Developing Your Digital Guest Strategy
By David Tossell Vice President, DataArt | December 28, 2014
Part 2 of a series of 5 articles on the digital guest experience
There are apps that have been stealing revenue for years from hotels - Foursquare, Urban Spoon, Yelp, and similar apps. (See my earlier article 5 Apps That Look to Steal Revenue From Your Hotel ). Enabling this reality is that the majority of customers show up on hotels' doorsteps with their mobile devices in hand loaded with these types of apps.
While there will always be guests who return to your property at the end of the day, those guests who might be tempted to explore outside your property are relying more and more on apps offering location and contextually driven. However, you can fight back with a "Digital Guest Experience" strategy.
Recent Developments in Digital Guest Experience
Since Part 1 of this article was written, the new product introductions impacting the digital guest experience have been remarkable:
- Starwood (Sheraton, Westin, aloft, element and "W" hotel chains), has enabled over 30,000 room locks in more than 150 hotels so they can be unlocked with the SPG app.
- Hilton has committed to having the majority of its 650,000 hotel rooms enabled with guests being able to use their smartphone as their room key by the end of 2016. Plus, by the end of 2014, digital check-in and room selection will be available at more than 4,000 Hilton Worldwide properties across 11 brands in 80-plus countries. Digital checkout is currently available at all US hotels and will be rolled-out globally by end of 2016.
- HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank presented a vision at the 2014 Phocuswright conference in which their app integrates Lyft, Spotify, keyless entry technology and Grubhub.
- Nor1 eReach platform was the runner-up at the Phocuswright Travel Innovation Summit. eReach enables hotels, airlines and third-party sources to actively merchandise services that increases revenue and enhances the customer experience. Nor1 has signed-up Sabre's TripCase (an itinerary management app) that will push contextually relevant offers to users as they travel.
One truth is certainly clear - the pace of development in the digital guest experience only continues to accelerate. And, without finding a way to leverage technology, hoteliers run the risk of further losing control of their guest and seeing increased revenue erosion as apps promote off-property options.