Hoteliers' Mobile Strategy: Put Room Controls in the Palm of Your Hand and Offer More Personalization
It seems like just about anything these days can be done from your mobile device - whether it's a tablet or a cell phone. In order to keep up with this high-tech revolution and successfully capture their share of business, hotel brands need to have a specific mobile strategy that includes placing greater in-room controls and offering more personalized responses onto mobile devices.
"Hospitality companies have an exciting challenge to find new ways to offer guests the control, connectivity, and personalization they increasingly want when they're on the road," said Josh Weiss, vice president of brand and guest technology at Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
Hilton began addressing this challenge in 2017 when it beta tested its Connected Room concept. Through the Hilton Honors app, guests can use their mobile devices as the in-room remote to control their TV programming, lighting, and temperature, Weiss said. This concept has been deployed in 500 rooms across four hotels near Memphis, Tenn., and it will soon be expanded to thousands of additional rooms across five more Hilton brands in various locations.
The next phase of mobile innovations will be to expand custom offerings to each guest, such as room selection and special items that the traveler would want in his or her room, predicted Casi(cq) Johnson, chief operations and innovations officer with M3, a Gwinnett, Ga. cloud-based financial solution company for the hotel industry.
"Soon, the guest experience will become even more dictated by mobile tech, as hotels begin employing interest-based targeting to offer highly customized recommendations for guests - whether it be activities inside the hotel, shopping or nearby restaurants in the community that align with each guest's mobile phone," added Scott Watson, partner and executive vice president of sales/marketing at M3.
Some large resorts are already using mobile devices to track their VIPs, with the guest's permission, and offer on-the-spot services just for them, noted Chris Koeneman, senior vice president of strategic solutions at MOBI, an Indianapolis company which provides Cloud-based software that centralizes and automates management of mobile devices. For instance, if you know a guest is on the way to the pool, you can have someone meet that guest with towels, he said.
Being able to reach out to guests on their mobile device pre-arrival for high-end hotels, is very important as well. The idea of the email sent to your phone by a personal concierge should be a part of the hotel's mobile strategy, said attorney Cliff Risman, partner with Foley Gardere in Dallas. Risman represents hotel developers.
Services available on mobile devices can go even further. "What if the guest knew that Deena was the housekeeper who brought the extra shampoo that they asked for, and what if that information was on the guest's phone with the staff member's smiling face looking at them? This is what personalized guest service looks like in a cloud-based world," said Richard Bradbury, vice president of strategy and alliances at Quore, a Franklin, Tenn.-based provider of hotel management software.
And, as Pete Sena, founder and chief executive officer of Digital Surgeons, a New Haven, Conn.-based global innovation and experience design company, put it:
"The smart phone has become the remote control of our lives, and this device can be used to shape the experience for today's hotel guest."