One word. Mobile!
Smartphone adoption continues to rise with an estimated 2 billion consumers worldwide and connectivity of our lives and smartphones have become ever more entwined. Today we want to do everything on the go; we’ve become dependent on our smartphones as tools to accomplish most tasks throughout our daily lives, and especially during travel – 76% of all travellers agree that their smartphones are very important, if not critical. So, it’s not overly surprising then to hear that mobile technology has become critical to attracting and retaining hotel guests. According to Hospitality Technology’s 2016 Lodging Technology Study, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology this year with mobile solutions dominating the list of capital investments ranging from mobile keys, to mobile payments and location-based technology.
Mobile technology enables hoteliers to empower employees, manage day-to-day operations more effectively; it helps meet escalating guest expectations and serve guests better by providing greater immediacy and personal engagement; mobile also has the ability to improve the bottom line and give you that competitive edge over your rivals.
Mobile or “mobility” is the biggest hotel technology trend of 2016 and we are going to run through some of the key mobile solutions, explaining not only what they mean, but also how they impact your hotel.
Guest Facing Automation: Self-service is the currency of our time; consumers are all too familiar with the concept as it is readily utilized in other industries such as banking, retail, entertainment, daily commuter travel etc. According to the 2016 Cognizant Travel Survey, travellers want greater automation in hotels; 58% want to use their mobile device to receive bills, 54% check-in, 57% checkout, 51% pay for hotel services and 50% to open their hotel room door. Nowadays, many guests manage most aspects of their lives and travel from their tablets and smartphones and as a result expect such self-service capabilities when it comes to their hotel stay, from checking in and out, gaining access to their room, billing etc.
With the use of mobile and Cloud, self service not only allows for an efficient speedy self-check-in and out process but it also alleviates pressure on front desk staff during busy periods, enables easier data access for customer profiling and improved revenues through customized up selling, whether that’s early check-in, upgrades or the addition of ancillary services.
Personalization: Something that we have spoken about on more than one occasion on our blog is how mobile and Cloud combine to make the perfect relationship bringing richer and more enjoyable experiences suited to a traveller’s individual preferences i.e. we’re talking about greater personalization. Their partnership aids flawless customer service by providing hoteliers the ability to easily keep track of and consolidate guests stay history and personalized preferences while also providing a system that can satisfy each customer’s needs by delivering real time personalized experiences.
As a result of such high customized service interactions, guests feel unique and treated as an individual, improving overall satisfaction and generating increased customer loyalty – while at the same time contributing to higher occupancy rates, and an improved bottom line.
Communication: Everything is about immediacy these days and everything is practically done instantaneously and therefore, as it is deemed the quickest way, “chat” or instant messaging has become the preferred method of communication for most.
Astute businesses have started utilizing this technology to better communicate with their customers. Why? Well, because Chat is a versatile and an effective way to ‘chat’ to customers. It provides instant, one-on-one, real-time interaction and has the potential to not only transform customer service but also to deliver operational efficiencies.
For hoteliers, it means they can connect with travellers efficiently and organically through channels guests are already conversing and in a way that feels personal and not too invasive or pushy. With messaging and chat services the hotel stay is no longer confined to the walls of the hotel. It allows for a single staff member to interact simultaneously with multiple customers, not just one over the phone.
Messaging and chat services are rapidly becoming another way that mobile technology is transforming what is thought of as a good service experience and how it is delivered – and brands looking to stay ahead of the curve are turning to mobile messaging.
Hotel Operations: There’s no denying that the very nature of a hotel has always been very fast paced and dynamic, with many facets and departments running alongside and crossing over one another. And, mobile tech solutions fit right in bringing a lot of operational efficiencies to what can seem like a very complex and chaotic environment.
With a mobile PMS employees are no longer tied to their workplace or confined to the walls of the hotel and can control workflow whenever, wherever. Managers can view live performance, monitor operations, access key reports and statistics and measure staff performance allowing them to make key business decision, anytime anywhere. Housekeeping staff can see which rooms are occupied, need attention, and respond to guest requests all through software on a mobile device at the palm of their hands – allowing for more efficient turnover of rooms and check-in service.
A mobile PMS means staff are free to move around the hotel, servicing guests directly resulting in more face-time and enhancing their overall guest experience
There is no doubt that mobile technology has made significant strides in the past five years; it is ubiquitous in almost everything we do, and for many guests technology is fast becoming part and parcel of their DNA. Mobile technology has become a key factor for business growth and success – and the future for hoteliers will be defined by how well they leverage mobile technology to enable greater efficiencies and customer engagement.
Brands that provide a consistently exceptional hotel stay via technology “are not only able to remain relevant, they can also strengthen guest loyalty, motivate return visits, increase average daily rate, and drive incremental hotel revenue.” Cornell Hospitality report.