News for the Hospitality Executive
By Andrew Sanders
June 7, 2012
Few technologies have influenced the hotel and travel markets to such an extent as mobility is doing today. PMS, GDS, CRS and the Internet have all played a significant role in shaping today's hospitality landscape. Mobile technology, however, is crossing the boundaries of systems and communications platforms and presents both a challenge and opportunity to provide what guests want at affordable levels of investment for the hotel.
To be successful today, a hotel's mobile platform must be far reaching, extending to all guest touch points -- from searching for the ideal room and price, making a reservation through to unlocking the room door and offering a wide variety of onsite and local market information and services. The technology platform also must be holistic and pull together the hotel's business operations by changing the dynamics among marketing, loyalty, distribution, and revenue-management departments, and enabling hoteliers to better communicate with guests while simultaneously developing a revenue-generating e-commerce platform.
A new PhoCusWright report, Mobile Hits the Mainstream: Technology and Industry Trends is revealing the increasing impact of U.S. mobile travel commerce. Growing from zero just a few years ago, U.S. mobile leisure/unmanaged business travel gross bookings reached nearly $2.6 billion in 2011, representing 2.4% of the U.S. online travel market. By 2013, that share is projected to grow to 6.5%.
The study found that 75 percent of business travelers access the Internet via mobile phones, and 58 percent of business travelers report using mobile phones to accomplish the same tasks that they would typically complete on a computer. The top three travel-related uses via mobile phone today relate to location-based services, such as finding directions, researching local activities and learning more about the destination. Perhaps most significantly, however, the study showed that 30% of business travelers said they want to receive personalized offers specific to their destination. Therefore, the adage "Location, Location, Location" is still very relevant today.
To capitalize on this “mobility momentum," independent and branded hotels need to evolve their entire Internet presence. It needs to become an interactive, interesting and relevant web presence plus a mobile platform, both of which enrich the customer experience and develop new sources of revenue.
Does your mobile presence measure up to guest expectations?
Five Top Tips to Filling the Mobile Gap by Driving Loyalty, Increasing Direct Revenues and Reducing Costs
1. Guest Engagement is Key
Having a comprehensive Internet strategy is key to maximizing bookings from your hotel’s website and mobile platform, but that is only the first step. It is important that customers enjoy an easy to use, yet valuable, experience. Your engagement with travelers needs to provide them with a quick interaction on their own terms – i.e. whenever and wherever they want it. Once they are engaged with you and your brand, you can start layering additional interaction. Provided the interaction is valuable, meaningful and relevant, they will welcome the exchange.
Once you have established a level of engagement that enables them to book your hotel with ease, how else can you interact with them in an appropriate fashion? Are you providing local offers and interesting pieces of information that are useful to their stay and can make their experience more enjoyable? What facilities have you created to specifically interact with them via their mobile device that encourages them to use it and stay with you again and again? How are you building your mobile marketing database and outreach strategy?
Because consumers are increasingly familiar and comfortable with mobile transactions, enabling guests to use their mobile devices for location-based transactions across the hotel enterprise is an exciting option.
Author and Hotel Consultant Daniel Edward Craig says: "The use of mobile devices is proliferating at a staggering rate, and travelers are leading the charge. You don’t need an app, you need a mobile-compatible site that provides basic content travelers can navigate on a small screen: pricing, descriptions, location info, photos, deals and booking capabilities. And don’t forget a click-to-call option—some people actually use them as telephones too."
2. Offer Useful Services that Your Guests Want
One of the best ways to offer guests personalized service is to provide mobile-based self-service options for those people who appreciate speed and service. The option of self-service, when delivered as part of a strategic customer engagement program, can help many hotels cater to today's time-starved and on-the-go consumers. For example, empowering hotel guests to bypass traditional attended-service procedures at the front-desk and instead use their mobile phone as a room key is driving guest loyalty, creating brand stickiness and building a competitive advantage by offering an appealing benefit guests like.
New self-service concepts have emerged among several hotel brands across all service levels demonstrating that hotels can operate with a radically new alternative to the traditional front desk reception area. As long as guests are greeted when they enter the hotel, and staff interaction is available to them on their own terms, traditional front desk processes can be significantly reduced or even eliminated – including the need to stop at registration to obtain a physical room key. Such use of mobile devices as a “mobile key” is offering great convenience for guests who do not want to wait in line when they arrive at a hotel and just want to get straight to their room.
