I used to book hotel and airfare via a live travel agent…remember those? Next, the internet via my desktop was the preferred choice. Now, more and more, I book my arrangements via my smart-phone using any number of travel apps (Kayak, HipMunk, Hotel Chain App). I apparently am not alone. eMarketer reports that bookings by smart phone and/or tablets increased 100% in 2013…and this number is accelerating quickly! Why is this? Personally, its because booking via my smart-phone is so darned convenient! I have it with me all the time, it is always connected via WiFi or via cellular and the booking sites have optimized the experience so that they make it supremely easy, accurate and effective. Just the other day, I was in line at the grocery store when I realized I hadn’t yet booked a hotel for my business trip in two days. Out comes my smart-phone…in moments, I had a listing of available Chicago hotels, was able to filter by rate and even read a review or two on a few hotels before making my choice and completing my booking. BOOM! Why would I wait until I get back to my desktop when I have all I need via my phone? This becomes even more convenient when I’m actually on my business trip and schedule changes occur.
This begs the question…what is next for smart-phones when it comes to travel convenience? We’ve all heard that soon, hotel door locks will allow your smart-phone to act as your room key. When RFID or NFC become baked into smart-phones, this is a no-brainer. What about ordering any/all services via the travelers mobile device? This can only occur efficiently when the apps for the smart-phones are integrated into the systems that run the hotels…just like the airline apps. What about seeing who from your social/business network (Facebook, LinkedIn) are nearby or attending the same conference and allowing you to communicate with them (if you want)? This will be really cool…talk about networking!
The point? The time is now (actually, yesterday) to dive into the quickly deepening pool of guest mobility. Travelers are choosing to turn to their smart-phones and tablets for servicing options, while turning away from call centers and laptops with increasing acceleration. The concern of “I don’t want a smart-phone to replace my customer service staff” is not relevant when the statistics show that your customers demand the choice of service. The time is now…
What do you think the future holds for service options via mobile devices? I would love to hear your thoughts and welcome your comments below.