A Blog by INTELITY

At Your Service

Presenting the latest innovation and trends in hospitality technology and the products that are revolutionizing the service industry.

hotel app

How Hotels Are Using Technology to Gain a Competitive Advantage

Contributed by Kacey Bradley

The world of business is inherently competitive. Every industry has companies trying to rise to the top, which means impressing consumers by learning what they want and finding ways to make those things happen seamlessly. Businesses that invest in delivering on consumer expectations typically see an increase in brand loyalty, which leads to an increase in revenue.

This characteristic is especially true of the hospitality industry. When guests stay at a hotel, they’re looking for a place where they feel comfortable, safe, and have access to the conveniences they’re accustomed to in their daily lives, and hotels are in a race to perfect this.

Technology has become a key component in giving one hotel an edge over another, especially with the increasing popularity of a digital-first approach among travelers. By implementing the right tech, hotels can impress guests, streamline operations, and generate more revenue. It’s critical for hoteliers to stay current with technological advancements, so they can keep pace with expectations.

Mobile devices are the easiest and best way to reach guests- the average hotel guest checks in with at least three mobile devices. Today’s travelers depend on them to provide information and easy access to essential features in their lives. Using mobile technology allows hoteliers to meet their guests where they’re already engaged.

Here are five types of technology that can give a property a competitive advantage:

1. A Branded App

Mobile apps are the perfect solution for engaging guests before, during, and after their stay, especially when integrated with a property’s existing loyalty program. Mobile app technology can also be beneficial in gaining insight into guest satisfaction and guest preferences, which can be used to improve the quality or types of services offered.

An app can track the most common types of guest requests, dining metrics and which menu items are the most popular, and how often they’re using the app to communicate with hotel staff. Management teams can use this information as a framework for making better business decisions and taking guest service to the next level.

2. Mobile Check-In

Mobile check-in is highly sought after by today’s self-service driven travelers. Giving your guests the ability to bypass the front desk not only enhances the guest experience, but it also frees up staff, allowing them to spend more time providing personalized guest service. Offering mobile check-in also incentivizes guests to download your property’s mobile app, which creates a further opportunity for upselling, pre-arrival communication, and to generally craft exceptional experiences.

3. Mobile Key

Major brands, like Hilton and Marriott, have already implemented a form of keyless entry into their hotels and its quickly becoming the leading hotel technology trend. Implementing mobile key technology provides guests the convenience of reducing time at the front desk and prevents guests from ever losing or forgetting their room key. Mobile key technology also saves hotels money on printing costs and increases efficiencies because staff don’t have to spend time printing keycards or replacing lost room keys.

4. In-Room Tablets

In-room tablets provide guests with easy access to hotel information and the ability to place service requests, order room service, control the in-room environment, and communicate with hotel staff. These digital compendiums can also be used to create upselling opportunities and promote upgrades and other special offers targeted to a guest’s preferences.

5. Voice-Controlled Rooms

Another popular technology hotels are embracing is voice. Guests can use this technology to turn on lights, control the TV, adjust the thermostat, and more. Voice technology can also be used to submit guest requests, make reservations, and provide guests with information about the local area. While voice technology may not be as necessary as some of the mobile technologies available, it plays a large role in enhancing the guest experience.

Staying ahead of the competition and remaining relevant is important in an industry as competitive as the hospitality industry. Successfully implementing the right technologies is an easy way to distinguish yourself from your competitors and cater to today’s tech-savvy travelers. Hospitality technology can change how guests experience a hotel and lead to repeat guests, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth referrals.

To learn more about how you can use hospitality technology to gain a competitive advantage, contact the experts at INTELITY to schedule a demo.

3 Reasons To Download New Hotel Tech App by INTELITY

Our team is excited to be attending HITEC for another year, and this year the event is taking place in New Orleans, one of the most soulful cities in the U.S. In preparation for the trade show, we’ve unveiled a new hotel app, but this one is especially for hoteliers and those interested in hotel technology. Here are 3 reasons to add this app to your smartphone before you head to New Orleans on June 20.

Regular Updates on Hotel Guest Technology News

There are a ton of news updates and announcements coming out right now. This app will provide some of the highlights for your convenience, all in one location. Stay informed about our newest products and features such as Mobile Key, which you can also try out with your own smartphone in our booth by downloading this App.

Mix Business and Pleasure in New Orleans

HITEC isn’t just about demos and business meetings. It’s a great opportunity to stop by various social events, such as the annual party thrown by Samsung. We’ll announce some of the top social events so you can add them to your schedule.

