In today’s market hotel executives need to master a delicate balancing act, delivering great experiences to guests who have ever-increasing expectations for personalization but also a penchant for self-service tools across the hotel stay. Many hospitality organizations have turned toward mobile technologies, hoping to simultaneously offer guests the autonomy they prefer – and create opportunities to build brand loyalty and deliver exceptional experiences.
The key to being mobile-savvy is to truly embrace the technology to empower guests and staff. It is a proven platform to enhance the guest experience and increase hotel efficiency. To gain a state-of-the-industry assessment of hoteliers’ use and deployment of mobile technologies, Oracle commissioned a survey of hotel management professionals. Respondents were asked a series of questions to determine their stance on 13 measures of mobile maturity.
Sixteen percent of respondents fell into the ‘Mobile Laggards’ category, a group that has the least mobile maturity, citing weakness in their organizations’ readiness and experience in delivery. By comparison, 69 percent fell into the most popular quadrant, ‘Mobile Savvy,’ whose members expressed confidence in their mobile prowess and forward-thinking abilities.
To fully capitalize on mobile, hoteliers need to invest in WIFI infrastructure so guests have high-speed connectivity wherever they are on the property; this is now a necessity. It’s also important to focus on staff-facing apps in addition to guest-facing apps. If a hotel is not investing in these three pillars of mobile technology, they may still perceive themselves to be mobile savvy, but their mobile strategy is likely lacking.
Many hotel executives expressed fear that their organization would be disrupted by more mobile, agile, customer-centric competitors.
Disruption could come from a competing property that offers a great mobile experience on site. It could come from an OTA that offers a more compelling booking experience than what the hotel is able to offer. It could come from peer-to-peer hospitality companies that offer a very different lodging experience. Such scenarios illustrate why 50% of hoteliers are worried about disruption.
Hospitality organizations are grappling with a conflicting issue: On one hand, they need to support bookings through OTAs and meta-search companies (who offer compelling mobile apps) to expand their reach, and on the other hand they need to drive more direct bookings, increase engagement and improve margins.
Many industry professionals cite mobile technology as an opportunity to address this challenge. Offering shopping and booking through guest-facing mobile applications enables a more personalized experience and engenders loyalty. Ninety-one percent of hoteliers surveyed agreed with this conclusion.
The survey results show hoteliers have room for growth on multiple fronts: improving the capabilities of their guest-facing applications as well as those designed for staff. Twenty-three percent of hoteliers surveyed also see room for improvement in the ability for guests to plan custom itineraries using their hotel app. They also envision better promotion of hotel mobile applications. Twenty-three percent said room selection capability on staff-facing mobile apps needs improvement.
However, hoteliers’ opinions about the need for greater mobile investment were evenly divided: 50% believe more investment is a must; and 50% felt their organizations were keeping pace with the needed level of investment.
If you decide to utilize guest-facing applications, actively promote them. Don’t rely on customers’ curious nature to stumble upon your hotel apps. It’s imperative to raise awareness of the apps’ benefits and effectiveness. Offer exclusive perks and incentives to increase guest usage of mobile technology – and show guests what they are missing by not using it.
It’s also vital to continue investing in mobile technology to simplify and enhance guests’ encounters with your hotel – to create “zero-friction” experiences. There is an undeniable link among mobility, customer experience and loyalty. Ultimately, the goal is to let guests use mobile technology to access self-service or human hospitality as they wish.