Increase Your Hotel Revenue with Mobile Marketing
Hotels should leverage mobile technology to boost their profits and better connect with travelers.
The hospitality industry has always been about providing an experience. A hotel is designed to be a home away from home. This is why hotels spend so much time creating attractive spaces with functional perks. For most hotels, improvement is about adding upgrades to the facility. Hotel staffs are trained to be friendly and efficient as a means of securing customer loyalty.
While all these things are important, they are surprisingly limited in the evolving modern market. The fact is that there are only so many amenities hotels can add, and a friendly front desk staff can only go so far. While it is important to keep comfort, convenience and customer service at the foreground of everything, these are no longer the last hurdles in ultimate success. The hospitality industry has mastered many things, but there are still things left to learn, especially when it comes to the use of mobile technology.
Mobile technology has revolutionized the way people live and work. Over the last decade, cell phone usage has exploded. People no longer simply have a phone on the go, but they have mobile devices that can make calls, search the Internet and conduct emails. This increased connectivity has altered the way people think about and approach traveling. Even while this fact is nearly indisputable, many hotels are still lagging behind in leveraging this trend.
For hotels to get ahead, it is important to reevaluate their mobile tactics. In order to update any mobile practices, however, it is critical to know what travelers are really looking for in their pursuit of mobile hospitality. Fortunately, a recent study by MCD provides essential insights to the latest trends and wants of travelers in terms of mobile technology.
The need to cater to mobile technology starts before travelers ever leave home. According to the MCD study, 70 percent of travelers use a hotel’s website or mobile app to make a final decision about booking a room. This is well over half of all travelers, which means that websites or apps that are not appealing can actually be a significant deterrent to attracting visitors.
In the past, hotels felt satisfied by merely having an online presence. That is no longer enough, however. To start, searching preferences have increasingly shifted from desktops and laptops to more portable technologies like tablets or smartphones. The up-and-coming generations are more likely to use mobile products according to GlobalWebIndex. This is relevant because websites function differently on mobile devices. A website may look excellent on a desktop, but it may be almost unusable on a mobile device. If this is the case, hotels could be missing out on an important demographic, all because their website does not perform well on the necessary platforms.
In any case, hotels need to develop a quality website and a functional mobile app to make the best impression possible on potential customers. Without a strong mobile presence for booking opportunities, none of the hotel’s efforts in comfort and customer service will make much difference at all.
When it comes to mobile connections, first impression are good but not enough to truly excel. While more hotels are getting better at facilitating online booking, surprisingly few have further developed their mobile connections for visitors after a reservation is booked. This is increasingly problematic as more people rely on their mobile devices not just before but while they travel.
In the study by MCD, 74 percent of travelers expressed a desire for more connection with their hotel during their visit. That is almost three-quarters of everyone who travels, which is a huge demographic. After all, just think about all the things travelers now do on their smartphones and tablets. Up to 83 percent of family travelers use digital maps while they travel. Other travelers will research movie times, restaurant menus, museum hours and more. When so much can be done on a smartphone, travelers are becoming dissatisfied with how limited hotels actually are. A hotel that can provide such a service will not just be well reviewed but it will be definitively ahead of most other hotels on the market.
One reason many hotels have not continued to develop mobile connections in this way is because it is not as easy as it sounds. However, to get started, there are some interesting ways to go. Hotels could develop mobile technology that allows travelers to:
- Pay their hotel bills
- Order room service
- Purchase extra amenities
- Book transportation
- Receive concierge tips
- Check-in remotely
- Request late check-out
These features vary in terms of how hard they would be to implement, but large numbers of travelers expressed interest in ongoing connective features like these. While a hotel may not be able to implement all such features right away, starting with one or two would be a good way to start reaching travelers more effectively in the coming years.
One of the biggest advantages of utilizing mobile technology to reach travelers is that hotels can now build customized experiences for every traveler. Hotels often offer a one-size-fits-all approach with tiered packages to serve travelers on a number of levels. However, with mobile technology, it is possible to respond to unique needs in a timely and efficient fashion.
This level of personalization is desired by 80 percent of all travelers. People want their hotel stays to be customized, and they do not want to have to work hard to make that happen. With well implemented mobile applications, it could be easier than ever to make that possible.
Just consider some of the preferences that can be set by travelers:
- Bed and pillow types
- Newspaper delivery
- Floor preference
- Wake-up calls
- Dietary needs
- Room size
- Elevator access
- Nonsmoking rooms
- Minibar availability
- Pet friendly spaces
- Billing preferences
Customers are willing to share personal information with hotels in exchange for having their needs met. In fact, hotels that offer such personalization are more likely to develop relationships with loyal customers. Not only does this increase customer satisfaction, but it can also streamline hotel operations. If this information is digitized, it is more readily accessible to the staff members who need to know it. This means there are fewer opportunities for the chain of communication to break down, and it is easier to know exactly what the customer wants, which can save time and frustration for both the staff and the travelers.
Getting Down to Business
While there are many tactics that can appeal to a wide base of travelers, there are certain segments of the population that deserve a little extra attention. The MCD study looks at three different types of travelers. These groups are family travelers, leisure travelers and business travelers. While all three types are valuable and worth noting, many hotels crave business travelers. After all, these travelers provide lucrative, consistent income. Family and leisure travel tends to ebb and flow, depending on the time of year or the current economic climate. Business travelers, on the other hand, are often less affected by such changes.
These millennial travelers, however, can be much harder to woo due to their very specific needs. Business travelers are on the road more often, which means they tend to develop more loyalty to certain brands and are more likely to return to the same hotel. Plus, since these travelers are working, they often have more mobile connection needs than other travelers. More than any other group, business travelers want the ability to customize their experience and streamline their stay.
Therefore, implementation of the strategies in this article is more likely to have an impact on these travelers, making such strides even more profitable in the long run.
While much of the MCD study is focused on improving the connection between the hotel and travelers during their stay, it is worth noting that mobile technology also has a wide range of marketing implications. There have been a number of studies conducted that show the positive impact of digital marketing. This type of marketing can include a wide range of things, including social media, blogging, pay-per-click advertising and more. These tactics vary in terms of results and costs, but the ultimate message is clear. Hotels need to shift their thinking and start leveraging the digital realm. From online booking to advanced marketing campaigns, digital technology can give hotels the leverage they need to thrive in coming years.
The MCD study used responses from 1,000 American travelers, but the results speak firmly of the growing shift in traveling preferences. Every hotel wants to give travelers the best experience possible. This goal has not changed, but its implications have certainly evolved. Customers want more than a warm bed at night. They want to travel the same way they live life. Therefore, hotels would be smart to acknowledge this trend and start catering to customers with mobile technologies.