You can also do a bit of sightseeing or souvenir shopping throughout New Orleans with our virtual mobile concierge suggestions on the best city attractions. Built-in maps also provide you with directions on how to get from your hotel to the Convention Center, the airport, or other locations, such as restaurants.

Speaking of restaurants, we’ve partnered with a number of local restaurants to provide our App users with exclusive discounts. By showing the app at any of these partners, you’ll receive a discount on your meal.

Daily Giveaways (And Not Just Regular Tchotchkes)

We’re giving out more than just pens and flash drives in our booth this year. You could leave with a number of cool prizes, co-sponsored by our partners, Guestware and ASSA ABLOY Hospitality. We’ll be sending some lucky HITEC attendees home with a GoPro video camera, Samsung touchscreen tablet, or a cruise getaway.

Download new Hotel Tech App to register today, and you’ll get an extra entry in this drawing if you bring a business card to our booth, #1345, from June 21-23 during exhibition hours.

For more information on our app, schedule a one-on-one meeting with a member of our team to learn more about our innovative solutions to enhance your guest service and engagement.

Hotel App Marketing Benefits Through Social Media, Deep Linking and Mobile Ads

Hotel apps stand to benefit from more strategic mobile advertising.

Good news for mobile hotel apps. Total app downloads from both Google’s Play Store and the iOS App Store increased 8.2 percent in Q1 of 2015 over the previous year, with more than 17 billion downloads total. Mobile users are also spending more time using apps in general, much more than they spend browsing mobile websites at 90 percent of the total mobile time.

That said, the mobile app business is still as competitive as ever with so many apps vying for space on user devices. App ads are definitely worth it for any brand that wants to stand out, especially for those in categories with a higher rate of abandonment. Travel apps lead all categories in customer churn, which means hotel app marketing has to evolve to become more strategic in order to actively engage users.

Luckily, mobile ads for hotel app marketing are graduating into new territory, with social media channels driving a lot of benefits.

Total app downloads from both Google’s Play Store and the iOS App Store topped 17 billion.

Snapchat

Snapchat is newly emerging as a viable mobile ad platform. It’s currently a better platform for brands looking to start gaining visibility with younger audiences, especially since it was just crowned as the most popular social media channel with U.S. teens.

Conversion through the app is incredibly simple, though, and this platform is definitely one to watch. With features like live coverage of major events, like award ceremonies, news events and music festivals, and partnerships with publishers like the Wall Street Journal, it could be a big draw in the future for a broader demographic.

Facebook & Instagram

Facebook and Instagram are powerhouse platforms when it comes to mobile app ads. You can’t deny the viability of Facebook as an advertising platform when 72 percent of online U.S. adults use it. But these two platforms have great value specific to app advertising. At the end of 2015, it was reported that app ads on these two channels drove growth in downloads of 196 percent.

Instagram alone was responsible of more than a fifth of total clicks on app install ads. That’s pretty phenomenal, especially when you also consider the bonus tidbit that customer acquisition cost is lower on Instagram than other channels.

Twitter

A few years ago Twitter announced some really nifty app marketing campaign features. Structured like other CPAC campaigns, app ads (called App Cards) appear organically within users’ tweet feeds and provide conversion analytics. The good part is that App Cards have a natural, less obtrusive feel. The bad part is that it can be easy for users who are quickly scrolling through a cluttered feed to pass right by these ads.

Still, Twitter reports that more than 80 percent of its users are on mobile, which means it’s a great channel to consider for mobile app advertisements. And the Twitter Ads back-end platform for businesses has great tools and analytics to measure the success of hotel app marketing through this channel.

Google & Apple

Beyond the social media players, Google and Apple will both likely soon offer paid in-store search options for iOS and Android, a big help to the cause of hotel app marketing for differentiating a brand or individual hotel app from the very crowded stores.

And the Google AdWords Search Trial Run Ads are also on the horizon after successful testing. Mobile users can try out an app before actually downloading. Hopefully, it’ll increase user retention if people can actually see what they’re getting in advance.

The Link Between Hospitality Technology and Establishing Hotel Guest Loyalty

A majority of travelers are not loyal to a hotel brand. How can hospitality technology improve the state of hotel guest loyalty?

One of the top challenges faced by hospitality marketers, apart from increasing revenue, is better connecting with and engaging hotel guests. Customer experience has become one of the most important considerations for a business, and the hospitality industry is no exception. Hotel guest loyalty is built upon satisfying guest experiences, and the benefits of establishing guest loyalty are plentiful.

