Here’s a peek at the hotel guest experience in the near future. With mobile phones becoming an increasingly important marketing and CRM channel, improving technology and awareness will soon allow hotel marketers to enhance the hotel guest interaction, in a very similar way to what’s described below…
Hotel Booking and Research
Sam wants to book a hotel for an overnight stay in a nearby city in a weeks time.
He visits a website to look for hotels to see what’s available.
He sees a hotel he likes and book a room online.
As part of the booking procedure Sam is asked to enter his email address and his mobile phone number.
He’s instantly sent both an email and an SMS message confirming his booking.
The SMS message is addressed to Sam personally and contains his booking reference and the dates of his stay.
Both the email and SMS message contain a link to a specially built hotel website that can be browsed and navigated upon using any mobile phone.
This mobile website can detect what type of mobile phone is accessing it and can display the relevant content in the right screen size, so that it’s easily navigated regardless of whether Sam has a Blackberry, Nokia, Iphone, Sony Erickson, Motorola, Samsung or any other type of mobile phone.
The mobile site contains the same type of content contained on the hotels traditional website, but the content has been optimised to be viewed and displayed on a mobile phone.
The information on the site is displayed in small packets. Sam doesn’t spend hours browsing the internet on his phone, as he prefers to do that on the bigger screen size on his laptop, so instead wants his information presented to him in a straightforward format that’s easy to find and easy to read.
On his mobile phone, Sam has a range of options that he can choose to use. He can look at a range of 30 second videos highlighting the different facilities of the hotel, he can look at the various F&B venues and what he’s particularly interested in, he can download mobile vouchers that will give him 20% off of a bill of any F&B location that he likes the look of.
Sam is interested in a particular F&B location and he can choose from a couple of options.
- Check out the menu
- He’s a sports fan so he can see what games they’re showing during the dates of his stay.
- He can book a table (including one next to the TV so he’s got a great view of the game)
- He can even leave a message on the site, letting other people know that he’s going to be there and what team he supports, if other fans are showing up too.
- If he wants to eat, he can even pre-order his preferences on the menu.
- He can also recommend this location to some friends to see what they think of the place.
He decides to recommend the bar to a friend to see what they think of it and he’s instantly taken to his list of contacts in his mobile phone book. He selects the friend he wants to send the details of the store too and seconds later, Sam’s friend receives this invite into his inbox, and he gives Sam the thumbs up.
Following Sam’s friend saying he thinks that the bar looks pretty good, Sam clicks a link to request a confirmation of his table booking to be sent to his phone via either SMS, Email or picture message. Now he’s got the confirmation and contact details stored on his phone.
He’s also invited to download the mobile voucher to his phone that gives him 20% off. All he has to do is show the voucher on his phone when he’s presented with his bill and he automatically receives the 20% off.
He’s also asked if he’d like to receive a reminder SMS message of these offers during his stay, but he’s not that keen, so ticks the box titled “No Thanks”.
The day before Sam is due to arrive, he receives a follow up video message from the hotel.
“Hi Sam, we hope you’re excited about your stay with us. Please click the link shown at the end of this clip to view a list of places to visit that we think will help you to enjoy your stay.”
Sam clicks the link and is taken to another mobile website that is fully branded by the hotel.
This mobile website contains details on places that could be of interest during Sam’s stay and information that he could find important.
Recommended shopping malls, local beauty spots, ‘handy hints’ such as the average prices for taxi rides and meals, places to take children, local music events etc.
The Arrival and Stay
A few days later, Sam lands at the airport, he shows his taxi driver the location and map of the hotel that he’d previously requested to be sent to his phone. He also checks the rate for his cab ride against the recommended price he should be paying in his handy hints section on the hotel mobile website, to make sure he’s not being taken advantage of.
Upon check in at the hotel, Sam’s asked to swipe his phone over a reader at the front of desk, the receptionist smiles and informs Sam, that during his stay, he won’t be issued a key card, but instead he can swipe his phone over a sensor next to the door of his room to get in.
Sam’s also informed that if he’s interested, he can turn on the Bluetooth settings on his phone and he’ll be sent a video of potential places of interest that he could enjoy during his stay.
Sam’s already found his places of interest, so doesn’t turn on his Bluetooth settings, but he’s glad that he’s got that option should he want it.
When Sam gets to his room, he sees there’s a flyer containing details of some discount offers at the Spa in the hotel. Using his cameraphone, Sam takes a picture of a QR code, a 2d barcode about an inch high and wide, that’s shown next to the ad on the flyer, and seconds later Sam receives a call from the Spa, thanking him for his interest and asking if there’s a time he’d like to book his relaxing massage.
Later that evening, after his massage and the visit to the bar to watch his team win for a change, Sam decides he’d like to head out for some more fun before his busy day tomorrow.
