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There's a school of thought that
eventually it will be 'app in, app out' to
a hotel without any interaction with a
reservations or guest services team but
the reality is that hotels are still heavily reliant
on human interaction. Where apps can help is
by providing options. Instead of being forced
to check-in at the front desk, guests can select
their preferred check-in option. Think of the
ways airlines now work as far as check-in and
boarding. It's all about giving people a choice.
Some hotels, such as Grand Hyatt in Hong
Kong, are going so far as to provide guests with
a mobile phone on arrival that becomes their
room key, their in-room compendium, their room
service menu and ordering facility, as well as a
web-enabled phone that guests can redirect their
phone number to while they are in the destination.
A recent report on millennial travellers
commissioned by Oracle found that millennials'
use of mobile devices in hotels and restaurants
is more pervasive than many in the industry
may have thought. It found that 39 per cent
of millennials have already ordered food and
beverages through their mobile devices, and a
fifth have already used their smartphones to
check-in to a hotel. In many cases, particularly
with loyalty programs in restaurants and room
service in hotels, millennials want to use their
smartphones and tablets even more, suggesting
demand is outpacing current service availability.
The beauty of a well-designed app is that it can
provide people with an alternative payment option.
Rather than carrying cash or a credit card, guests
can order and pay for everything through an
app that is linked to their credit card or payment
source (i.e. PayPal). In a similar way to Uber, this
removes one step from the usual payment process
and also provides valuable data to the owner of
the app in terms of guest's purchasing behaviours.
That data can then be applied to subsequent
bookings. For example, if a guest bought a
particular bottle of wine in the hotel's restaurant or
bar on their first visit, their mini-bar could feature
that exact same wine the next time they visit.
One of the most hotly contested areas in the
digital space for hotels is how to get cut-
through with a loyalty program. Apps can help
with this as they track a person's movements
within a brand family. Rather than having an
app for an individual property or country, it
makes a lot more sense to have a global app that
then tracks consumer behaviour and incentivises
personalised purchases around the world.
Loyalty is no longer about burning
through some points for a free night. It's
about personalisation of experiences. Loyalty
members want to feel as though you know
their preferences from them so whether it's a
push notification welcoming them back to the
hotel and telling them about relevant deals (i.e.
if they went to the spa last time, offer them a
discount now that they're back in-house).
One caveat; push notifications need to be
managed carefully. It shouldn't just be a broad
brush strokes 'free pizza in the bar' notification.
Starbucks in Japan does it well when they
send a push notification offering to 'sponsor'
a business meeting with two-for-one coffees
because they know that this customer came in
and bought six coffees at 9am once before. It all
comes down to tailoring the offer.
What many people don't consider is how useful
a back-of-house or human resources focused
app can be in terms of managing tasks and
workforce requirements. Millennial employees
are generally very comfortable with messaging
and scheduling apps so it makes sense to
apply this to the eternally nightmarish area of
rostering casual and part-time shifts.
Apps can also assist with rostering forecasting
and real time management of workforce. n
CHRISTOPHER ADAMS, Vice President, Food and Beverage, JAPAC,
Oracle Hospitality shares his top five features every consumer facing guest
app should have include:
1. Stay management - covering all guest touchpoints from reservation to
check-in/check-out. This also includes promotional rates and packages
based on stay preferences (targeted offerings) and post-stay surveys on
2. Loyalty - this covers benefits such as inclusions, upgrades and points tracking.
3. In-room services - this includes accessing hotel services such as room service, phone
controls such as VOIP, lights, air conditioning, wake-up calls and Concierge services such
as taxis and directions.
4. Social media integration - Facebook, Trip Advisor, Instagram etc -- this allows for further
5. Key management -- BLE technology has enabled smart door locks to be opened by RFID
or NFC options.
With the rise of the millennial traveller, apps have become an
increasingly powerful tool when it comes to check-in, guest services
and loyalty programs. EMMA CASTLE finds out what every
hotelier needs to know in order to upgrade their app o ering.
With the rise of Bring Your Own Device
(BYOD) technology, a lot of guests want
to 'cast' from their Smartphones to a
Bluetooth speaker or TV. Plug-in devices
like Google Cast are a simple addition
to a room but one that will make a big
difference to a millennial traveller.
44 HM The Business of Accommodation
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