Mobilizing the Hotel Enterprise for Advanced Guest Service: Mobile Enablement Beyond the Front Desk
Guest post by Mukund Mohan, Hospitality Industry Strategist, Infor
To enhance guest satisfaction, many of the top chains are building a B2C (business-to-consumer) mobile strategy by making all or most of their internal applications available on a mobile platform. We all know what mobility is and some of its obvious benefits. In fact, most of you probably use mobile solutions in your personal life. What may or may not surprise you, though, is that mobility is outpacing the internet adoption rate of the 90s. The hospitality industry is embracing mobile technology more quickly than almost any other industry. Hotels are using mobile technology to move to the next level of guest services and to speed efficiency. The demand is really two-fold:
Strategy 1: Addressing the guest
Mobility is changing the way guests interact with software. The adoption of mobile applications is far exceeding the pace of adoption for the original web-booking engines and self-service web sites that were introduced years ago for online commerce. Surveys show that guests prefer to use mobile devices to communicate with their preferred businesses, rather than calling and speaking to a service agent. In the hospitality industry, it’s all about speed, and allowing guests to choose their preferred mode of communication with their selected businesses wins and keeps customers.
Strategy 2: Empowering the staff
We all know that hospitality has one of the highest turnover percentages in any industry. This is partially due to the age and career phase of employees. Basically, most hospitality employees are young. For many, hospitality may be their first professional job out of college; or they might be using a hospitality job to help pay for college. Smartphones and tablets are the norm for their daily life. Most of you and the other leadership at your hotel are also tied to smartphones. As a result, having ability to work the same way we live is important. We all expect to be able to do our jobs from anywhere we are—not just from behind a check-in counter.
Do you have a mobility strategy?
It’s easy to say that you’re going to jump on the mobility bandwagon, but you need to have a plan in place and take a few things into consideration before going mobile.
- Do you have a mobility strategy in place? If so, who is driving it?
Many enterprises start their mobile plan the same way consumers do—they see a cool app, download it, start using it, and get others in the organization to use it. While that’s innovative and might work for something as simple as finding your company’s favorite iPad PowerPoint app, it may not be the best method for consolidating and viewing financials or performing operational tasks like check-in and check-out. Also, before you get too far down the “rogue iPad app path,” you may want to consider who drives your strategy and how they make decisions. Some apps may provide some fancy features, look cool, and get one department what they need, but over time you don’t want to miss basic functionality that would deliver significant results.
Infor recommends that you develop a strategy for the enterprise and designate one group of advisors to drive the strategy. The team should definitely include someone who is an app addict; this will let you take advantage of the app knowledge that members of your staff have gained through personal use.
- Who are the target users of your mobility program? Guests? Employees? Partners or others?
The answer might be obvious, but what may not be most obvious is to consider their needs together. Find vendors that can support your overall strategy. One vendor may supply a great guest app, where another has a great employee app, but a guest app that still needs work. It would be ideal to find a vendor that has great options for bothIf you can’t, consider a vendor that has offering for both guests and employees, with plans to improve the weaker app to meet your needs. Think about future growth and supportability. Obviously, you’ll also want to understand what’s offered for the various devices and what the development platform is to support your strategy long term.
Lastly, when looking at employees, think outside the traditional. The most obvious mobility candidates are guest-facing employees, but what about internal employees? For example, think about making your finance team or maybe HR mobile. How fast could they react to the demands of change if they could make adjustments, approve invoices, process employee requests, or adjust employee profiles from anywhere? What if your sales people could pull up profiles and availability from a client site? Would that help them close a deal.
- What platforms and devices are currently under consideration for your mobility program? Is the focus on HTML 5 or native apps?
If an app needs to work when a device is offline, you’ll want native apps. Native (designed specially to run on a device’s operating system) is also more beneficial when data updates are required into an enterprise application, such as your property management system.
How do you see mobility improving the guest experience? Please leave a comment to this post with your thoughts and ideas.