News for the Hospitality Executive
by Andrew Sanders
August 8, 2012
As we near the end of third quarter 2012, and hoteliers prepare their budgets for 2013, it's important to reflect on how mobile technology has permeated the travel landscape to better prepare for the burgeoning need for improved mobile technology in the hospitality sector. Hoteliers who may not have fully grappled with effectively implementing a mobile strategy will need to gear up or get left behind. The reality is travelers are relying on their cell phones more and more to interact with the hotel on their own terms. This is a huge opportunity for the hotel to engage with the customer more and more and build a new form of brand loyalty. Mobility is making such strides that 93% of airlines today have "mobile services for passengers" as a top investment priority over the next three years. In addition, 58% are investing in major programs, and 89% of airlines plan to sell tickets via mobile devices by 2015, a recent SITA report revealed.
The 14th Annual SITA/Airline Business IT Trends Survey, which represents the views of more than half of the world's top 100 carriers, reports that by 2015, almost nine out of 10 airlines plan to have flight search, check-in, boarding passes, purchase and status notification as part of their core mobile services offering.
The question begs to be asked of hoteliers: "Is your hotel committed to a mobile future?" Recognizing that a large number of hotel guests are likely airline passengers, the answer must be "Yes!"
For those hoteliers still not convinced that a mobile strategy is needed for 2013, a new survey of business travelers conducted by FlightView could change their minds. The study found that mobile, day-of-travel notifications are critical for business travelers. More than 94 percent of business travelers said they want the status of their flights pushed to their phones, 63 percent want to be notified about seat upgrade availability, and more than 70 percent want to receive an alert when their flight is boarding.
This research tells us that today's travelers demand access to instant, relevant information. Because of the convenience and flexibility that mobile devices afford consumers, many -- especially Generation Y (consumers age 18 to 32 who spend approximately $200 billion on travel annually) -- will never be caught without a cell phone. They love instant gratification and are notorious for not being willing to wait in line and hate being delayed or their progress restricted. Just as travelers are eager to board their planes, they are equally as anxious to get into their hotel rooms.
The FlightView report sent an important message to airport and airline executives, and the message is equally critical to hotel owners and operators: "It’s time to get on board with advanced travel technology."
Mike Benjamin, CEO of FlightView, had this to say: “Business travelers, pressed for time, want access to new tools and technologies that make traveling easier and more efficient. Every time an airport or airline rolls out a new offering, it raises travelers’ expectations, which, in turn, puts pressure on others in the industry to quickly adopt and integrate new technologies.”
Mobile Key/Front Desk Bypass Making Strides in Meeting Travelers' Mobile Expectations
Consumers like to take control of their travel experience, and it begins the moment they start researching their desired destinations. According to PhocusWright, one third of all global travel will be booked online by 2013. Mobile transactions too are gaining momentum. Google reports that 70 percent of business travelers will check into their flights/hotel with their mobile device; almost one in four hotel queries come from a mobile phone; and more than 50% of travelers are currently using their mobile phone or device for travel-related information.
According to the FlightView report, more than 80% of business travelers who have not yet had access to mobile boarding passes would have used them had they been available. The report continues: "As the market for mobile tools and information matures, it's no longer enough for airlines and airports to simply have mobile websites and native apps. Today's business travelers demand certain functionalities, information and self-service options in mobile solutions that simplify the travel experience."
So if air travelers are relying more and more on their mobile phones to streamline the travel process and avoid waiting in lines, hotels need to follow suit. In "The Psychology of Waiting in Lines," author David Maister writes that "Waiting is frustrating, demoralizing, agonizing, aggravating, annoying, time consuming and incredibly expensive. The waiting-line experience in a service facility significantly affects our overall perceptions of the quality of service provided. Once we are being served, our transaction with the service organization may be efficient, courteous and complete: but the bitter taste of how long it took to get attention pollutes the overall judgments that we make about the quality of service."
Hotel guests, who are as mobile-savvy as airline passengers, know that they will be made to wait in line at the front-desk to check in. Hotels and hotel brands that ease the pain of the arrival process by guaranteeing smooth sailing all the way to the guestroom are building loyalty and enhancing guest service. With hotel check-in averaging four minutes or more per non-loyalty club customer, having a mobile front-desk bypass option that enables guests to use their mobile device as a room key, could mean the difference between guest retention and loss.
The good news is, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) are on the rise today. According to Q2, 2012, reports from Smith Travel Research, occupancy is up 3.1 percent to 65 percent, ADR rose 4.7 percent, and RevPAR increased by 7.9 percent to $69 -- and the company predicts a continuation of this trend throughout the second half of 2012. The bad news is, without a mobile strategy that includes a mobile self-service option for front desk bypass, hotels may not as quickly reap the rewards of the travel rebound.
Offering a mobile key option for front-desk bypass eases the guests’ progress and thereby enhances their hotel experience. With Mobile Key by OpenWays, there simply is no wait in line. Travelers can use any of the 6.5 billion mobile devices in use as a room key. The guest is provided a room key that is made up entirely of data, with no wait. The solution is sustainable and the guest is contributing to the environment by avoiding use of the environmentally-harmful plastic key.
Hotels that do not have a mobile strategy in place will quickly find themselves left behind against their competitors who are moving at light speed to keep up with the dramatic advanced made by airlines.
In a recent article titled: "The Smart Hotelier’s Guide to 2013 Digital Marketing Budget Planning," authors Max Starkov and Mariana Mechoso Safer of HeBS Digital, said the U.S. hospitality industry is experiencing staggering growth rates in leisure and unmanaged business travel bookings via the mobile channel, achieving $99 million in 2010, $753 million in 2011, estimating $1.3 billion in 2012 and, according to PhocusWright, predicting $2.15 billion in 2013. That revenue is just from "mobile bookings."
The HeBS study showed that of the Top 10 "core initiatives" that hoteliers are spending their marketing dollars on today, mobile marketing tops the list at 15.6 percent. Adding Mobile Key by OpenWays for front desk bypass not only gets guests to their rooms faster, it complements a hotel's mobile e-marketing efforts. Once guests have enrolled in Mobile Key by OpenWays, it can open up a range of opportunities for continual communications before, during and after the stay.
In addition, Mobile Key by OpenWays is leveling the playing field for all hotels, enabling all properties to deliver a mobile self-service option to ALL guests regardless of the phone they carry or the network they use.
Travelers' mobile expectations today are universal. Budgeting for the Mobile Key by OpenWays front desk bypass option to the traditional hotel check in will help the industry bridge the gap between the air travel and hotel experience. Hotels that want to deliver more mobile services in 2013 to attract a wider audience and exceed traveler expectations needs to embrace Mobile Key by OpenWays today.
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
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