Demand among travelers to access mobile apps for services such as in-room and restaurant dining, wake-up calls, valet/bell desk, housekeeping, shopping, concierge, nightlife, transportation, spa, golf and branded amenities are also on the rise. Likewise, providing real-time content updates for special promotions and obtaining real-time guest feedback from electronic guest surveys or text messages is proving increasingly valuable to hoteliers and marketers. Using mobility for two-way hotel-to-guest and guest-to-hotel conversations not only increases loyalty and revenues, but also enhances the hotel's green credentials by virtually eliminating paper-based in-room marketing material.
3. Reduce Third Party Fees by Delivering Experiences that are Exclusive to Your Mobile Presence
Once a hotel is engaged with its customers and is offering them the services they want in a method that they prefer, a new level of trust develops on the part of the traveler. Soon a loyal guest – now extremely comfortable with the customized, convenient services provided by the property or brand – will begin to book directly on the hotel or brand website. This gives the property the opportunity to offer unique benefits that are exclusively available through direct channels while saving considerable fees paid to third-party distribution companies or online travel agencies. Once again, offering a mobile key option to guests is a prime example of a unique benefit driven by direct website bookings.
The process of guests using Mobile Key by OpenWays, for instance, permits an opt-in decision that the customer can make to receive pertinent messages from the hotel, thereby creating a direct channel of communication between the hotel and guest which further engages with the consumer. These messages go directly on the mobile device that the customer has in his or her possession almost all the time: their mobile phone. Building such a qualified mobile marketing database is normally an extremely difficult and expensive process that can be built automatically when associated with a valued-extra amenity such as Mobile Key.
We know that a significant number of guests actually want to receive relevant special offers provided they have opted in for mobile marketing messages that can result in new sales or upselling for the hotel. A hotel can message the guest with a time-sensitive offer, such as: "Book a spa treatment by 4:00 p.m. and receive a 20% discount," or more general but valuable "Happy Hour Specials," "Wine Flight Tastings" or "Free Appetizer with Dinner."
4. Get Your E-Commerce, Marketing, Distribution and Revenue Management Teams on the Same Page
While technology (hardware and software), the Internet, and Social Media networks are helping owners and managers streamline their operations, improve guest service and increase revenues, it has simultaneously blurred the lines between the sales and marketing, distribution and revenue management departments. As revenue managers focus on maximizing room price based on demand, marketing and distribution teams can pool their resources to maximize revenues via mobile marketing and social media campaigns.
By tapping the expertise of the e-commerce, marketing, distribution and revenue management teams and tying individual programs together into a comprehensive mobile program, hotels can drive on-property revenue, better manage marketing campaigns and enhance the guest experience – all vital components to building a valuable mobile marketing guest strategy. Using a vehicle such as a mobile key facility to start a conversation with guests opens more than just room doors. It opens a new channel to promote undersold onsite amenities, such as spa appointments or golf tee times, with alerts and electronic “coupons” sent instantly to guests via text message or email. This facilitates cross-selling and up-sell guests on everything that’s happening on-property in real time when guests can take advantage of it. By using mobile messaging with offers for on-property dining, amenities and attractions -- even offering discounts for future stays if booked before the guest checks out or by a pre-determined date -- loyalty and additional revenues naturally follow.
5. Build Revenues, Lower Costs and Develop Loyalty
This concerted effort -- engaging guests via a mobile platform they are comfortable with, offering the services they want by communicating when they want the information, and initiating cross-departmental mobile marketing can quickly pay off in bottom line revenues, reduced costs and an increase in loyal and engaged customers. Getting customers to opt-in and begin the mobile conversation is critical to having a mobile presence that exceeds guest expectations.
A sure-fire way to engage today's travelers -- especially Generation Y travelers age 18-32 who wouldn't be caught without a cell phone, spend approximately $200 billion annually on travel, and will do anything possible to avoid waiting in lines -- is to promote convenience and self-service. Offering a mobile key program for front-desk bypass is a win-win to hoteliers and travelers. Guests experience the hotel on their own terms, hoteliers lower their cost of receiving reservations while improving the opportunity to build a relationship with each customer, and with it, loyalty, repeat business and revenues.
Developing a mobile presence that meets guests' expectations is a great way to fill the communications gap. The end result will be a solid e-commerce platform for increasing direct revenues, driving hotel and brand loyalty and reducing costs for individual properties and the brand enterprise.
About Andrew Sanders
Andrew Sanders is Vice President of Business Development at OpenWays. He has held senior executive positions at a variety of software solutions providers to the hospitality sector for nearly 20 years and was formerly executive director of corporate develop and vice president of sales at MSI. Previously he was director of sales at MICROS, Director of Sales & Marketing at RedSky IT and business unit head for hotels and leisure at McDonnell Douglas Information Systems. He can be reached at [email protected] or (732 ) 707 -1869.
