Hotel Online Special Report

Hospitality Upgrade                       Hospitality Upgrade

.

Marketing to the
Cell Phone Generation

This article is from the Summer 2009 issue of Hospitality Upgrade magazine.To view more articles covering technology for the hospitality industry please visit the Hospitality Upgrade Web site or to request a free publication please call (678) 802-5307 or e-mail.
By Bill Geoghegan

It is difficult to remember what life was like before the cell phone.  While most of the statistics were gathered in 2005 and 2006, according to the CIA World Factbook 2007, there were over 2 billion cell phones in use throughout the world. In developed countries like the United States, United Kingdom and Western Europe, the worldwide penetration of cell phones is greater than 97 percent of the population.  Including developing countries, over 48 percent of the world population has a cell phone. In many developing countries, such as South Korea, the number of cell phones in use exceeds the number of people in the country.  Much of this can be explained by the fact that the penetration of landlines was low, and the cellular technology allowed communication companies to skip building out the landline infrastructure completely, going directly to cells.

While the percentage of cell phone users in the United States is not as high as it is in some countries, more than 70 percent of Americans have and use cell phones, with a large number opting to eliminate their landlines completely. A BBDO survey found that 75 percent of cell phone owners in the U.S. had their phones on and within reach at all times during their waking hours, while 26 percent said it was more important for them to return home to retrieve a forgotten cell phone than it was to get a wallet.

  • 75 percent of cell phone owners in the U.S. had their phones on and within reach at all times during their waking hours.
  • 26 percent said it was more important for them to return home to retrieve a forgotten cell phone than it was to get a wallet.
 
Yet the cellular world is still in its infancy.  Cellular handsets have gone from nothing more than a remote telephone receiver to being a fully functional computing device, capable of sending and receiving e-mail, browsing the Internet, and using an embedded GPS to find the way to a destination.  With included still and movie cameras as well as voice recording ability, the cell phone is the most convergent device in existence. Companies like Palm, Research in Motion® (RIM®–makers of the BlackBerry® line of phones), Samsung and Apple® have continuously enhanced their products on a short cycle with new features.
 
In addition to basic phone functionality, the cell phone has provided us with short message service or SMS – the ability to send and receive short text messages through the phone.  This communication method has been widely abused by teenagers, but represents a powerful method of getting a marketing message to a cell phone subscriber.  Like e-mail, it is delivered whenever the phone is on and within range, and will be buffered for later delivery if the phone is out of range or off.  Sending a message to a phone from a Web site is a straight-forward process, with many third-party subscription services able to send to phones of most cellular providers.

Wireless application protocol (WAP) is an international standard that allows Internet access from a mobile phone or personal digital assistant (PDA).  The WAP standards define the cellular world’s version of hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). Unfortunately, not every cell phone supplier has accepted and integrated WAP into their phones and systems, but the move toward multimedia messaging service (MMS or picture messaging), which combines WAP and SMS, and is driving adoption of the WAP protocol.
 
Many cell phones are now bypassing the WAP protocol and instead use mobile browsers to bring Internet content to the phones. Unlike the PC and Mac worlds, there is no dominant browser for cell phones, although a number of leaders are emerging.  BlackBerry devices have a proprietary browser, while Opera Mobile, Apple’s Safari® and Internet Explorer Mobile are making inroads.
 
While communicating with a cell phone user is an outstanding marketing opportunity, it is one fraught with some challenges.
 
The mobile industry has been diligent in protecting its customers from spam using SMS, so it is important to understand the limitations in using the short messages for marketing.  Also, many subscribers are charged a fee for each message they send and receive, which means that bombarding a customer with SMS opportunities can lead to a distasteful bill at the end of the month. Notwithstanding, there are a number of uses that can be found in the hotel and casino environment that are certainly worth investigating.
 
There are a number of uses that can be found in the hotel and casino environment that are certainly worth investigating.

