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In The News
Hotels: Improve Guest Experiences with Self-Service Mobile Applications

May 18, 2009

Published by NextGen Self Service.
Written by Brian Deagan


It has been a long day. After traveling 1,000 miles across the country, navigating an unfamiliar airport, collecting the checked baggage, flagging down a cab that actually takes a credit card, and enduring a 30-minute ride from the airport to a hotel, fatigue is an understatement. Instead of heading straight to a room at a hotel -- a hotel that positions itself as luxurious and attentive to every need -- a guest must stand in a slow moving line for 15-minutes just to get to the counter where they wait another 10-minutes to get checked in, a room key, and a brief overview of the various amenities available (that falls on tired ears). It is a common story. The last thing a weary traveler wants to do is wait, yet it comes standard with any hotel guest experience. Fortunately, there is good news for hoteliers. Easy, effective mobile tactics put a guest in charge of their own experience, fostering loyalty in them while creating opportunities for the hotel to up-sell. Here are a few mobile programs available right now that can begin improving the guest experience and building long-term value.

Effective Mobile Tactic #1: Express Mobile Check-In First things first, getting a guest through the door and into their room faster is accomplished with an express mobile check-in. When a guest opts-in to the express mobile check-in during the booking process they receive a text message that includes a unique number or bar/QR code to bypass check-in lines. Inputting the number into the guest management system or scanning the bar/QR code gives the system the information it needs to quickly process the check in and provide room keys, reducing wait time while giving the travel-weary guest immediate access to their room.

Effective Mobile Tactic #2: On-Property Mobile Coupons Once the guest is inside, the next focus for a mobile program is to improve the overall guest experience. Hotels that have a restaurant or gift shop on-property should send opted-in guests a coupon for discounts on appetizers or a buy-one-get-one-free offer for the gift shop. For larger resort hotels this tactic proves especially useful because it effectively informs guests of what is available before they leave and spend their money off-property. Providing real-time coupons to guests helps drive traffic to existing investments and provides the guest with useful information that makes their stay more pleasant.

Effective Mobile Tactic #3: Amenity Alerts Whether a property has standard amenities like a pool and Continental breakfast -- or full restaurants, bars, spas, and shopping -- simply alerting guests to what is available on property builds the hotel's value and provides the guest with a useful service. A stay becomes even more pleasant when a guest is able to book a spa appointment from a mobile alert or simply receive the hours for the gym to better plan their day.

Effective Mobile Tactic #4: Express Mobile Check-Out Like the express mobile check-in, setting up the check-out process through a mobile dialogue is simple and a time-saver for departing guests. A guest can easily check out by texting "check out" to the hotel's shortcode and leaving their key in the room. They receive a text back verifying the check out, automatically opting them out of the mobile service they took part in while on the property.

When thinking about implementing a mobile program, it is important to understand that it does not matter if your property has 180 beds or 1,800 beds -- these tactics work for all property types. One way to ensure the success of these programs is to put the necessary resources behind them to make guests aware of their availability. Informing guests they can opt-in to the mobile programs with signage in the lobby, a table tent on the desk in the room, or by placing the shortcode in the online booking engine are effective ways to generate opt-ins. It is also important to demonstrate respect for guest privacy by communicating that the opt-out is automatic upon check out.

Achieving real, lasting guest self-service requires a mobile software platform that removes the technological, software development, and integration hurdles that have historically prevented this useful technology from creating guest value. A good integration between software and guest management systems is crucial, and the right provider makes that fact a cornerstone of their pitch. The better the systems integration is, the more opportunities exist for the expansion of initiatives in the future.

Hotel guests always have a mobile device handy. The time is right to open the mobile communication channel and empower guests with cutting edge, mobile self-service.

About the author: Brian Deagan is the co-founder and CEO of Knotice, a direct digital marketing solutions company that includes mobile marketing. Contact him at bdeagan@knotice.com For more information about Knotice visit http://www.knotice.com or their blog http://lunchpail.knotice.com.

About Knotice
Knotice (pronounced "notice") maximizes the ROI of direct digital marketing interactive marketing communications that can be addressed to a specific individual through process automation, increased relevance and improved performance. Working with clients throughout North America, Knotice guides marketers toward efficient, effective application of highly-targeted marketing communications over today's primary digital channels. Founded in 2003, Knotice is headquartered in Akron, Ohio, along the banks of the Ohio-Erie Canal. For more information visit http://www.knotice.com.


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