The hotels that will be most successful tomorrow will be those that provide services and experiences to their guests via their mobile devices, asserts a new report published last week by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Titled "Hospitality Direction: Spotlight on Connected Devices," the report points out that 75 percent of mobile users currently have smartphones; as a result, it says: "Today's nice-to-have tech options will soon become tomorrow's necessities in the hypercompetitive hospitality environment."
PwC surveyed asset managers representing 3,500 hotels and resorts and found that two-thirds think mobile check-in will be the norm by 2017. Beyond that, PwC observes, the next step will be boosting "guest stickiness" by providing personalized experiences via mobile channels. Hotels can begin that process now, it says, by:
• Deepening their knowledge of customer preferences by tracking guests from booking until checkout.
"Based on that data, hotels can offer incentives for future visits, such as a rebate for a particular service or discounted room rates at certain times of year," PwC said.
• Tapping into guest preferenceswhile they're at a property.
"For example, hotels can anticipate their guests' drink preferences or provide extra bed linens, based on previous behavior and selections," explained PwC, which said guests in their rooms could browse complimentary amenities and make requests from an in-room tablet, or could use their own devices in other areas of the hotel to make real-time requests leveraging guest-enabled GPS tracking.
• Combining social listening with customer-tracking data for guest insights before, during and after their stay.
"Social media offers deep insights into guest behavior -- from the minute a guest thinks about travel and asks for recommendations, to his or her comments and photographs both during and after the stay," PwC said.
• Addressing privacy and security issues.
"Nearly 75 percent of consumers are willing to share some personal information if they get something in return, such as personalized, location-specific information on restaurants, theaters, shops and cultural events," PwC reported, adding that hotels will need to continue to maintain guest trust while moving to mobile-enabled benefits, such as keyless entry with mobile keys.
Concludes PwC: "The new generation of travelers expects increasingly personalized experiences on their mobile devices. Mobile technology offers that personalization by providing a timely, convenient bridge to complement communication between people -- both associates and guests. Brands that provide a consistently superior experience by leveraging their guests' mobile connectivity are not only able to remain relevant, they can also strengthen guest loyalty, motivate return visits, increase average daily rate (ADR), and drive incremental hotel revenue."