He’s not sure of where to head to next, so pulls out his phone and checks his SMS inbox, where he’s saved the message with the link to the hotel mobile website.
He visits the mobile website again and heads to the section that lists local places of interest. The mobile website asks Sam “Would like to search for places of interest in your immediate area?”
Sam clicks ACCEPT to turn on his Location Based settings. The site instantly refreshes and he’s shown a page listing of a number of different points of interest within a 10 mile radius of where he is.
Bars and restaurants are at the top of this listing, as the site remembers that these were of particular interest to Sam the last time he visited the site.
To his surprise and delight Sam’s also asked if he’d like to check to see if any of his friends stored on his Google contact list are in the nearby vicinity? Sam clicks yes and seconds later their names appear along with arrows hovering above their location in the map of his surrounding area.
Sam sees an old friend he didn’t know would be in the area, and clicks on their name to send them an instant message letting them know that he’s just around the corner and that they should come over and join him.
Sam’s friend heads over to join him and decide where to head to next.
They see in the bar, that there’s an invitation to SMS their names to 6625 if they’d like to receive VIP entry at the hotel nightclub and be able to jump to the front of the queue.
They’re not sure if they’ll like the music at the club, but they can hear it by taking a picture of another QR code that’s on the flyer for the nightclub.
Sam takes a picture of the QR code and this triggers an SMS message sent to his phone, that when he clicks the link, starts playing a 30 second clip of a selection of some of the music the club will be playing that evening.
Sam and his friend like what they hear, so they take advantage of this offer and receive their Queue jump tickets as SMS messages to their phone.
They head to the nightclub and show their messages to the door staff who scan the screens of their phone to allow them entry.
Inside the club, the DJ’s playing a song that Sam loves, but doesn’t know who’s it by.
To find out, he calls a songfinder number on his phone and holds it up to a speaker for 5 seconds. At the end of the 5 seconds the call ends and Sam’s instantly sent a link that tells him the name of the song and who’s it by and that he can click on the link at the bottom of the message that’ll take him to the page on the Amazon.com mobile site where he can buy it over his phone.
Check Out and Post-Stay
The next morning Sam wakes up and gets ready to check out of the hotel.
He sees there’s a form on his bill asking him to provide some feedback. This form is different though, as he’s asked to SMS his thoughts and feedback into a Shortcode, 6626 and this feedback, after being carefully moderated for inappropriate language, will appear on the hotel’s blog.
An hour before Sam’s flight, he receive a final SMS message from the hotel.
“Sam, we sincerely hope you enjoyed your stay. Please use this code XDF$352 to get 25% off of your bill or a free upgrade should you wish to visit us again. We hope you have a safe trip and we look forward to seeing you again soon.”
Sam can’t wait for his next trip!
Note: While the above is merely an illustration of the possible guest interaction and mobile experience, marketers will realize that the possibilities of the technology previewed above are virtually limitless. What’s even more exciting, though, is the fact that the building blocks to such solutions are already available…all you need to do is use them to build the optimal solution to fit your needs.
About the author: Matt is a contributing author at www.HoteleMarketer.com. Currently based in Dubai, he is a Mobile Tech Enthusiast and Expert, with over 10 years of experience providing end-to-end and creative mobile solutions. Matt’s company, PureMobile, are a mobile solution provider that use SMS, the mobile internet and much much more to help brands achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. Find out more at www.puremobileonline.com
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Inspiring and thought provoking. Thanks for opening my mind to many future possibilities. Question: How do developers of properties become more educated on these insights into the future way of doing business?
Hi Eric – I think the key is to ensure key decision makers are aware of the potential and invest enough time and money into developing the digital marketing role (be it through dedicated job positions or investing in the right partners / tools)
I think that this is a very thoughtful article. However it is crucial to consider that most of the technology mentioned above is expensive and the percentage of the target market is very less due to which its a risky process to continue with.
Hi Utsav – it’s true that at the moment costs are quite high for this sort of tech implementation. However costs ought to go down as scale and adoption increases.
Hi Utsav – Thanks for your comment. So as you rightly say, some of these services mentioned, such as the integration of NFC systems so that consumers can swipe their phones across their keycard reader to gain entry to their room, are currently priced at a premium and are only applicable to a small percentage of handsets outside of the Far East. However, the costs for nearly all of other elements mentioned, such as the browsing of the internet on a mobile phone, the sending of an SMS to request information and tickets to be sent back to your handset, the ability to take a picture of a QR code and then have content and information delivered to your phone etc, have significantly reduced in the past 5 years, ironically as the audience who do use these functions on their phones have increased.
In regards to the volume of consumers who can participate in the services described. As mentioned, whereas it’s true that only a small percentage of consumers would be able to use their phones to swipe to get entry into the room, in most other regions, consumers can browse the internet on their mobile phone, send SMS messages, call a number to find out a song title (If you’re in the UK, call 2580 and hold up your phone to any song to find out what the song’s called and who’s it by, which is a very cool service provided by a company called Shazam). QR code readers are installed on most of the latest Nokia phones and most manufacturers are installing them on all their latest handset releases.
