The word mobility conjures up numerous thoughts among leaders of hospitality and travel organizations. It could mean something as common as having a cell phone, to a comprehensive guest-centric mobile strategy spanning multiple channels. When we stop to reflect on the ways mobility has changed the approach organizations take, and the role personal consumer devices play, in brand engagement, we see that travel and hospitality companies offer a variety of products and experiences that typically require guests to do pre-planning prior to purchase. Consumers ask: What will we do? Where will we stay? Where will we eat? What type of room is best for our needs?
In the past several years, the hospitality industry has seen the booking lead time shrink substantially. Today’s traveler may book a reservation the same day they are traveling. With this trend, mobility has played a substantial role in assisting travel and hospitality brands, get information to their guests in a real-time fashion. It is important to understand what the guest is seeking from their mobile device and how they prefer to interact with the products offered by hotels, resorts, entertainment venues, and amusement parks.
"For the hospitality industry, it is important to have a robust, mobile rendered web-booking engine that is intuitive and responsive"
Robust mobile technology
For the hospitality industry, it is important to have a robust, mobile rendered web-booking engine that is intuitive and responsive, for which the guest can interact and should have real-time integration to a property management reservation system. As the journey map of the guest is evaluated, a majority of email content that is sent pre-arrival will be read on a mobile device. The impacts of mobility and technology on hospitality organizations are being felt once the guest arrives in a variety of ways. From the moment a guest arrives on property, mobile is integral in the experience. For example, the future of the check-in process lies in the physical door lock system that hotels typically interface with the property’s reservation system. While many organizations are preparing for it, some of the major players in the industry are already leveraging this technology. Hotels across the industry are working with door lock vendors, property management systems, and integration partners to deliver this key benefit to a guest allowing them to go directly to their room and bypass the front desk check-in process. Another impact mobility has on the hospitality industry is the number of mobile devices that each traveler carries has increased. Bring an entire family to a hotel with all or most of the family carrying a device, it pushes hotel wireless networks to the brink. Information Technology departments are working with operational partners across the hospitality industry to constantly upgrade wireless networks and bandwidth to give the guest the “at-home” experiences on their mobile devices. These devices are accessing social channels, uploading videos from the day’s events and streaming TV shows that may have been missed.
In the entertainment industry, mobility has greatly impacted the guest experience. As a guest is exploring an event or attraction, it must be easily viewed, and specifically provide easy interaction. With the constant challenge of trying to get guests through the gates to “get to the fun fast,” a mobile strategy must include some aspect of mobile ticketing options to bypass standing in lines to purchase tickets and head right to redemption. With the very high probability that at least one family member has a mobile device, organizations must find unique ways to engage families while on property. The creation of an app that runs on a mobile device allows rich content to be accessed by guests. An app can include wait times for attractions, detailed information about each attraction, entertainment venues and offerings, closest food locations, and other pertinent information. With the app running, and notifications enabled, this allows organizations to reach guests in new ways. We are able to push notifications within the app to our guests about product offerings and informational content. Texting for offers has also gained momentum in the industry by engaging guests to text a number for information, coupons, and employee job opportunities throughout an organization.
The impact of mobile continues to alter strategy for high guest capacity areas across organizations, concerning cellular coverage. Locations within entertainment and resort areas that have a very large occupancy in a close proximity, such as concert venues, arenas, and convention centers, are working with cellular carriers to install Distributed Antennae Systems across properties to ensure the guest experience is not hindered by having no connectivity. In a recent concert within one of our venues, the act asked everyone to breakout their phone and turn on their flashlight app. Ten years ago, that would have been everyone pulling out his or her lighter. That particular concert had 85 percent of the attendance simultaneously using their data service, which requires operational and IT departments to work with partners such as cellular providers to ensure service delivery of cellular networks to our guests. Organizations are making financial decisions regarding whether or not to invest in owned cellular capacity or work with leasing companies that will install the infrastructure needed to accomplish this complex need.
Aligning with evolving mobile devices
As technology in mobile devices continue to evolve, the hospitality and travel industry will continue to make enhancements to provide improved functionality on enhancing the guest journey and how that guest interacts with the brand or product. Email, texting, and app push notifications are the future of brand to guest communication channels, all courtesy of an evolving consumer mobile technology industry. The upfront effort to incorporate mobile as part of a business strategy to engage guests will have a payback, along with providing robust data and analytics that will help drive business decisions.