For one, it’s a well-known business principle that keeping existing customers is less costly than attracting new ones. Additionally, word-of-mouth and advocacy marketing are among the strongest tools for gaining new business, particularly among hospitality where online reviews are an active part of the pre-booking phase for many potential guests.

Increasing hotel guest loyalty is a major challenge for the modern hospitality industry. About two-thirds (64 percent) of leisure travelers and more than half of business travelers are not loyal to any one hotel brand.

Hospitality technology is beginning to come to the forefront of the hotel guest loyalty conversation. One of the top technology investment in 2014 was for solutions to improve the customer or guest experience, and investments in this area are projected to rise. It’s with good reason that hotels are looking for technology to manage guest experience and relationships.

No longer are there only one or two lines of communication that hotels have to monitor for guest feedback. Now hotel guests are constantly sharing online reviews and feedback through any number of communication channels. From social media to online review sites to blogs, the conversation never stops, creating a never-ending need for businesses to monitor what’s being said.

More travelers (39%) prefer to stay in hotels that know about them compared with hotels that don’t (21%).

Developments within hospitality technology allow management to proactively strategize in order to create fluid two-way communication with guests for improved hospitality brand perception. Creating direct channels for guests to communicate directly with hotel management and staff allows hoteliers to receive instant feedback rather than waiting for guests to post something negative once they’ve left a property. It also helps hotels build a connection with guests that leads to long-term loyalty.

Hotel mobile apps or text messaging services can serve as a convenient bridge to hotel guests. An increasing number of guests carry a personal mobile device and are enthusiastic to use these or complimentary hotel touchscreen kiosks or in-room tablets for active digital engagement with hotel staff.

Mobile guest apps can embed such features as digital comment cards. They can also provide insight into guest behavior and preferences that can be leveraged to increase hotel guest satisfaction and loyalty. This is critical for appealing to modern travelers, who place value on personalized guest experiences.

More travelers (39%) prefer to stay in hotels that know about them and their preferences compared with hotels that don’t (21%). Guests want to know that their hotel is attentively listening to them in order to create a more positive, engaged experience. Thirty-six percent of Millennials and 37% of travelers age 35 to 54 are willing to share personal information in return for valuable benefits such as personal touches in their room.

Investing in the right hospitality technology systems can help hotel management better connect with guests in order to actively improve the guest experience. By doing so, the hospitality industry will find that it is able to better establish hotel guest loyalty in the future.

To learn more about how you can use hospitality technology to create guest loyalty, schedule a demo with a member of our team.

Scoring a Touchdown with Mobile Guest Service Technology

For the hospitality industry, being competitive when it comes to attracting guests and gaining their loyalty has never been more important, but it is also more of a challenge in this digitally obsessed age with tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, and other devices, which are all increasing in prevalence. Creating a winning strategy with guests has been taken to the next level, and your digital playbook has to be top notch to keep guest satisfaction high. Still, scoring a touchdown with guest service mobile technology does not have to involve a large number of gadgets.

In 2013, a Forrester survey emphasized the importance of using mobile technology to reach guests in the hospitality industry. According to the survey,

“74 percent of business leaders view mobile as a major priority. In fact, since 2009, the number of leisure travelers using their mobile devices for travel has increased by more than 450%.”

Hospitality businesses that want to stay relevant to guests should invest in and implement systems that allow customers to use appropriate digital channels to improve their stay. The modern traveler’s needs have adapted to require a more sophisticated and personalized touch, and making it to the end zone can be as simple as making a touchdown pass to your guests where they spend a significant amount of time making travel arrangements and connecting with brands – mobile devices.

Sports fans know that a football game begins even before the teams set foot on the gridiron on game day, and similarly, cultivating an intimate connection with your guests begins before they step foot on your property for a stay. Certain software, such as INTELITY’s hospitality technology platform, gives guests the ability to communicate preferences and service requests before their stay to allow you to better meet their needs. Anticipating the needs of your guests by using this information strategically will assist in establishing your brand identity as one that prioritizes service, a sure way to earn points toward building loyalty.

One of the newer mobile features that can provide an extra conversion point for your digital strategy is giving guests the ease of checking in via mobile in order to skip the traditional check-in, such as standing in a long line at the front desk. Mobile key entry, pre-arrival services, mobile check-in are just the beginning of how innovation can change your relationship with guests.