With typically 3,000 to 5,000 rooms, both casino and convention hotels may turn 70 percent of their rooms in a single day.  In the casino hotel environment, it is not uncommon for the Sunday checkout and checkin count to exceed 3,000.  Many of the weekend guests stay until (or frequently past) their designated check-out time, with many of the Sunday arrivals coming before check-in time, making it virtually impossible to clean and inspect the rooms in time to re-assign them.  It is not uncommon for long lines to form at the front desk with people simply waiting to get their room keys.  In the casino, this long line of people represents lost opportunity for the restaurants, shops and a guest standing in line cannot be playing at the tables or slot machines.  By checking the guests into the hotel without assigning a room at the time of their arrival and storing any luggage they might have, the guest can be given folio charge privileges for the restaurants and outlets, and do whatever they would like to do. When their room becomes available, a short message can be sent to their cell phone notifying them that their room is ready and asking them to return to a designated area where they will receive a key.  This does not even have to be the front desk.
 
To initiate this process, the guest must supply a cell phone number at the time of checkin. At the same time, the guest may be requested to opt in to an in-house marketing campaign.  The hotel can then send directed text messages to the guest identifying specials, such as last-minute show reservations or early bird restaurant offers.  The same information can be used to notify a guest when their table at a restaurant or the buffet becomes available, allowing the guest to play in the casino rather than stand in line.
Once the guest’s check-out time has passed, the guest-directed marketing to that phone stops, but if the guest has opted in for future marketing, special deals can be sent to that phone at any time. Thank you notes and guest survey invitations can also be sent after the guest has departed, raising the perceived service levels.
 
One of the most important changes that must be made by a hotel company to embrace cell phones is to make its Web site mobile aware, and create alternative content that works well in the mobile environment.  This is a technology that is still evolving, but many of the more popular mobile browsers can be identified and content molded to fit the smaller viewing area.Wide content, and especially Flash, will drive viewers away from a site that has been optimized for a 1024 x 768 pixel screen, and utilizing the forms that many sites use are difficult at best.
 
As the demographic of hotel guests encompasses more and more generation X and generation Y, paying close attention to the marketing and service opportunities afforded by the mobile phone is necessary. Some of the more inventive hotels and casinos are differentiating themselves by embracing these opportunities and at the same time providing better service to the guest.



Bill Geoghegan


Bill Geoghegan is a consultant in Las Vegas. He can be reached for comment at                      Bill@LGTConsulting.com.


© Hospitality Upgrade, 2009. No reproduction or transmission without written permission.



Contact:
Geneva Rinehart 
Managing Editor 
Hospitality Upgrade magazine 
and the Hospitality Upgrade.com website
http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com/
grinehart@hospitalityupgrade.com
 
Also See: Sensible Marketing in Tough Times / Cindy Estis Green / March 2009

5 TIPS to Getting Started on the Mobile Web  / Mark Watson / March 2009

Software as a Service: A Bright Spot in a Bleak Landscape / Scott Alvis / March 2009

Voice & Data Protocols Opens Whole New World of Communications / Bill Peters / October 2008

Hotels Will Need to Move from Self Service Applications into Multichannel / Alon Kronenberg and Amitava Chatterjee, CHTP/ Oct 2008

Dealerless Poker - Casinos reduce risks by automating /  Bill Geoghegan/ June 2008

Balance of Power / Tina McCrossan/ June 2008

Hospitality Technology Contracts and Pitfalls / Raymond M. Asad / June 2007

The Online Metrics Handbook for Travel Marketers / by Cindy Estis Green for TIA and HSMAI / March 2007

Future Proofing Your Property / by John Burns / March 2007

Ask Not For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls / Mergers and Acquisitions - Good for the Hospitality Industry? / Michael Schubach / March 2007

Hello, Front Desk? I Think I've Been Robbed!/ Nick Price / February 2007

The Personal Data Privacy & Security Act– Is Your Hotel Ready? / Rick Warner / October 2006

Hospitality Loyalty Programs; Strategies for Points-based, Recognition-based Programs / Mark Haley / October 2006

How Fast Do You Want to Go? Understanding the risks and costs with technology implementation and getting there too fast/ Ed Klein / October 2006

What's New in the Hotel Guestroom? Digital, HD or IP Televisions / Ashok Kumar / June 2006

A Future Vision for Hotel Revenue Management / Caryl Helsel and Kathleen Cullen / June 2006

