When the first mobile phones were carried by business people and eager technology adopters in the late 1980s, no one could have envisaged the success they would go on to achieve.They have gone from bricks that required a briefcase to haul them around to veritable computers in our pockets, allowing us to carry out a plethora of tasks wherever we are in the world. They have not only changed our everyday lives, but also altered the playing field for most industry sectors – and hospitality is no different.
Today, hotels operate in a completely different way than they did even just a decade ago, all thanks to smartphones and tablets utilised by both them and their customers.There are numerous opportunities for hotel owners and marketers, but the challenge is for them to recognise them, grasp them and respond to would-be guests through innovation and improved service. Mobile penetration There are now more than 7.6 billion mobile connections and the global subscriber base is expected to reach 5.6 billion by the end of the decade. In 2016, 62.9 per cent of the global population used a mobile phone and it has been predicted that this will reach 64.5 per cent in 2017.Clearly, mobile technology together with the internet has been completely game-changing in terms of customer service, communications and marketing. But what are the specific ways in which it has altered things for hotels and hospitality? Let’s take a look at some of the revolutionary developments and how they can be utilised by anyone with accommodation of any size.Mobile websites and apps Websites are no longer confined simply to desktop PCs.
Instead, web users can access them on the go, whether that’s on their daily commute or as they catch up with the soaps at the end of a busy day.For hotel marketers, it’s great because it allows them to advertise their properties to a much wider audience. Would-be guests can look at pictures, read content posted online, check out reviews and – most importantly – make a reservation at the touch of a button. However, in order to ensure users get a seamless experience, hotels need to ensure they have responsive websites that are specifically designed to work for mobile and that integrate perfectly with booking engines. If they don’t, people won’t leave it until they can get to their PC back home – they’ll go to the competition.
Apps are also a good way to communicate with guests and ensure they have all the information they need at their fingertips. But, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, hotels need to consider whether their development and maintenance is worth the effort in terms of extra bookings. Content management systemsIt isn’t just for end users that mobile technology has offered benefits. Hotels too have reaped the rewards, particularly when it comes to mobile content management systems. These allow staff to access their reservations, room information and much more while on the move, meaning they don’t need to get back to their desks in order to make changes that might be vital for would-be guests. It also means any issues can be spotted quickly and responded to almost immediately, improving service and negating the need to phone customers to inform them of any problems.
Social media If there’s one thing that has had a huge impact on the way hotels communicate with their customers, it’s social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest mean properties can be advertised by word of mouth, but they also allow their owners to talk to would-be guests and respond to their questions in real-time.This can mean the difference between someone making a booking and moving on to a different form of accommodation. What’s more, social media posts can distribute special offers that help to mitigate the effects of quiet periods by creating a sense of urgency. Reviews Linked with social media but worth a separate category on their own are online peer reviews. These are everywhere in the 21st century and can be easily accessed by someone thinking of staying at a property but keen to check out the opinions of previous guests first. It does mean that hotels can benefit from glowing praise – but they can also be shot in the foot by bad reviews, too. This revolution means marketers need to adopt a really proactive strategy in terms of managing comments being made about them and responding to negative ones by offering to rectify the situation.
Self-service Although this is a relatively new development, it is becoming increasingly significant for hotels and their guests. People no longer want to wait around to check in, access room service or carry out other tasks while they’re away on holiday or business – they want instant gratification.Thanks to their mobile phones, they can use smart devices to check in and out, order meals, make spa appointments, open the door of their room, pay their bill and much more, without even having to speak to a member of staff.It’s great for customer service, but hotel workers will no doubt have something to say about automation and the effects on them going forward. Internet of things and tech-based room management Again, this is quite a new development, but mobile technology has evolved to the point where it can be linked up with other devices that are already in hotels rooms.
For example, online minibars can log when drinks are out of stock and automatically reorder them for someone’s room, while heating and air conditioning can be operated using Hotel Mobile Apps Development that are downloaded to people’s phones so they can tailor the environment to their preferences.It’s predicted that this area is likely to get even more futuristic in the not-too-distant future, with robot concierges highlighted as the next big thing at various technology conferences. Aloft and Hilton have already been pioneering these in the hope that they might catch on and make things even more convenient for their guests.As you can see, mobile technology has completely changed the hospitality industry, in many ways for the better. We can only dream of what developments are ahead and could be commonplace in the next ten years.