For a few years now, hospitality thought leaders have predicted that mobile technology will play a central role in how hospitality brands interact with their guests. They’ve championed mobile check-in as part of the inevitable transformation of the hotel lobby. They’ve pointed to mobile apps as the new frontier of travel booking. And they’ve indicated that more and more, guests are asking for the ability to communicate with hotels using their mobile devices wherever and whenever they want.
Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that hoteliers are starting to think of mobile as an essential part of the guest experience. Here, we cover why 2017 is being considered the year of guest messaging within the hospitality industry.
Mobile is the new normal
Mobile technology has made us accessible 24/7 in all aspects of our lives, be it family, business, or — you guessed it — travel. As Daniele Beccari states in Tnooz, “Travelers are, by nature, on the move, so what better place to reach them than the devices in their pockets?” Mobile isn’t just a convenient way for hotels to connect with guests; it’s also the best method for travelers to get the information they need about their destination, even when they’re on the go.
But hotel messaging is about more than just opening a dialogue with guests. Using it, hotels can also push relevant promotional offers to guests to encourage them to spend more while they’re on the property. A study by Pew Research found that 97 percent of smartphone users across all ages use text messaging at least once per week. On top that that, Mobile Marketing Online revealed text messages have an open rate of 98 percent.
Growth of the mobile web
According to Skift, when smartphones were still new, apps were seen as a game-changer, so much so that developers churned them out by the millions. But in the ensuing years, this has no longer necessarily been the case. People today in general are less likely to download apps, and the average traveler only keeps about two to three travel apps on his or her device. And with the hospitality industry’s biggest players — such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Airbnb — creating apps of their own, it’s increasingly difficult for independent hotels to get their brand apps noticed.
As revealed by Marketing Land, the mobile web has audiences that are at least two times larger than those of mobile apps. This is good news for hoteliers — they can use it make their websites or web apps accessible to all their guests via mobile. For both parties, it’s less effort for more reward.
Rising labor costs
In Skift’s hospitality forecast for 2017, CBRE predicted that rising labor costs and roadblocks to increasing room rates will take a toll on hotels. Mobile technology can help in this area, too, by streamlining operations and reducing workloads for staff. By enabling hotel messaging, for example, staff members no longer need to manually direct guest requests to the appropriate individual; a central inbox can automatically do it instead. As a result, this allows hoteliers to schedule staff more efficiently, reduce the need for staff to perform mundane tasks, and cut down on costs.
Airbnb has been in the news a lot recently due to its efforts to woo business travelers, as well as its unveiling of Airbnb Trips, in which the company established itself as a coordinator of tours and experiences between travelers and locals. There are even rumors, stated by Fortune Magazine that it’s toying with the idea of getting into flight bookings. While Skift reports have shown that Airbnb hasn’t yet made a significant impact on hotel market share — at least outside of top markets — that doesn’t mean it won’t in the future, or that its impact is drastically underestimated.
Besides its growth in the hospitality industry, Airbnb is significant because it has made the smartphone central to the travel experience. Through its platform, travelers can browse listings, book rooms, make payments, and communicate with hosts whether they’re at home or on the road. If there is one lesson hoteliers should take away from Airbnb’s performance, it is that mobile technology must be a core component of the guest experience. It’s the easiest way they can offer their guests convenience and simplicity in the modern age.