The point I’m trying to make is that consumers are starting to wake up to what they can do on their phone and a range of brands have been launching promotions, campaigns and services that utilise these opportunities to reach and enhance their brand experience with their consumer.
If you’re still not convinced, Marriott international inc recently announced they’d generated $1.25m in gross hotel bookings in the first 100 days of launch since the chain announced direct mobile web bookings.
Hi there. Thank you for the reply. The type of consumers mentioned in this article, are they traveling with a business purpose, leisure purpose? The point I am trying to highlight is, that different guests tend to spend time depending on the purpose of their visit in a hotel. For example guests staying in a hotel for a business meeting would be less interested in knowing the different places to visit, or night clubs etc. Whereas a guest who has come on a holiday would spend more time browsing a hotel’s website, hence using its different amenities. Therefore it is advantageous for the hotels to consider their target market and then implement the following technologies.
Its good to know that the sales of Marriott had increased due to the mobile advertisement channel, but it still it should be considered that not all the hotels would opt for a mobile based advertisement. For example in countries like Switzerland people are still using Fidelio to book rooms, whereas hotels in other countries have advanced to much better software. So the big question is, whether all the guests are ready to use the mobile booking facility or is it us who are trying to force the guests to become more tech friendly and cut off the relation b/w the guest and the staff.
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If anyone is interested we have the licence for a product called J Mango.JMango is a rapid mobile application development and delivery platform that improves mobile internet transactions by executing multi-step tasks usually confined to the internet through a series of text based interfaces. Information is refreshed when the application is selected and then presented in a way that users can quickly navigate using only a few keystrokes. The users selections are stored on their phone and JMango only connects to the internet when the information is complete making for a much improved user experience.It works across all mobiles and balckberrys.
Once downloaded to a mobile phone JMango also provides a powerful branded channel as unlike general mobile internet applications by sending an sms to the phone the application can be ‘woken up’ for outbound marketing such as events and special offers.
Ease of use – text based interface and speed of navigation/execution
Users can be engaged by pushing marketing information to them to increase sales (evidence from similar applications show 10% increase)
Ease of development and deployment – can be bolted on to clients existing back end systems
Speed and cost for application development – applications can be developed by us or ‘in house’ and deployed in a matter of weeks
Low usage costs
This is ideal for ticketing and booking solutions ( we have already used QR for ticketing for events in Australia) as well as the travel sector. We are developing a ‘travel buddy’ solution which effectively delivers booking information, itinerary, google map, local information (restaurants theatre) much as described in Matt’s article, and also has applications for post visit eg for customer research, discount vouchers etc.
Mobile interaction like this is already happening with all of the iPhone apps, and I think it would be very beneficial for hotels to pick up on this trend and take advantage. Today’s mobile world is all about convenience and information at your fingertips, especially when traveling! It would save a lot of travel headaches if you could book and organize everything and get reminders through your phone!
Very interesting article I must say. The possibilities seem endless in this domain. In 2007 I participated in Annual Innovation Challenge where we had to solve a similar problem for Hilton Hotels and our team recommended exactly the solution that you mentioned in the article. Using mobile based application for online checkin, reservations and mobile based entry to rooms.
I am not surprised by the numbers from Marriott as I think these kind of services are particularly useful for VIP and high revenue generating customers of hotels.
What are your thoughts on trends in guest service systems that hotels use (such as http://www.compcierge.com/)?
This is a great illustration of a new kind of guest interaction and the use of technology.As a hospitality provider this is the first step to welcoming and retaining new guest. In this down market it is a blessing to have such acquisition.Can someone imagine with this new networking ,almost every single person with a modern cell phone will welcom this new approch, minimize the waiting time at the front desk.Thank you for sharing this experience .
Hospitality products and its evolving services are generally intended to provide additional comfort and convenience. Therefore, any new or improvised product, service and or technology that can enhance the quality of items on offer must be welcomed and encouraged. Introducing such items are always expensive in the beginning. It is hightime that large chain-hotel operators and independent hotel operators form unions for their commong agenda/goals through which they can approach product and service providers who have global reach for new/improvised items at reasonable prices that all consumers and intermediaries can benefit. Once technology is known or introduced, one can take the lead, but cannot sustain the supremacy since others will shortly follow with improvised version(s). It is cost and complexity that induce many hoteliers to shy away from adopting some useful technologies. Therefore consumer cartels are also important to challenge monopoly.
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Great article! The possibilities seeems endless in mobile marketing and hotels. Congratulations!
Hi,What a great article it is. I just wonder what type of mobile website is that and from what computer language it was built. Thanks is advance.
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