Mobile technologies in hospitality and tourism: pros and cons

Advances in mobile technology make us more and more addicted. Choose a restaurant in a few minutes? You are welcome! Find out where your favorite dish is the cheapest? No problems! Social networks, instant messengers, websites, e-mail, applications – all this is used by entrepreneurial companies to their advantage. Here are some of the methods that can be used in the hospitality industry.

Target mobile devices

Just a few years ago, photos of the hotel posted online were a huge plus. Today, active Internet users not only require high-quality photos, but also that they be adapted for mobile devices (tablets, phones). According to the Media scope study, by March 2017, 71% of the population began to use the Internet in Russia, and 54% of the population go online not only from computers, but also from mobile devices. At the same time, over the previous year, the number of people using stationary computers decreased by 4%. This means that the hotel’s website must have a mobile version, and even better – its own application.

Expert commentary: Vasilis Maturin, head of sales at Videolike: “Whether you need to create an application for a hotel or not, it depends on the segment. If the hotel belongs to a large chain, the traveler, having downloaded the application once, can use it in any other hotel of this chain. Now all major networks already have their own applications. In non-chain hotels, applications are rarely downloaded by tourists now. In my opinion, it is most popular and profitable to make their own applications for hotels located in the resort area, where people come to rest for 1-2 weeks and can order, for example, a massage session while lying on a sun lounger. Small hotels can now develop their web service. Today, everything goes to the fact that the cost of developing mobile applications is decreasing. ”

Digital concierge

The first place where a modern traveler goes to get to know the city is … the Internet! According to the statistics of requests for the last month alone, users have searched for “sights of St. Petersburg” 57,676 times. Of these, 33,030 – from a stationary computer, 24,656 – from mobile devices. “Sights of Moscow” interested 41 761 people, of which requests from a PC – 22 873, and from tablets or smartphones – 18 888. Another popular request – “St. Petersburg restaurants”: there were 87 099 people who wanted to eat tasty food, of which they searched 35 463 people, from mobile – 51 636. In Moscow, the situation is as follows for this request: 340 805 requests in total, of which 164 905 and 175 900 are from PCs and tablets / smartphones, respectively. As you can see, requests from mobile devices already exceed requests from PCs, and this trend will continue in the future.

Offer guests their own mobile app – a digital concierge that includes information about attractions, restaurants and other points of interest for the traveler. If the hotel has established connections with restaurants or entertainment centers, you can negotiate with the establishments to provide discounts to the users of the application.

Some companies offer the use of so-called “cloud concierge” services, that is, the hotel connects to the system for a certain monthly fee and creates a profile of its own concierge that guests can use.

Expert commentary: Alexander Becker, Business Development Director, Hotel Remote Control:

“The main advantages of a cloud service are that the guest has a choice of where to view information. According to our statistics, sales of value-added services were up 100-200% compared to last year, when the hotel had a cloud concierge. The cloud service works using a subscription model, which is especially convenient for small hotels that cannot allocate a large amount for a new sales channel. You can evaluate the effectiveness of this channel literally at the first stages.  If we talk about the development of a separate application, then – yes, chain hotels need it. It is not profitable for the owners of small hotels, since it requires significant investments – at the initial stage, it may require from 600 thousand rubles. Subsequently, this amount can reach up to 4 million rubles. Of course, we are talking about the development of a high-quality application, because modern users are spoiled and demand exactly quality. Should hotels develop in this direction? Certainly! ”

stay in touch

Make the guest feel that they and any question they ask are important to you. According to the VimpelCom rating, WhatsApp has become the most popular messenger among Russians – more than 68% of the country’s residents use it. Viber is slightly less popular – 45% installed it, while Skype and Telegram are convenient for 17.9% and 7.5%, respectively. The main advantages of instant messengers: you have the client’s phone number (this is a more reliable way of communication than email); the ability to see if your message has been read; privacy; the ability to send not only text, but also graphic information, location, audio and calls; low cost – the cost of messages is cheaper than sending SMS. It is convenient for hotels and travel agencies to use these channels for consultation, booking reminders or informing about special offers and promotions.

Expert commentary: Ekaterina Anton ova, director of customer experience at OneTwoTrip:

“Despite the fact that the phone call is still the leading channel, messengers are steadily gaining momentum and significantly increasing their share every month. Since last year, we have been using all popular communication channels for customer support: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, VK, Telegram, Viber, Skype and a free call from the site. The most popular among our clients are WhatsApp, Telegram and VK. Also, the use of Binger as an integrator of communication tools with clients allowed us to launch support for all messengers in our application.

By the way, instant messengers are a convenient communication tool not only for customers, but also for support staff. It is convenient to conduct a dialogue, besides, the employee can immediately see the previous correspondence with the client. However, there are also disadvantages: if the client does not immediately provide the details of the order or booking, then it takes time to clarify, for example, by phone, the details can be asked immediately. Despite this, it is a profitable communication channel for the company, since it is possible to conduct several dialogues with different customers at the same time, which significantly increases the speed of service.

Messenger support is good for all companies, regardless of industry and firm size. If the company has customer support, then it should work in the channels where the client lives. ”

Summarizing all of the above, we can say with confidence that it is necessary to introduce mobile technologies: they will allow you to master new sales channels and increase customer loyalty.