Technology that helps the guest make the most of their stay or makes the guest room a true oasis is also vital. In-room tablets can provide access to a variety of services and benefits to improve guestroom experiences, such as automated room environment controls, digital wake-up calls, and mobile room service orders, as well as immediately transmitting requests to staff for expedited response. Beefing up your digital strategy also affords the opportunity to electronically gather data that allows you to analyze and track the areas your business can improve to ensure everyone who leaves your hotel is a true fan.

Implementing cutting-edge hospitality technology to supplement your hotel’s repertoire of strategic guest service plays is key to winning a ring rather than losing out to your competition. So avoid fumbling the ball and step up your digital game when it comes to engaging with guests on an impactful level by utilizing technology to its fullest potential.

2016 Look Ahead: Resort Management Executive

staySky Resort Management provides a full menu of services encompassing all aspects of hospitality property operations, including human resource management, accounting, marketing, purchasing, centralized reservations, information technology.

Vice President Sandy Wade has worked in sales, marketing and operational leadership positions for Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank UK, Virgin Holidays Worldwide, Access USA, and Integra Resort Management. With 20 years in the hospitality industry, Sandy is recognized as a sales, marketing and management leader with expertise in global revenue generation through domestic and international distribution channels.

Here she speaks about her observations about the impact of technology on the industry.

How does your company currently utilize guest technology?

We are present in all of the prominent social media channels to make sure we can provide our guests with fast and efficient customer service. We answer 100% of the reviews guests write about our properties and we have a weekly meeting to discuss the opportunities for improvement mentioned in online reviews. We also have an incentive program in place to congratulate and reward our hard-working staff for their outstanding job when they are mentioned by name in a review. We engage with guests when they mention un on a tweet, tag us, check-in online at our property, ask us direct questions online or post about us in the various social media channels.

Does it differ depending on the property’s target market?

Not really. Most travelers are now using technology to make sure they can have a flawless vacation experience. It doesn’t matter how different the demographics are for each target market; they’re all becoming travel savvy and taking advantage of online resources.

Which technologies do you enjoy or benefit from using most during your own travel?

Mobile technology and online resources. Looking at online reviews, travel blogs, Pinterest boards, and online forums is the best way to get the real scoop of what a hotel is like, what the best transportation option is and how to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to amenities.

Digital surveys provide a real opportunity to impress our guests and hear their thoughts before they post any negative feedback online.

Which hotel technologies are you most excited by or interested in for the future?

Travel websites such as Expedia now allow guests to send instant feedback to hotels of how their stay is going. Surveys are sent to the guest that share their email at check-in, so guests can share their private and honest feedback with us while they are still at our property. That gives us the opportunity to try to turn that guest’s experience around if they happen to mention having any issues during their stay. Before this technology came around, all a hotel could do was apologize for their shortcomings. Now we have a real opportunity to impress our guests and hear their thoughts before they post any negative feedback online.

Most of your company’s properties are based in central Florida. How do you think this region’s hospitality market differs from the nation when it comes to views on or adoption of hotel technology?

Florida is a hospitality giant, so people expect greatness. The theme parks in Orlando definitely set a high standard of service and innovative technology, so businesses are forced to meet those standards if they want to remain relevant and competitive. I believe guests’ expectation in Florida far exceed the expectation a guest would have if traveling to a remote part of the country where tourism isn’t the main focus.

What would you say is the biggest impact technology has had on the hospitality and travel industries within the past 5 years?

Mobile technology and social media have completely changed the travel industry. You can now price check hotels, airline tickets, and attraction tickets on the go, right from your phone. You can also read about other guests’ experience at the hotel you are looking to stay and have a better idea of what to expect. Hotels rarely get walk-ins anymore, because guests usually research prices and amenities using online travel agents like Expedia and Booking.com before even stepping foot in a hotel lobby. So when they arrive they already know how much your rate is, what it’s included in the rate and what guests are saying about your property.

Most people, regardless of their age, are using technology during their travel journey.

How greatly do you think the impact of technology on the travel journey differs depending on age?

Younger users tend to be more active on a variety of social media channels, ranging from microblogs to travel online forums. That allows them to have more information and resources during their travel journey. That usually means more savings and a smoother travel experience. But even if indirectly, most travelers are benefiting from technology when traveling. Whether it is using a GPS device or asking friends for travel tips on a quick Facebook “survey,” most people, regardless of their age, are using technology during their travel journey.

What are your predictions for industry trends that will improve or impact guest experience in 2016?

Wow, that’s a tough one…there are so many opportunities for guests to interact with hotels. I think we’ll see more use of apps while in-house, which will allow guests to order room service, request extra pillows or towels, and check out all from your phone.