By Magnus Friberg CEO, Zaplox
The demand for a seamless, hassle-free mobile customer journey isn’t unique to the hospitality industry — rather, it’s transforming countless industries around the world. Mobile is quickly becoming the experience modern consumers prefer. Utilizing mobile-optimized websites, apps, on-demand services and push-notifications allows brands to create unique communication streams, and better personalize their offerings.
Most would agree that the hospitality industry has been slow to begin this shift into the mobile space. This means that hoteliers have the unique opportunity to learn from the industries that lead the charge for the adoption of mobile tech. So how can hoteliers best empower the mobile guest journey? Let’s look to other industries to find out.
Give guests what they want
First and foremost, let’s address a universal. Regardless of your industry, a bad mobile experience could mean a lasting bad impression of your brand/offering and a lost customer. Creating an effective and seamless mobile experience takes much more than merely adapting your desktop experience to the small screen.
So while adapting to the demand for a mobile experience is essential, bringing something to the table that isn’t yet ready, tested or user-friendly will not work in your brand’s favor. In fact, in recent research, Google found that 51% of consumers look unfavorably on brands with mobile sites that are not designed for use on a smartphone. Moreover, Google found that almost half of smartphone users will not consider purchasing from brands that host poorly designed mobile sites. Load time, ease of use and seamless integration are increasingly integral in a customer’s interpretation of your mobile experience, with 73% of consumers switching from a poorly designed mobile site to an alternative that makes purchasing easy, Google found.
Make it easy
As we look to understand the demands of the mobile design, e-commerce experts stress the importance of creating a mobile experience that is optimized for mobile engagement, rather than just being ‘responsive.’ When hoteliers curate a mobile booking or in-app experience, it’s crucial to not just merely adjust the size and layout of the page but to make the final steps in a prospective guest’s journey (booking/purchasing) easy. This places emphasis on clear, user-friendly call to actions and fast checkout processes on the mobile website or in-app. After all, if the mobile experience isn’t convenient, what value is it to that consumer?
Hotels can emulate other service businesses, like that of going into your favorite coffee shop, and the staff already know what your order is going to be. The mobile experience should be smooth and seamless at every point of the guest journey – from reservations, pre-arrival messages, mobile check-in, mobile keys, to promotions, upgrades, and mobile check out with payment.
Invite and respond to feedback
With the evolution of the mobile landscape, comes the influx of online reviews. Perhaps no industry has felt the weight of this shift more than food and hospitality, with restaurant owners learning quickly that a negative review could make or break their business. In order to optimize the mobile journey, business owners need to encourage customer feedback while also being hyper-responsive to that feedback. Customers and guests alike want to feel heard, which means a response from the business which they are reviewing can go a long way (whether that review was positive or constructive in nature). This applies directly to hoteliers hoping to empower their hotel’s public perception with positive guest reviews.
Beyond online review forums, mobile presents the opportunity for business owners to connect with guests via their preferred social platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.). The more you engage with your target audience, the better you get to know them, their different expectations/preferences and preferred experiences. This also provides them with more insight into your brand, as you have the opportunity to curate a unique brand voice and persona that customers and guests can better connect to. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever before for hoteliers to make their presence known online, embracing the power of online reviews and utilizing that communication stream to forge more personalized relationships with guests.
Personalization is the key
Starbucks has also been praised for their approach to enhancing the mobile customer journey. Following a recent redesign of their mobile app to place more emphasis on personalization, the app uses information it already has on its customers. This data includes drink preferences, the time of day they frequent the cafe, etc.) to craft special offers, discounts, and coupons while effectively tracking their loyalty program. The app even highlights the song playing inside the store, in case the customer wants some insight into the cafe soundtrack. According to Business Insider, the app’s results are clearly visible: more visits to the store and more spending. However, perhaps the most significant proof of the importance of app personalization lies in the words of Matthew Ryan, Starbucks’ global chief strategy officer, “Any screen can become a personalized screen moving forward.”
Nike Run Club has also received praise for the revamp of their fitness app over a year ago, which created the experience of a ‘fitness instructor in your pocket’. In the app, users can choose a workout plan, which then adapts (on its own), depending on the progress the users make. Basically, users decide what they want to achieve, and as they go, the app tracks the progress. It then uses the information on that progress, to tailor the workout routine for best results.
Hoteliers can tap into this model by utilizing guest data collected (with permissions) via the mobile app to truly enhance and personalize the guest experience on-property and beyond. Using data allows hoteliers to curate relevant and timely marketing offers that are more likely to resonate with guests and create revenue opportunities.
The embrace of the mobile experience is exciting for brands across all industries, and with the right insight, hoteliers can benefit from this trend to truly transform the guest experience. With engaged guests, personalized mobile (and in-person) conveniences and attentive staff, hotels are sure to inspire long-term guest loyalty and profits.