Hotels Eye Mobile First Strategies to Improve Guest Experience

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Hotels Eye Mobile First Strategies to Improve Guest Experience

By Michal Christine Escobar - 11/20/2017

Mobile is often the first (and sometimes the only) device used by guests when conducting business with a hotel. Hoteliers are recognizing this shift and adapting mobile apps and websites to be more convenient, functional, and service-friendly to empower guests and offload work traditionally performed by hotel. According to Hospitality Technology's 2017 Customer Engagement Technology Study, 44% of hotels say that creating a comprehensive guest mobile experience is an area most likely to grow in 2018. Improving the mobile experience along with IoT and omni-channel strategies, speak to a larger trend within the industry: offering a frictionless experience to customers.

Hotels are integrating their mobile apps with third-party apps to enable seamless experiences for travelers. RLHC integrated with Concur so that receipts/folios can be directly loaded into expense management software via the Hello Rewards app, making for easier expense reporting. Hilton announced an integration with Travel & Transport, allowing guests to access and adjust Hilton hotel details from one central mobile application. Integrating hotels’ mobile apps with the PMS is also improving guest experience. Breezy Point Resort will send automatic text messages to guests through their mobile app when housekeeping has finished with the room.

Mobile key technology slowly, but steadily, continues to gain traction in hotels. The Customer Engagement Technology Study reports an uptick from 12% of hotels offering mobile keys in 2016 to 16% in 2017. Small hotels and resorts like the Kiln Creek Golf Club & Resort to larger hotel corporations such as Hilton and Marriott allow guests to skip the front desk and head straight to the guestroom using smartphones as room keys. With 49% of consumers saying this tech will influence their hotel selection, expect to see more implementations.

However, some hotels are recognizing that not all guests want to download a hotel-branded mobile app to engage with the hotel. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts just announced that it launched Four Seasons Chat, a new digital service enabling guests to send and receive instant messages with property teams before, throughout and after their stay.  While other chat experiences require a guest to download and login to a hotel-branded mobile app, Four Seasons guests can send a message via multiple channels – namely the Four Seasons App, Facebook Messenger, WeChat or SMS.

Similarly, Best Western Hotels & Resorts announced the global launch of its new Best Western Mobile Guest Engagement Platform. The platform provides web-based guest communications tools pre-arrival, on property and at check-out, all without the necessity of downloading a smartphone application. Best Western members that tested the platform have reported significant increases in guest satisfaction, overall experience, and increased room revenue through native upselling and advertising functions. Notably, Medallia Net Promoter Scores (NPS) have increased by as much as 18 points for guests using the platform’s mobile requests feature. RevPAR has increased nearly $1 for every two-point NPS increase.