Hoteliers, I have a question for you: What does it mean to have a mobile guest experience?
Increasingly, mobile platforms driven by powerful digital analytics are reshaping hotel operations and the guest experience. Technology is empowering hoteliers to find new ways to combine traditional high-touch service with the convenience and accessibility of mobile to reimagine the concept of hospitality and the guest journey. And this new concept is being defined by 27/7 convenience, deep personalization, and a frictionless guest journey.
But what makes a hotel truly mobile-optimized? Can your property be truly mobile if large sections of your guests’ journey are facilitated through traditional platforms? Can you really maximize service, revenue and guest loyalty if mobility only covers half of your guests’ journey?
Can a “hotel divided” really stand in a mobile-first world?
The Future is Now and the Future is Mobile
Mobility has revolutionized the world of hospitality. From booking, to check-in, to post-stay, guest journeys are expected to be hyper-personalized and completely seamless 一 Modern guests want to get what they want when they want it.
Mobile PMSs were first adopted because they offered a more convenient and personalized alternative to traditional check-in methods at the front desk. The mobile PMS reimagined the check-in/out process, giving guests the option of checking-in via their mobile phone, a smart-kiosk in the lobby, or through a friendly staff member aided by a tablet. Now, guests can completely bypass the traditionally long lines to the front desk. They can check-in, order upgrades or amenities, unlock their door and communicate with hotel staff 一 all through the mobile phone in their hand.
But revolutionizing check-in is just the start. Mobility lets guest address any issues quickly, via the communication pathway of their choice, while hoteliers can continuously aggregate and apply the data gleaned from mobile to personalize each interaction. Some hotel brands even offer the ability to sync a guest’s room entertainment with music, shows, and movies a guest has stored on their mobile device.
Mobile PMS platforms offer the opportunity for an operational makeover that improves staff productivity and personalized service. Empowered employees that can provide faster and more valuable services to guests in-store serve to increase the value of your brand promise. And this same mobile technology can also provide managers with data 24/7 anywhere on property to access guest preferences and monitor performance. It is within this model, that staff can be more responsive, attentive, and interact freely with guests. Empowered by a mobile PMS, in tandem with self-service technology for guests such as apps and kiosks, guests are granted complete control over their stay. As more routine tasks like check-in and payments increasingly lend themselves to automation, hotels have a golden opportunity to move staff attention away from transactions into where they can provide more personal attention to guests.
Elevating the Guest Journey With a Digital Wallet
But as powerful as a mobile PMS can be, it can’t do everything alone. The guest journey is comprised of a myriad of micro-moments, and front-end enhancements to the guest experience must be facilitated by a number of interrelated technological platforms and operational processes on the back-end. One of the most important of these is payments: Even the most streamlined mobile check-in process can be derailed if guests are forced into pay through traditional, non-mobile means.
While disruptive digital wallets such as Paypal or Apple Pay have been increasing in popularity, hotels have struggled to fully integrate multiple digital wallets. According to Hospitality Technology's research, almost half of hotels (45%) plan to upgrade or change point-of-sale suppliers in the coming year, and 51% of guests say they want mobile payment...while only 23% of hotels currently offer the technology.
And this is where the master digital wallet comes into play. Today’s master digital wallets can integrate multiple payment methods into a hotel’s booking engine, POS and PMS, turing the guest journey into a frictionless end-to-end experience. When combined with a mobile PMS, master digital wallets have the ability to dramatically increase guest convenience, personalization, engagement and loyalty.
With a master digital wallet, guests will be able to make nearly all on-property transactions in real-time from their mobile device, including room service, amenity upgrades, and folio settlement. With the emergence of ‘channel master’ technology, hoteliers are able to integrate their master digital wallet with their PMS to support the many mobile wallets on the market (MasterPass, Apple Pay, Visa Checkout, PayPal, etc.). Credit card information is stored in a streamlined fashion, allowing them to order room service, pay in restaurants or for experiences, make purchases at grab-and-go counters, and more on the fly.
Dynamic Duo: Combining a Mobile PMS with a Master Digital Wallet
A master digital wallet creates a digital portal that provides guests with everything they need to interact with their hotel. Guests are empowered to book their stay, check-in/out, communicate with staff, review their reservation details, upgrade or book experiences, make payments, and collect rewards all via their mobile device. Even better, travelers are able to order and pay ahead of time, view bills live on their device, reorder items or services they love, tip and choose preferred payment methods, all while the hotel property learns more about that guest. And seeing that electronic transaction receipts are preferred by the majority of guests (58% would even pay a premium), it becomes a win-win to offer a more environmentally friendly option.
Speed and quality are becoming such significant factors in customer experiences; they can make or break consumer loyalty. Today's independent guest expects a frictionless journey. Leveraging a full-service mobile PMS with the power of a master digital wallet adds additional convenience and personalization for each guest, ensuring your property is able to optimize all aspects of the guest journey.
About the Author
Nicole Dehler, Vice President of Product Management
StayNTouch, A Shiji Group Brand
Nicole spent more than 12 years in the Regional Divisions of MICROS Systems, divided between Product and Project Management of Property, Sales Force and Central Reservations Systems. She led the Enterprise Team in Asia Pacific as Director of Operations, looking after large scale software implementations as well as managing the regional launch of E-Commerce products and Smartphone applications. Nicole joined StayNTouch in early 2013, spearheading the PMS development, strategy, innovation and growth from the very beginning.
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