Mobile is the Most Important Part of Your Hotel’s Guest Engagement Strategy – Here’s Why

In 2018, fashion retailers saw an increase in mobile shopping compared to desktop, meaning what is likely to be a trend across industries (sales cycle). Fifty-one (51%) percent of online fashion purchases were made through a mobile device, while computers accounted for only 42.9%. In terms of demographics, 75% of shoppers aged 18-34 bought clothes on smartphones, compared to 51% of those aged 35-54. When it comes to travel booking, however, the patterns are very different. Although 41% of travel searches happen via mobile, only 18.3% of travel conversions happen on mobile, a far lower percentage than other industries. Other sources, such as Phocuswrightreport mobile bookings up 30%, notably still below average.

This disparity raises many questions about digital strategies in hospitality. The first is, of course, why aren’t hotels converting to mobile? The industry is quick to say that a hotel stay is a high consideration purchase, which is more likely to happen on desktop than on mobile. But look at Carvana: For millennials shopping at Carvana, nearly 30% complete the entire car buying transaction via mobile, from finding a vehicle to financing, says Ryan Keeton, co- company founder (DigitalCommerce360). For other demographic groups, it’s about 20%. Car buyers are even scheduling their vehicles to be delivered via a mobile app, and users report that Carvana is delivering on its promise to make car shopping fun again. As much as it is a car dealership, Carvana is also a technology company, investing in automotive imaging platforms and AI technology to streamline the buying process.

Bottom Line: Very complicated or expensive purchases can and will be made through websites and mobile apps; however, the user experience should be well designed and highly functional. Tech-savvy companies across all industries are leading the way for consumers.

The second important question: does mobile or desktop really matter as long as hotels get direct bookings? According to Skift, the most important finding of the 2017 JD Power and Associates North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index study was “Pay more attention to mobile.” The report found that hotels that use mobile apps and features have higher guest satisfaction. Research has shown that people who use mobile shopping apps buy more than they otherwise would, and over 18 months, customers who downloaded a retailer’s branded app spent 30% more on store (The conversation). (Conversely, poor app performance, apps that load information too slowly, or crash frequently tend to deter online purchases and in-person spending.) hotel is becoming obsolete. The mobile app, however, can track the guest throughout their journey. Mobile features allow hotels to increase sales of in-room services, spa appointments, golf times and other amenities – some estimate up to 20%. Mobile also improves customer service, allowing customers to skip front desk queues and request essential services, such as housekeeping, via two-way chat. Convenience matters. Consider that when Starbucks introduced mobile app ordering, which allowed customers to order and pay online and then skip the physical queue at the store, 20% of their transactions moved online.

The takeaway: While customers value mobile booking capabilities, digital strategies need to go beyond booking to reach customers throughout the journey.

Another critical question to ask about the mobile hotel experience is how do we move customers to mobile in the same way the fashion and retail industry has? We want customers to do more than search via mobile. We want them to continue to engage throughout their lifecycle through a mobile device, improving their experience (shorter welcome lines, location-based messaging while on property, etc.). ) while reaping operational benefits (more efficient interdepartmental communication, less burden on reception, etc.). And customers want to use mobile as much as possible.

Hotels need to invest in user experience, upgrade, integrate and add the ideal features for target audiences. Additionally, hotels that are getting ahead with mobile are thinking about the entire guest journey to take advantage of the mobile website, mobile apps, text and chat, and features. This may include mobile check-in and check-out, mobile keys, two-way messaging, reservations, room service orders, etc. Every step of the customer’s journey through the property provides an opportunity to better serve the customer, engage them, and generate revenue. Creating and optimizing mobile experiences must necessarily be followed by promotion. While guests are eager to use mobile offerings, hotels have lagged behind other industries and guests will not assume the availability or benefits of mobile engagement with a property unless they are explicitly informed and encouraged to use it.

The Takeaway: A “build it, and they will come” attitude doesn’t work for hotel guests. Not only do hotels need to pay close attention to interfaces and functionality, but promotion is equally essential.

the 2018 Customer Engagement Technology Annual Study, sponsored by Hospitality Technology, found that customers wanted 24 different mobile features and hotels consistently provided only three. More than half of guests want to be able to make reservations, check in and out via their mobile, view property maps, read/post reviews, request service, retrieve invoices, edit/manage reservations , pay, receive and redeem coupons, book, grant travel, control rooms, choose rooms and buy/redeem gift cards. Eighty percent (80%) of hotels offer mobile bookings, but in all of these other categories, hotels are underperforming, meaning that a much lower percentage of hotels offer mobile functionality than the rate of customers who want it.

Customers want a better mobile experience than that offered by hotels. Moving the needle towards not only more mobile bookings, but also towards a better overall mobile customer experience – one that will follow the customer throughout the stay – requires better user interfaces, more functionality and marketing strategies that will give customers the awareness and confidence to use them.

About Runtriz™

Runtriz delivers magic moments using an open customer service platform that enables customer service amplification. We strive to improve both the staff and customer service experience to optimize their time. With over 2000 hotels in 120 countries spanning over 50 languages, Runtriz has the knowledge and experience to support your hotels digital and guest engagement goals. We help our partners improve customer service results by delivering what today’s customers want. For more information or to request a demo, go to runtriz.com.

Kasandra J. Stone