Calling on the power of mobile apps in the Hospitality Industry:

In my prior post I discussed a few applications of social media in the hospitality industry. The post ended with an infographic illustration of this topic which provided, amongst other points, some important statistics associated with mobile use, which includes:

  • By 2015 9 out of 10 consumers will have mobile phones
  • 29% of travelers have found flight plans via mobile apps
  • 30% of travelers have found hotel deals via mobile apps
  • 85% of travelers use their smartphones while they travel
  • 46% of travelers check into a location while on vacation using apps such as Facebook and Foursquare.
  • Top Five Uses of smartphones while traveling include: taking pictures, using maps, searching for restaurants, searching for activities and/or attractions and checking in prior to flying.

Source: http://www.besthospitalitydegrees.com/social-media/

There is no denying that mobile applications are all the trend these days, especially when it comes to ways for companies to better interact directly with their target consumers, something which is key in the hospitality industry. Similar to social media, the hospitality has taken to and fully embraced the power of mobile apps as yet another tool to socialize directly with and learn from their target consumers. While this holds true to all the subsectors in this industry, the focus for this post will be around the hotel and restaurant subsectors.

Hotels:

When it comes to the hotel industry, most if not all of the major chains have their own mobile apps which allow the consumers to perform various tasks, such as search for rates, booking, communicating with the hotels, etc. The benefits of having mobile apps are clear, and include:

  • Appealing more to Gen Y or time conscious travelers (e.g. business travlers), who prefer self-service. Mobile apps give these demographics the ability to do so, such as bypassing the front desk to access the room faster.
  • Catering to the Instant gratification generation – Apps such as “i-Guest have the capacity to transact a plethora of services, including mobile check-in/check-out, housekeeping requests, room service ordering, requesting valet parking or scheduling spa or restaurant reservations — all possible without the guest having to chat on the phone or being inconvenienced by needing to visit the front desk” (Davidson).
  • Greater staff efficiency through mobile technology – As Chris Davidson suggests in his article in the Hotel Business Review “As guests are becoming more autonomous during their stay by leveraging the use of their mobile devices, hoteliers can also deploy personnel much more efficiently. With fewer guest-staff interactions needed, hotel employees can be more attentive to tasks at hand, and remain more customer focused, while requiring fewer workers to be on the job at any given time” (Davidson). Another benefit, according to Davidson is that “Hoteliers can also benefit greatly from apps that include a housekeeping scheduling function, which can help prevent frustrating guests with maid service at inconvenient times, ensuring guest satisfaction. (Davidson)”
  • Using Mobile apps to strengthen brand awareness and brand loyalty – Davidson provides yet another example in which the apps help contributing to the overall brand. “Modern-design hotels use apps in lieu of compendia, providing a comprehensive collection of relevant hotel information that is both browseable at the guests’ convenience and interactive, not to mention sleek. There is practically no limit to the amount of information a hotel can put into such a digital compendium — plus unlimited images that highlight revenue-generating aspects of the property — allowing the hotel to communicate its offerings in a non-static way that is easily digestible and completely thorough. (Davidson).”

The two following YouTube videos below provide some additional insights into why mobile apps are important and how hotels are making use of these apps:

Restaurants:

For Restaurants, the available apps seem to be endless. Many of them circle around giving the users the ability to find restaurants near their location, provide comments / reviews on the restaurants and the food they just had, share pictures, etc.

The Daily Meal (thedailymeal.com) provides a slide show of the leading 22 restaurant apps:

http://www.thedailymeal.com/22-best-free-restaurant-apps-slideshow

Of those, some of the well-know ones might include Zagat, Urbanspoon and Yelp, which according to an article from Stephanie Crawford, ranked as some of the top 5 restaurant apps (http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/destinations/travel-guide/tips/5-phone-apps-for-finding-restaurants.htm#page=1)

Other apps, such as Chownow, allow for online ordering and helps connect between consumers and various online content, such as a restaurant’s menu, Facebook page and website. Apps such as Tabbedout give consumers the ability to “open a tab”, pay and “close the tab” by entering credit card information. Other apps such as Diner Connection let consumers sign in and let’s them know when their table is ready (Shih, 2012).

The following YouTube further illustrates the use and importance of mobile apps when it comes to the restaurant subsector:


Final thoughts:

So, when it comes to the hospitality and mobile apps, you can see, the possibilities are endless. And, from the nature of the industry, personally, I feel that these are all considered social in nature. After all, being social is the basis of the hospitality industry, and the source of its revenue.

As always, I will leave you with a few infographics that further illustrate the importance and use of mobile apps in this amazing industry:

infographics-on-hospitality-mobile-apps-e1378399892809
Infographic-Mobile-And-Social-Optimization-For-Hotels35-top-restaurant-apps-infographic
The source websites to each of these can be found once you press on the infographic illustration.