OpenWays is a global solution provider of mobile-based access-management and security solutions. With offices in Chicago, Las Vegas, Seoul and in Europe, OpenWays provides technology solutions allowing for the secure issuance and delivery of access rights and keys process via any cell phone operating on any network. The OpenWays solution is truly unique as it is built on the concept of credential dematerialization. The OpenWays mobile room key solution works on ALL the 6 billion cell phones in service in the world today. For more information, please contact Andrew Sanders at (732) 707-1869 or email [email protected]. More information can be found by visiting www.OpenWays.com.
Tel: (440) 930-5770
Tel: (732) 707-1869
Reasons Why a Mobile Key Front Desk Bypass Solution Aids Travelers'
Psychological Health; An article in Psych Central titled '8 Reasons Why
Waiting in Line Drives us Crazy' identifies key factors that make waits
seem longer; Mobile Key by OpenWays eliminates those eight factors and
more / Pascal Metivier / June 2012
Inn Express Hotel & Suites Marion, Illinois, to Open Doors with
Mobile Key by OpenWays; New construction hotel is scheduled to open in
early May with OpenWays' front-desk bypass option that enables
travelers to unlock their room doors via mobile device / April 2012
interTouch Announcing 'FREEDOM CHECK IN' Powered by OpenWays Mobile Key
to Add Front Desk Bypass Solution to its Offering; DOCOMO InterTouch
announces its strategic alliance with OpenWays / April 2012
Luxury Property 'The Hotel' Brussels is First in Belgium to Adopt
Mobile Key by OpenWays; Highest building in Brussels is bristling with
technology, including offering OpenWays' smartphone apps to allow
guests to bypass any front desk line and get straight to their rooms
without delay / March 2012
Only of Data, Mobile Key by OpenWays is 'Key' to a Greener Earth; There
are no keycards greener than the OpenWays Crypto Acoustic Credential
that enables hotel guests to unlock their rooms via mobile phone /
Hotels & Suites Sees Mobile Key by OpenWays as Key Differentiator
for New Brand / February 2012
Ascott Limited to Assess OpenWays Mobile Key Front Desk Bypass at
Citadines Apart'hotels in Lyon and Cannes, France / February 2012
Announcing: Mobile Key DUAL© with Pure NFC™ in Cooperation with
Nordic Choice Hotels, NOKIA and NXP / January 2012
Key by OpenWays Named 'Top Innovation' by Lodging Magazine /
CEO, Pascal Metivier, Addressed Hospitality Technology Leaders at
HTNG's European Event About Front-desk Bypass Solutions / November
= More Service with Mobile Key by OpenWays; Hospitality industry's
leading provider of front-desk bypass solutions is equipping
mobile-centric travelers with tools that get them to their destination
quicker and hoteliers with a means to deliver more services /
Announces Next Generation Mobile Key Apps for Smartphones; Mobile Key
Apps now available for ALL smartphone operating systems; Visit OpenWays
in Booth #3172 at IH/M&RS Nov. 13-15 in New York / November 2011
Introduces 'Mobile Key' for Independent Hotels;To meet the growing
demand among non-branded hotels wanting a Mobile Key Front-Desk Bypass
Solution, OpenWays is introducing a cost-effective and secure option
for Independents that harnesses mobile technologies to reduce costs,
improve financials, and drive guest loyalty / October 2011
Introduces Mobile Master Key; OpenWays simplifies hotel master key
management by harnessing mobile technologies to make all locks 'on
line' without costly infrastructure: Visit OpenWays in Booth #3172 at
IH/M&RS Nov. 13-15 in New York / October 2011
Guests Does Not Drive Loyalty; Reducing Their Effort Does; Mobile Key
by OpenWays is driving loyalty and brand stickiness by easing
check-in/out processes / October 2011
Impressions Count: Five Things to Set the Scene for Your Guests’ Stay,
Make their Arrival More Enjoyable, and Build Loyalty via Convenience
and Choice / Andrew Sanders / September 2011
Key by OpenWays: The 'SMARTER' and 'Greener' Check-In; At HITEC 2011,
OpenWays will present -- with Ariane Systems and KABA® Saflok™ --
the 'SMARTEST' check-in solution deployed TODAY! / June 2011
Unveils its Next Generation Door Lock Upgrade Module for Mobile Key
Front Desk Bypass Service / June 2011
and KABA Unveil All-In-One Saflok RFID Lock with Factory-Integrated
OpenWays Mobile Key / June 2011
Self Service Mean More Service? YES! With OpenWays' Mobile Key /
Self-Service Options is Key to Hospitality Loyalty; OpenWays is the
'Mobile' Key to Making it Happen / January 2011
