Building a Mobile Strategy from the Ground Up
By Derek White President, Interactive & Media Networks, LodgeNet Interactive Corporation | January 27, 2013
It may not seem readily apparent when a guest walks into a luxury or economy hotel just yet – two vastly different lodging options, whose guests have varied mobile needs – but a profound change is underway in how hoteliers of both groups implement an effective mobile strategy. Instead of viewing mobile as an overhyped booking tool or add-on, a new organizational attitude towards mobile is gaining traction. It's a more logical, rational, "ground-up" approach that integrates the mobile experience throughout each and every guest interaction with the hotel brand.
That includes offsite interactions as much as on-property. It also involves a combination of "mobile 1.0" and "mobile 2.0." The 1.0 era represented remote reservations and research, more common when smartphones were just gaining market share and their potential had not yet been fully realized. Today we have "mobile 2.0," an era in which mobile devices are owned by millions with many (68% in one survey) actually reporting a need to sleep with them within arm's length. Simply put, mobile 2.0 has turned hotel research into hotel action.
Embracing Mobile 2.0
That includes check-in, check-out, remote room service orders placed through guests' mobile devices and delivered anywhere on the hotel grounds, requests for room amenities such as extra towels or pillows, local services for daily excursions and getaway packages and the ability to control everything in-room through the mobile app. Phew! Included in "mobile 2.0" is also a hotel's commitment to, and a guest's desire for, an app that employs a combination of universal hotel functionality as well as hotel-specific branding. Guests want this access throughout their stay, and even after they've left the building.
Why? Because the reality is, a guest's stay doesn't begin when they walk up to the front desk; it begins days, weeks or months earlier, when the trip planning process begins. Not only that, the individual's hotel connection extends beyond their trip as well. New regional travel experiences will present themselves, (making the hotel a prime location to re-book), new guest services will be promoted and guests who had a pleasurable experience might recommend the hotel to friends and family for future trips. A departing guest really is a hotel's most valuable customer – especially if the hotel maintains a genuine post-stay dialogue. Today, and in the future, that dialogue must include mobile.
More than Mobile Billboards: Smart Devices and Guest Experiences
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