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Does Your Mobile Presence Measure Up to Guest Expectations?

Five Top Tips to Fill the Mobile Gap by Driving Loyalty, Increasing
Direct Revenues and Reducing Costs

Shopping for mobile solutions at HITEC?
Use these Top Tips as a guide and visit OpenWays in Booth #2315

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 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 More information can be found by visiting


Barb Worcester
PRPRO /OpenWays
Tel: (440) 930-5770


Andrew Sanders
Tel:  (732) 707-1869

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