by WEX Travel
More and more people are turning to digital solutions for added assurance and convenience. Vacation and business travelers are on an existential search for tools that can lend ease to their trip planning–keeping logistics in place while not imposing on their experience–at the lowest possible cost.
The hospitality industry is embracing mobile technology, prompting hotel brands to employ their own or third-party concierge solutions. With this new approach, resorts can better encourage room service options and personalized guest stays thanks to direct access to staff. Further, a sleek mobile option provides hoteliers with the platform to better strengthen their brand. Hotels are adapting to this change, boosting a shift in the way hospitality companies communicate and operate.
Meeting Consumer Demand
One of these hotels is Preferred Hotels & Resorts, which recently partnered with American Express to create a mobile app that allows members to search and book stays, access exclusive offers such as member rates and the iPrefer Last-Minute Escapes, update their profiles, view past/upcoming stay history and related points earnings, as well as redeem Reward Certificates.
The hotel brand created its new app due to resounding demand. Consumers expressed increasing desire to manage travel plans directly from their smartphones, while making sure they’re getting the best deal possible. With a mobile app, Preferred Hotels & Resorts can provide time-saving, value-rich functionality that will enhance the overall visitor experience–before, during and after every stay.
“The new mobile app and member rate program are designed to better connect today’s travelers with the unique appeal of the independent hotel experience through a seamless loyalty program that delivers exclusive, on-the-go access to an attractive rate, points and valuable on-property perks,” said Casey Ueberroth, Chief Marketing Officer, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, on bwhotelier.com. “These enhancements are a testament to our continuous commitment to making iPrefer the most compelling loyalty program for independent-minded travelers.”
Recognizing the need to cater to the growing preference for on-the-go travel planning, Preferred Hotels & Resorts looked to a 2016 study by Google that addressed how people use their phones to travel. Here’s what they found:
- 60% of smartphone users stated they prefer using a mobile app versus a desktop to manage their loyalty program activities
- 41% of these smartphone users favor using an app to book their hotel accommodations
Crafting a Guest Experience
A plethora of capabilities to drive commerce within hotels exists in platforms, which can be built into the brand’s application. Apps bring with them convenient features, such as poolside ordering and express checkout, that are sure to win over guests. These mood-elevating features help hoteliers to increase long-term loyalty with their properties, and hopefully spark positive reviews that will drive in new business.
Some hotel brands have the infrastructure and talent to develop their own concierge solutions; however, there are an array of third-party vendors out there to give even the smallest of these brands a first-class concierge app. And this may be the best bet, as vendors can introduce advertising opportunities within the solution itself.
It’s not one size fits all–hospitality brands can create what they need based on their business needs. For instance, Hyatt Regency Bellevue’s Connect CMS platform gives guests the opportunity to contact a staff member via text messaging for dining reservations. The hotel brand turned to this option to provide a more direct and personable experience for guests. The sheer ease of making a reservation can sway consumers from going for offsite meals, and may in turn boost spending inside the property.
Hotel Tech Spending Keeps Guests Connected provides more insights into how hotels are answering customers’ technology needs.
According to Gary Schwarts, CEO and president of Impact Mobile, New York, hotels often forget that mobile technology is a means to an end – and the end is the mobile consumer. “Whether you are a mall, sports team or even municipality, getting into the consumer's circle-of-trust and eliminating barriers are crucial,” he said. “This channel gets a 98% open rate and response within seconds.” See mobilemarketer.com for more.
Ways to Utilize Concierge Technology
“There is an Uber for everything now,” the Wall Street Journal wrote in 2015. Looking at booking platforms such as the restaurant industry’s OpenTable and entertainment’s Ticketmaster, the growing trend in guests serving as their own concierges thanks to advancements in tech.
Technology will no doubt support the traveler of the future. The “Golden Keys” have been handed over–gone is the day when the hotel concierge holds access to the perks and luxury guests crave. Now, all guests have to do is reach for their smartphone. A new model must be created for the concierge. And from recent developments and emerging trends, it’s evident that it is one in which convenience is achieve through technology.
Learn how to Build a Mobile Booking Site that Customers Will Use.
Let’s look at how mobile advancement will further rewrite the role of the concierge, as explained at HospitalityNet…
- Project Management: Concierges are responsible for managing itineraries and accommodating the planning that's needed often months in advance, as well as in the split seconds after a request is made. Apps help hotel brands to facilitate the “right now” requests–to add value hotel concierges need to master project management software to offer added value for consumer’s longer-range planning. Find out how to Win Customers By Offering Flexible Travel Options.
- Communication: Technological advancements need to ensure that customers can more easily communicate with hotel concierges in the ways that are most natural. Methods of communication has greatly changed in the past 10 years–no longer are people making phone calls, instead, they’re using messaging platforms. Get to know the humanoid concierge in Helping Hands: Robots in the Travel Industry.
- Information Curation: The world is in a time of information overload. With the influx of online booking, travel agencies suffered. This is changing now, as consumers are looking to professionals to sort through the numerous options available to them. In fact, the number of travel advisors is set to grow 10% through 2020. Explore this trend in What Will Drive Consumers to Traditional Travel Agents in 2017?
- Personalization: It’s all about connection. Making guests feel special and valued is the key to establishing brand loyalty. The future of the guest experience is a highly personal one – and the hotels that succeed in recognizing guests as individuals and best understand how they enjoy traveling will thrive. Learn more in It’s All About Me: Personalization in Leisure Travel and For Today’s Business Traveler, Technology Remains Key to Productivity.