“A lot can happen in 40 years, but when it comes to technology, 40-years is like going back to the days of Moses or the Roman Empire.” Richard Goodwin… and it’s true. While the mobile phone has been around since the 70’s, it wasn’t really until the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 that the mobile space rapidly changed forever. Apple’s iPhone was responsible for popularising applications with millions of consumers, helped make touchscreen interfaces the norm, and broke new ground for overall design and finish. From here on out innovation and mobile device development began progressing faster than ever before. A study from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that globally, 75% of mobile users come from the smartphones category and more than two-thirds of American adults now own a smartphone. While it has been said that telephones took nearly 80 years to reach half of U.S. households, Smartphones did it in less than 10 – Mobile technology has become part and parcel of daily life for most.
So what does all this mean? In the past few years, mobile technology has shaken up many industries including travel and hospitality unlike any other innovation in quite some time. As mobile technology has become firmly embedded into our everyday and ubiquitous in everything we do, guests are now a more self-sufficient bunch and more and more guests want control over their hotel experiences along with real time personalization. Gone are the days when offering Wi-Fi at a hotel was enough; travellers are booking hotels, finding travel information, and controlling every detail of their trips from their smartphones and tablets. As a result, guests now expect the same comforts and conveniences when away from home and expect to see mobile technology integrated into their hotel experiences. “Travellers are setting standards across the globe when it comes to leveraging the latest mobile services. Not only do travellers have the highest rates of smartphone adoption, they’re also doing more with their devices like booking, payments and check-ins…Their expectations for intelligent, personal experiences via mobile are high and continue to rise. Travellers are setting the bar for mobile services and will drive new innovations in the travel industry and beyond”, Clinton Anderson, Senior VP Traveller Experience Sabre Travel Network.
But with the dawn of the new mobile traveller many hotels have found quickly themselves left behind and in the dark ages where their technology set-up is concerned. Legacy systems, that are tired, worn and well past their sell by date are no match for the demands of the new mobile generation. They are no longer a viable technology solution in an ever-competitive environment.
However, while the consumer is mobile savvy, business are beginning to integrate mobile solutions into their business practices allowing for better customer service, and adding a competitive advantage. The hospitality industry is particularly well positioned to use mobile technology to enhance the guest experience, promote onsite and local services, increase revenues and improve operational efficiency.
Mobile technology allows hoteliers to provide guests with a certain degree of control over their stay such as self-serve check-in, checkout, room access and atmosphere controls, such as lighting and heating, and some offer home away from home entertainment options. More importantly mobile technology enables hoteliers to transform the way they connect and engage with hotel guests by helping then to better managing the guest experience and relationship. It allows management to proactively strategize in order to create fluid two-way communication with guests for improved hospitality brand perception. With mobile technology hoteliers can automatically collate pertinent guest information that can then be used to personalise the guest experience – such as offering discounts to favourite services or hotel restaurants, room upsell options, alternative check-in and out times etc. This personalised level of service resonates with guests, helping hotels to build a connection with the guests leading to long-term loyalty.
And it’s not just all about the guest. Cloud and mobile technologies have the added advantage of substantially cutting operational costs, they are reliable and secure, and are flexible, offering remote access, anytime, anywhere. 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.
There is no doubt in saying that investing in mobile technology can substantially boost the customer experience, increase revenues and productivity, cut costs while providing your hotel with a competitive advantage. Organisations that aren’t actively making use of newer mobile technology will find themselves increasingly struggling to compete as their competitors capitalise on the advantages that the technology offers.