Additional Reading:

For Hotels:

http://www.hotelscheap.org/discount-travel-blog/planning-your-trip/25-best-web-apps-sites-for-travel

http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4061490.html

http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Article/11006/Mobile-tablet-apps-could-change-industry

http://her-consulting.com/5-reasons-mobile-app/

http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/3313/hospitality-is-on-the-move-how-mobile-apps-are-empowering-guests-and-boosting-hotels-bottom-lines

http://inventorspot.com/articles/top_five_hotel_mobile_apps_32924

http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/best-smart-phone-hotel-apps

For Restaurants:

http://lifehacker.com/5852314/five-best-restaurant-discovery-apps

http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/retail/6-mobile-restaurant-apps-1080812/

 

References:

Davidson, C. (n.d.). Hospitality is on the Move – How Mobile Apps are Empowering Guests and Boosting Hotels’ Bottom Lines, by Chris Davidson. HotelExecutivecom Daily Headlines. Retrieved July 23, 2014, from http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/3313/hospitality-is-on-the-move-how-mobile-apps-are-empowering-guests-and-boosting-hotels-bottom-lines

Shih, S. (2012). 6 Mobile Apps Restaurant Owners Should Know About. 6 Mobile Apps Restaurant Owners Should Know About. Retrieved July 23, 2014, from http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/retail/6-mobile-restaurant-apps-1080812/

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Social Media in the Hospitality Industry:

One of the industries that has done a great job in embracing and taking to social media has been the hospitality industry. While many other industries view social media as purely a marketing tool, one they can use to 1) converse directly with their target market and promote their products, services and brands, and 2) learn about their target consumers and their buying behaviors, the hospitality industry has done a great job in using social media in a variety of ways to build customer loyalty and product / brand awareness.

Here are just a few examples of how the hospitality industry has been thinking outside the box, and made great use of various social media tools:

  • Extending Concierge Services: Having the concierge use a social media tool such as twitter might allow him to communicate with guests from their guest rooms, prior to their arrival, while they are out and about touring the area. In using such a tool, they can also see other guest’s Q&A with the concierge, some of which might answer their own questions or provide them with ideas of things to see and/or do during their stay
  • Customer Service: Hoteliers can customize their customer service, going above and beyond and provide their guests with a personalized feel. The hotel / restaurants can offer personalized promotions / gifts to those that sign in to the hotel or restaurant via tools such as Facebook or Foursquare. Restaurants, for example, can also take to go orders via Twitter. All of these are geared to make the customer feel like they are getting personalized attention.
  • Story telling: Another way to use social media is to have the guests of the hotel or patrons of the restaurant help tell the story of the establishment, be it via Facebook, YouTube, Flicker, or blogs. One example of this is the Roger Smith hotel that has embraced this method, as can be seen in the following YouTube video.
  • Last Minute Deals: Yet another way for the hospitality industry to use social media, especially for hotels or for flights, is to promote last minute deals.
  • Facilitating Guest Communities: Guests at hotels that are members in the hotel chain program might elect to share tips and advice as it relates to the hotels they stayed at, restaurants they ate at, or places they visited, in order to make the stay of their co-members benefit from this information, which they themselves one day might find of use from another member such as themselves.
  • Emphasizing Unique Properties: Both hotels and restaurants can make use of social media in a traditional (and some may say cheap) way, and market and promote their property via social media tools such as Flicker, YouTube, etc. An example of this is the way Hilton used YouTube to market their hotels. Others might use tools such as Twitter to share promotional information for their properties.
  • On Site Merchandizing: Combining the strength of social media with that of the mobile world, such as geo-location feature of an individual based on his cell phone. A hotel or restaurant can use this to provide certain promotional gifts, such as free drinks, or gifts if and when someone walks into the establishment.

The following Infographic from Best Hospitality Degrees provides a quick snapshot on some of the examples raised above as well as some important factors to keep in mind for this industry:

 hospitality

Source: http://www.besthospitalitydegrees.com/social-media/

What about you, have you used social media while traveling or dining out?

Have you stayed at a hotel or dined at a restaurant that made use of social media in a way that was unique and caught your attention?

If so, share your story.

Additional Recommended Reading:

http://socialhospitality.com/category/topics/social_media/

http://www.traveldailynews.com/news/article/57405

http://www.wihphotels.com/publication/is-social-media-the-future-of-hotel-marketing/

References / Source data:

http://mashable.com/2010/05/24/hospitality-social-media/

http://mashable.com/2010/10/18/hotel-industry-social-media/

 

Comparing Social Media Tools

What industry are you in? What Social Media (“SM”) tools do you use in your business? Do you know the differences between the various SM tools currently available?

It seems like there are endless SM tools you can choose from to promote your business and/or “socialize” with your target market. Understanding the key differences between the current leading SM tools is key if you want to use these tools in a successful manner. Below are two images I found in some of my research in this topic:

Social_Media_Marketing_Comparison_chart

Source: http://www.sbmarketingtools.com/comparison-chart-for-choosing-between-top-social-media-sites-for-marketing/

Social-infographic1

Source: https://leveragenewagemedia.com/blog/social-media-infographic/

The images above provide some key facts and differences between the current leading SM tools. If history has taught us anything, it is that leading SM tools come and go. (Curtis, 2013) So, while this information is important, it is even more important to keep a figure on the pulse of SM trends.

Additionally, it is also important to choose the SM tools that are 1) most applicable to your industry and 2) most applicable to the target market you are trying to market to.

Based on the size of market you want to market to, the demographics (i.e. age, sex, household income, etc.) some tools may be better to use than others (e.g. if you are wanting to target more of the female demographic, you may consider Pinterest, if you want to aim to market to specific groups, you may prefer to use Google+ that has “social circles”, if you are looking for more of a visual SM tool, you may consider Instagram). Since each tool has unique attributes and attract different users, using a number of tools together (i.e. a portfolio of SM tools) might make most sense.

In future posts we will discuss which tools are most applicable to the hospitality industry (including hotels and restaurants) and how best to use them.

Please share your thoughts on:

  1. What industries you work in?
  2. What SM tools you tend to use most and why?

References:

Dr. Curtis, Anthony (2013). The Brief history of Social Media. Retrieved on July 12, 2014 from http://www2.uncp.edu/home/acurtis/NewMedia/SocialMedia/SocialMediaHistory.html