Marketing to the Next Generation of Buyers; Scoring Your Hotel Reservations System / Debra Kristopson / June 2006

Consortia-Corporate-Group Best Available Rate (BAR): Good or Bad for Hotels? / Caryl Helsel / October 2005

Check In Kiosks: Coming to a Hotel Lobby Near You? / Jerry W. Sheldon / October 2005

Moving into Compliance Mode; Realizing the Benefits, Cutting the Costs / Dorian Cougias / March 2005

What Hoteliers Need to Know About Flat Panel and HDTVs / Jake Buckstead / March 2005

10 Trends Affecting Hospitality IT in 2005 / Bradford Iverson / March 2005

Searching for Bookings? Optimize / Dr. Matthew Dunn / August 2004

Instant Messaging: Age Is Everything - Expectations of Immediacy, Productivy and the Rise of IM / Elizabeth L. Ivey / August 2004

Baby It's Cold Outside the Firewall / Michael Schubach / April 2004

High Wired: The Hotel Room of the Future / Kelly Stanford / April 2004

We're Not In Kansas Anymore; Differentiating your hotel through technology / Mark Haley / January 2004

Understanding the Power of Customer Relationship Management / Neil Holm / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / November 2003

The Case for Self Service in Hospitality / Marvin Erdly and Amitava Chatterjee / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / October 2003

Five Questions to Ask Online Distributors / Michelle Peluso / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / October 2003

Surf's Up - Internet Marketing for Destination Properties / Marvin Erdly and Amitava Chatterjee / Debra Kristopson / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / October 2003

Wireless Changes Everything; So, do ya want a latte with that or what? / Jocelyn Valley / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / June 2003

Customer Awareness or Customer Beware? Data Security in a CRM-Obsessed Industry / Elizabeth Ivey / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / June 2003

Your Magnificent Selling Machine Would you Prefer Your Hotel to Get: the Web Hit or the Phone Call? / Robert Camastro / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / June 2003

Tradeshows & Economic Soldiers / Dan Phillips / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / April 2003

Hotel Telecommunications in the 21st Century / Geoff Griswold / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / March 2003

The ABCs of CRM  / Mark Haley & Bill Watson / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / March 2003

Getting the Most out of Your IT Investment / By: Clay B. Dickinson / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2002

The Role of Paper in a Digital World / By: Bill Fitzpatrick / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2002

The Rotten Pineapple (international symbol of hospitality) / By: Steve D'Erasmo / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall  2002

Focusing on Labor Can Improve More Than Just Cost / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Summer 2002

Attention Hotels - An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure / Elizabeth Lauer Ivey / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / May 2002 

HOSTEC - EURHOTEC 2002 - Room for Improvement / Christel Dietzsch / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Feb 2002 

Technology and the Human Touch / Dan Phillips / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2002

Wireless Technology:  Where We Have Been, Where Are we Going? / Geneva Rinehart / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2002

Effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Implementations / John Schweisberger and Amitava Chatterjee, CHTP / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2001 

What's Up With Call Accounting Systems (CAS) / Dan Phillips / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2001

Technology Dilemmas: What have IT investments done for you lately? / Elizabeth Lauer / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Summer 2001

Full Circle from Centralized to ASP - The Resurrection of Old Themes and a Payment Solution / Gary Eng / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Summer 2001 

A High Roller in the Game of System Integration / Elizabeth Lauer / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2001 

CAVEAT EMPTOR! Simple Steps to Selecting an E-procurement Solution / Mark Haley / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2001 

Your Bartender is Jessie James and He Needs to Pay for College / Beverly McCay / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2000 

Choosing a Reservation Representation Company / John Burns / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2001 

Understanding and Maximizing a Hotel’s Electronic Distribution Options / by John Burns / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2000 

The Future of Electronic Payments - From Paper to Plastic and Beyond / J. David Oder /  Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Summer 2000

Timeshare Technology Steps Up / by Elizabeth Lauer / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / July 2000 

Biometric Payment: The New Age of Currency / by Geneva Rinehart / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Mar 2000 


To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.Online Search

Home | Welcome! | Hospitality News | Classifieds | Catalogs & Pricing | Viewpoint Forum | Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.