced 25 billion downloads, and Google's Play Store has ballooned to around 3m apps, where these subsidiary businesses rake in billions of U.S. dollars per year – and admittedly, they do rev-share this new wealth with developers. We have become so attached - so dependent on these gadgets that heaven forbid, if we leave home without our phone or try to eat a meal without this piece of tech being close at hand, so we can Instagram what we are eating, or have our conversation, sometimes rudely interrupted by others using some form of IM, we feel lost. And if we happen to experience 2-signal bars or have less than 20% battery power remaining, we rapidly move into a state of desperation. 

Hardly a day goes by without there being some exciting news of a mobile device coming onto the market such as the new generation iPad Pro, or the thrill of an upgrade around the corner to either hardware or software. This phenomenon has transformed our attitude and value towards software which is not surprising, since there are - [tongue in cheek] a gazillion apps out there – ranging from free to "as much as people are willing to pay" for an extra thrill such as in first person shooter or other action types, or a certain function – and there literally is an app for that, or very soon will be, as in the case of the fully loaded Photoshop for iPad coming in 2019. This does not take into account paywalls increasingly being erected by media companies – who are desperately struggling to charge for their services.

The Hotel industry is not quarantined from being impacted by the mobility epidemic. Over the last few decades, it has dabbled, struggled, and in selected cases failed with tech. But none will have such a greater and lasting influence than mobility. This is inevitable knowing how other businesses have benefitted from this generational disruptor. Strategic decisions, especially those involving business transformation and digitization can no longer be made in the Board Room without firstly taking mobile into consideration. We are – constantly asking ourselves: "are we confident with our mobility strategy – are we doing enough – can we strengthen this as a direct booking channel - do we have the right people to lead this?" and that includes branding and marketing, design development, recruitment, and day to day operations. 

Whole new ways of doing things are influencing the guest journey - from booking to check-in, opening your room door, controlling the in-room experience, providing entertainment, complaining, blogging, ordering services, payments and loyalty. And if we single out China, one of the most progressively growing mobile markets, entire platforms have evolved to perform the majority of these functions, often times via a single app. 

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.