5 will be Compatible with OpenWays CAC™; All next generation
smartphones, including the iPhone 5, Google Android Phones, Windows 7
Mobile Phones, Nokia C7 and N8 Smartphones or Next Generation
Blackberry's will be able to operate the OpenWays Crypto Acoustic
Credential™ / November 2010
Check In Today All the Way to Your Room Using 'Your' Cell Phone, ANY
Model and ANY Carrier / November 2010
Technology Veteran Andrew Sanders Joins OpenWays as VP Business
Development / November 2010
Platform Displayed at IHMRS Aiding in National Industry GREEN Efforts;
There are no key-cards greener than the OpenWays Crypto Acoustic Data
Credential that allows hotel guests to check in to their rooms via
mobile phone / October 2010
IN YOUR WAY" OpenWays Launches New Campaign to Aid Hotels' Mobile
Marketing Initiatives / October 2010
Mobile Application is Live at a Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express
Hotel; The world's first mobile front desk bypass solution is up and
running at two IHG properties / September 2010
Agueda Joins OpenWays as VP of R&D; Twenty-five year hospitality
and security systems veteran instrumental in designing the most
installed and successful electronic-locking systems in North America
joins OpenWays to lead R&D efforts; Maurizio Zama promoted to Chief
Operating Officer / September 2010
|OpenWays Cell Phone Based Front Desk Bypass Solution is Adding to the Business Traveler Experience; HITEC attendees using OpenWays app to enter Guestroom 20X said the mobile room key solution, which gives travelers freedom to completely bypass the front desk by using their cell phone for guestroom access, is ideal for all guests who want to avoid lines at the front desk; Company answers new questions posed at the premier technology event / July 2010|
|Front-Desk Bypass Cell Phone Solution: OpenWays Announces First Pilots at a Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express Hotel; OpenWays and IHG will pilot a new cell-phone-based front desk bypass solution that offers guests the option to use their personal cell phone as a mobile room key / June 2010|
|OpenWays Mobile Phone Front Desk Bypass Solution Selected for Guestroom 20X at HITEC; Attendees of the 38th Annual Hospitality Information Technology Exposition & Conference will have an opportunity to check into a virtual hotel, bypass the front desk, and open their room door securely using nothing but their cell phone -- any mobile device, any carrier works! / May 2010|
|OpenWays Opening Doors to Gen Y Travelers Wishing to Bypass Front Desk; Allowing guests to check-in remotely by equipping door locks to open via any cell phone is ideal for attracting this green-conscious, tech-dependent, instant gratification generation / May 2010|
|OpenWays Selected by Microsoft® to Join Its BizSpark™ Start-Up Program; Developer of the world's first crypto acoustic solution for check-in/out and room access via any mobile phone to receive full Microsoft marketing support, tools, licensing, and global visibility / April 2010|
|ITB Berlin Attendees Flock to OpenWays' iPhone App for Front-Desk Bypass, Acoustic Room Keys; Attendees at world's largest trade show for the travel industry flocked to see world's first crypto acoustic solution for check-in/out and room access via any guest's mobile phone; OpenWays was one of 11,127 companies from 187 countries that exhibited at the record-breaking event / April 2010|
|OpenWays Presents its iPhone Application to Bypass Front Desks and Open Room Locks; Mobile solution provider that developed the world's first crypto acoustic solution for check-in/out and room access via any guest's mobile phone announces new services to further enhance operations and guest services. / February 2010|
|OpenWays Responds to FAQs Regarding its Front Desk Bypass Solutions that Securely Open Hotel Room Doors by Cell Phone; Mobile solution provider that developed the world's first acoustic solution for check-in/out and room access via a guest's mobile phone regardless of type answers hospitality industry's most frequently asked questions / February 2010|
|100% of the World Cell Phones to Open Doors with OpenWays' Apps; Hospitality's FIRST Check-In /-Out Solution with Mobile Room Key Delivery for ALL Cell Phones is at IH/MRS! / November 2009|
|4 Billion Cell Phones Now Opening Doors to Better Guest Service Thanks to OpenWays / October 2009|
|OpenWays Introduces the Fastest and Greenest Way to Check In and Open a Hotel Room Door; Mobile room-key application for ALL cell phones NOW AVAILABLE / October 2009|