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How can mobile engagement be used to reshape the hospitality industry?

Smartphones dominate our attention throughout the day. They came to change the nature of how we interact with the world around us, including the way we do business.

When it comes to travel and hospitality space, mobile phones have greatly reshaped their function, also for the benefit of the consumer. With expectations of mobile interactivity rising, consumers are becoming more demanding about the types of services they have at hand.

Here are some stats that will help you understand the mobile penetration of this industry:

  • TripAdvisor is the most popular app in the travel industry, with over 230 million downloads and 150 million monthly active users.

  • Mobile phone bookings during travel grew by 1700% between 2011 and 2015, moving from 1 percent to 18 percent of internet revenue.

  • 40% of mobile travel sales came in 2017, which is supposed to reach 50% by 2021.

  • 88 percent of leisure travelers will switch to a different application or website if it doesn't meet your needs

  • More than 50 per cent of travelers do not have a specific destination when planning a trip – and 60% will search for their next trip from a mobile device.

  • 1 of 3 boarding passes will be delivered on board by 2019

  • 66 percent of users prefer restaurants with a reward system, and 78 percent will use a mobile app in the case of discounts offered.

The bottom line is, mobile is here to stay. In fact, this will be more important in the daily life of the consumer, so tuning your hospitality project to most mobile phones is essential.

The hospitality industry is investing heavily in internet marketing (around $ 6 billion in 2016, to give you an idea) and using it to engage clients and stimulate conversions. However, sharing online with paid ads only quickly loses its appeal.

More and more companies are looking for their strategy and trying to integrate the mobile experience into every stage of the travel experience – from searching to sharing notes and staying at the hotel.

The role of mobile phones in the research phase

Earlier, your travel research did not necessarily include surfing the Internet. I called a travel agent after doing a brief online search, and trusted him to get a discount on the entire "package".

Nowadays, travelers are proud of their "research skills" and their ability to sponsor a great experience while providing the best deals for themselves. Much of their research takes them to social networking sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and user review platforms like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet.

This means that you must motivate your existing customers to share their journey online. Check-ins, comments, sharing photos, using custom hashtags and blogging are common strategies for inviting contributions.

But don't leave it all to the guests. Hotels should be actively involved in the creation and distribution of high-quality content. Focus on the things that drive value and make potential consumers think "These guys seem to know what they're talking about when it comes to travel, so I'm going to check it out!“And don’t forget to improve your reading content on smartphones, because searching for computers is very old. You can also partner with experts, professionals and influencers to enrich and give your content credibility.

Now that you've created valuable content, make sure it can be discovered on Google. You have a strong SEO strategy so that you are an advantage in the top search results. Also, get the hotel’s Google business listing, and keep your NAP consistency (name, address, and phone number) across platforms like Yelp, Yahoo, Foursquare, and Booking.com.

The virtual concierge is better. Guests can access this service on their mobile phones, allowing them to see the amenities of the hotel, see local attractions, or even see upgrade opportunities. You have to use the power of video to your advantage to give them online tours too.

From reservation to arrival

There is always a time lag between the time when guests book a time when they arrive at your hotel. Companies rarely use this period, but with a little thought, you can reach your guest and provide value-added services.

Communicate with your guests on their mobile phones, but in a way that is not considered spam. Give them useful information about the area, give them sightseeing options, and be informed about events happening throughout the hotel. And if they like something, let them book the seats with their smartphones.

You can even eliminate check-in line and other actions with the help of a mobile app. Guests can choose their rooms, choose add-ons and get a hassle free sign in to give them more control over their stay. This will not only free your employees for other aspects of the job, but will also earn brownie points for being proactive.

Hotel lobby and accommodation

People may ignore your lobby because there is nothing to attract their attention, regardless of the silence and strangeness seating arrangements. You can change that, and use this space to physically interact with guests, using cell phones.

The SoftBank robot Pepper is one of those innovations that really caught my attention. This robot is a great way to guide customers to use a series of mobile services that you may have, while also paving the way for affiliate services and programs.

Pepper can be programmed to chat with customers, answer questions, and give directions – her job is like Amazon's Alexa. With Pepper, there is a robot in front of customers that can dance, navigate, play music, light, blush and even take a great selfie with passersby.

Pepper can capture email addresses and phone numbers, and can be programmed to send customer messages with links to the mobile app, loyalty programs and other things before and after their stay in the hotel. With Pepper, you can capture the data you need to create a truly personalized experience for your guests The Reason for most hotels now looking positively on mobile phone.

Finally, your application

You are probably wondering when we will get to this, because we have covered everything very much. We will not try to convince you of the need for an app, but we know that having a mobile site is not enough. The apps themselves take your engagement with customers to the next level, and given the competition in the industry, you should make the most of your mobile feature.

The ideal application should have the following characteristics:

  • Ergonomic design, intuitive user interface

  • Careful choice of basic features

  • Brand consistency

  • Cross-platform compatibility (iOS, Android, etc.)

  • Convenient booking options

  • News – local and industry related

  • Analytics at the back end

  • Photo Gallery / Virtual Tour

  • Floor plan

  • Loyalty program integration

  • Event calendar

  • Flight information, weather updates, dynamics

  • Prompt social sharing network

As technology is becoming more personal and mobile, your participation in the hospitality industry should not be left behind. Although these suggestions are comprehensive, consider applying a few (if not all) of them to know what kind of boost you receive in your post – personal experience is the best teacher.

All that said and done, really mobile sharing allows you to interact with your guests in a personalized, more active manner, which questions your brand image. Plus, it also lets you rise above the competitive mess, which looks like a win for me!