The world is moving toward a mobile-first paradigm. Although in existence since the 1990s, the mobile device market took off after Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. Just seven years later, there were 1.75 billion smartphones in circulation. According to Pew Research, more than 16 million smartphone owners in the U.S. have no other form of high-speed Internet access at home – and nearly half of Americans “couldn’t live without” their smartphones. And that extends to travel: A Hotels.com Mobile Travel Tracker global study of 9,200 travelers across 31 countries found that 76% of travelers named their mobile device their number one travel accessory, with twice as many people choosing to travel with it than with their loved ones!
As mobile usage in our day to day lives has become ubiquitous and is now not only the primary point for millions of travelers looking for inspiration and shop for deals on hotels and amenities, but they are reshaping hotel guest expectations. Guests want more and more control over their hotel experiences along with real time personalization. Gone are the days when offering Wi-Fi at a hotel was enough; travelers are booking hotels, finding travel information, and controlling every detail of their trips from their smartphones and tablets.
Guests now expect the same comforts when away from home and expect to see mobile technology integrated into their hotel experiences. Hotel guests increasingly see their mobile devices as the key to making their entire stay more convenient and want a mobile guest journey that offers a smooth experience during their stay. Mobile hotel check-in and booking are increasingly popular with travelers, as is the option to pay with your phone. Recent studies show that 73% of the guests want automated check-in via mobile phone, 73% want to be able to request a late checkout and 64% want to use the mobile phone as a room key.
However, with the rapid rise of the new mobile traveller many hotels have quickly found themselves left behind where their technology set-up is concerned. Many hotels still employ legacy systems that are tired, worn and well past their sell by date which are no match for the demands of the new mobile generation. They are no longer a viable technology solution in an ever-competitive environment.
Progressive hotels realize the need to engage and interact with their guests beyond the regular front desk and other face-to-face interactions. Mobile solutions present a major opportunity for hotels to personalize the customer experience enabling hotels to directly connect with guests pre-arrival, during the stay and post-departure. New cloud based mobile SaaS PMS solutions that integrate with existing hotel IT systems go beyond basic mobile booking services, to allow travelers to manage their journey and their own expectations; they enable mobile check-in, room selection and smartphone room key solutions easy to implement and seamless to operate; they have the potential to reduce operating costs, to improve guest engagement, provide the right service, to the right guest, at the right time and raise guest satisfaction.
Implementing mobile technology solutions to provide, a personalized, customized and relevant guest experience will be crucial in order to stay competitive in the future. “Hotel companies that can deliver effective mobile-centric personalization will become brands of choice for the guests of 2020.” Grant Thornton.