Wondering how to run a hotel profitably?…read on…
While all industries rely on creating a good customer experience and providing quality products and services, if we had to pinpoint one industry that most heavily relies on this feature of customer service, it would be the hospitality industry. By providing services that are not up to the mark and consequently losing the goodwill of its customers, hotels and resorts face a huge possibility of failure as their success depends on fulfilling the demands of their guests; in other words, being as “hospitable” as possible.
In such a case, it is no wonder that it has become a priority for the industry to adapt to all new trends that come up during this fast-paced technologically-led environment we live in. And no one can contest that mobile apps and technology are one of the biggest trends today, especially for service-oriented industries. With the “app-generation”, automation is rising up and users want everything accessible through their phones, not just because of the ease of use but also because of the discomfort that comes with direct interaction today. There are now apps for everything, from ordering food to calling a cab, and users are not used to making calls or face-to-face interactions anymore.
Indeed, anything that involves personal interaction has a chance of scaring customers away due to this resistance to unwanted social contact. Thus, it has become a priority for the hospitality industry to look after this need and provide alternate methods involving the least amount of effort involved so that they do not lose customers who would otherwise make use of their services. In an example of such automation, hotels increasingly started to automate the TVs provided in rooms to make in-hotel services and activities—such as ordering room service, scheduling spa sessions, controlling room devices like AC, lights, etc., and even checking-out of the room—accessible to users without having to call the reception. This still leaves the booking and check-in services for consideration, a space that was filled by booking services and aggregators that let users browse and book rooms by filtering their search on apps and websites.
However, this presents a problem to hotels in that users have less chance of becoming brand loyal when presented with other options while booking, making it easy to stray to another hotel that might be cheaper or offering a better deal.
Dedicated mobile apps
Many major hotels have come up with rewards programs and their dedicated apps that offer users points and advantages for their loyalty to their brand. Some hotels have taken it a step further and capitalized on this trend of apps by creating their own apps for booking and payments. Still, a need exists for further innovation. Hotels are experimenting with different ways mobile can help them entice customers to use their services by making things as simple and painless for their guests as possible. One up-and-coming trend is that of the mobile key, which enables customers in using a digital key available on their mobiles to enter their rooms without having to keep track of their keycards.
In fact, the best thing for hotels right now is to create one single app for their hotel that does everything, offering end-to-end services from checking-in to booking hotel services to checking-out. Major hotel chains have already started implementing this model, and it’s now time for other brands to also jump on this bandwagon before they get left behind.
It is critical for hotels to make the mobile experience for users as seamless and simple as possible, keeping their apps free of complicated processes and dead ends to make sure users do not have to put in much effort to understand what they have to do or they are likely to give up on that app and go somewhere else. They must anticipate the users’ needs and ensure that features matching those needs are accessible on the mobile app as well as easy to operate. Another priority is to ensure that, while the website should be optimized for mobile browsers, it leads directly to the mobile app so that customers would be less likely to book with another service having already downloaded the app. Even if they do not end up booking, this would also enable push notifications to keep the brand in users’ minds and nudge them towards various deals from time-to-time.
Above all, they must make sure that both the design and copy is simple, effective, and goes with the message they are trying to give to their users. Apps that are do not look attractive are less likely to convince users to using the hotel’s services, simply because it represents what they think their experience with the hotel would be like.
Whether the hotel has an app or not, mobile marketing should nevertheless be a priority. And it is not just their own apps hotels need to focus on, but social networking apps too. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. have become a most important part of a user’s travel decisions, especially with the rise of Instagram influencers.
Too many hotels focus on merely pushing ads on these platforms and neglect the power of organic marketing, while others create content upon content but neglect to push them with paid advertising. They must strike a balance between the two to properly market their services to the public. What is most important for the hospitality industry is to focus on reaching out to their audience through content and paid marketing, then focus on maintaining relationships with this audience by not only providing quality content but also responding to their feedback, queries, etc. and interact with them using social networking apps. In an age where guest reviews and feedback are front and centre in the customers’ research while making booking decisions, the best marketing advice for hotels is to focus on creating positive interactions with their guests.
This can be through interacting with them in the comments sections of Facebook and Instagram, responding to their tweets and reviews, collaborating with Instagram influencers, and even interacting with them through chatbots or messaging platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
It is clear that mobiles have become a priority in the industry, and rightfully so. It is safe to assume that there might come a day where the customer experience will be fully mobile-based, and hotels must start moving towards that stage and stop wondering how to run a hotel successfully.
Ram Gupta, a hotel management graduate, is a certified Hotel Administrator from U.S. and MIH from U.K. He has over 4 decades of sound experience in the Hospitality industry in India, U.A.E, U.K, Europe and Japan and is well versed with all areas of business including acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures, diversification, strategic planning, development and operations. He has been associated with over two dozen luxury and boutique hotel projects and has launched two hotel chains in India. He is currently an independent hotel consultant and could be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.bcgglobal.com
- ISBN-10: 1647339138
- ISBN-13: 978-1647339135