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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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.