The digital transformation of the hotel industry was coming (slowly but surely) anyway, but then Covid-19 happened. Now, suddenly, more hotel guests than ever expect self-serve, on-the-go options throughout their entire travel journey. Hospitality Technology’s 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study found:
- 53% of surveyed travelers want to book a hotel from a mobile device.
- 47% of travelers want mobile hotel check-in/out.
- 55% of travelers want to stream their own content to the guestroom TV.
From researching accommodation options to ordering room service, approximately half your guests want to manage their stay on mobile. It’s simply more convenient (and safer during a pandemic)—for both your guests and your staff.
With an automated property management system (PMS) like WebRezPro, it isn’t hard to give your guests the kind of seamless, mobile experience they want.
The face of your business online, your property’s website should be as welcoming as your front desk. Your website’s user experience can make or break a booking.
Because mobile is the primary device for travel planning in most parts of the world, a mobile-friendly website is key to more bookings, whether guests end up booking through your website or calling instead. According to Google, 79% of travelers made a booking after doing research on their smartphone.
A website that loads fast and is easy to read and navigate on mobile will appeal to potential guests much more than a slow, cluttered one you need a magnifying glass to read. Aim for a simple design with stand-out property photography, inspiring written content, and the right calls to action to convert more lookers into bookers on any device.
A website built with responsive design will automatically detect and adjust to the device it is being viewed on so that you can be sure it delivers a great user experience across all devices.
A very important component of your property’s website, your online booking engine must also be mobile friendly. (Remember, 53% of travelers want to book on mobile!)
A mobile-friendly booking engine is one that is easy to access from any page of your website—via the main menu and/or call-to-action buttons—and easy to use on a mobile phone screen. The booking process should be quick and simple, with easy-to-read text and tap-friendly form fields and menus.
An online booking engine that is built with responsive design will serve travel bookers well on both desktop and mobile, and across operating systems. Gain your customers’ trust with a system that is customizable to your brand and offers secure SSL encryption to protect their data.
Make sure your online booking engine is integrated with your property management system so that it always reflects live availability to prevent overbookings and disappointed guests.
Integrate it with your property’s Facebook page too. (There’s a call to action on your Facebook page that can be set up as a “book now” button that takes users directly to your online booking engine.) Social media is predominantly accessed via mobile, so if a potential guest is on your Facebook page, chances are they’re using a mobile device. If they suddenly get the urge to book, you want to make sure your mobile-friendly booking engine is right there for them.
If guests are already researching and booking your hotel on mobile, well done! But it doesn’t end there. We’re talking about creating a seamless mobile experience throughout the entire guest journey because that’s what guests want (or at least half of them do!).
A booking can be the start of a loyal customer relationship, depending on the quality of service and communication that follows.
Approximately 60% of emails are opened on a mobile device, so ensure your guest communications are optimized for mobile users. That starts with your booking confirmation email and goes for pre-arrival, check-in, in-stay, and post-stay communications too.
Communicating reservation and property information to guests and providing them with opportunities to personalize their stay is important throughout the guest cycle. Doing it right includes making your messaging mobile friendly.
Again, a system that’s built with responsive design technology—whether that’s your PMS, CRM or other email marketing software—will deliver emails that are easy to read on any device. Ensure the system is integrated with your reservation software so that routine emails can be automatically personalized and triggered at the right time for every guest.
Consider integrating a guest messaging application with your PMS to communicate with your guests the same way they communicate with their friends and family—by SMS or instant messaging. Mobile messaging is shown to increase guest engagement, ancillary revenue (upsells), and guest satisfaction.
If you haven’t already implemented guest self-check-in, wait no more—it’s easier than you think! In response to the pandemic and industry demand, many PMS providers have built contactless check-in features into their software and/or offer integrations with third-party self-check-in solutions.
Convenient and efficient and the way going forward, offering a self-check-in option to guests makes sense any way you look at it. It’s more sustainable too, eliminating the need for printed check-in receipts and plastic keycards.
Emailing self-check-in instructions to guests prior to arrival helps guests feel confident and prepared to check in online. And by automating your check-in communications using reservation data, you can ensure every guest receives check-in instructions at the right time, whether check-in communications are sent from your PMS or from an integrated third-party solution. WebRezPro ensures no guest slips through the cracks by tracking uncompleted online guest registrations so that staff can follow up with those guests directly.
As mentioned in the previous section of this article (but it bears repeating!), check-in emails should be mobile friendly to ensure guests get the information they need wherever they are and can complete their online registration on the go.
With digital room key and payment gateway integrations, you’re all set to provide guests with a completely automated and contactless check-in experience that skips the front desk altogether. But we still recommend having staff available in person to greet arriving guests and offer assistance as needed.
For more tips, see our best practices guide for contactless hotel check-in.
Mobile enhances the on-property stay experience too.
Mobile messaging makes it easy for guests to ask questions and make requests during their stay, from the comfort of their room or while they’re out and about. Because mobile messaging is so convenient and unobtrusive, it increases guest engagement and satisfaction.
It can also improve revenue and efficiency. When integrated with your PMS, personalized in-stay messaging and offers (like spa discounts and room service) can be triggered automatically to generate ancillary sales. Your guest messaging platform can match incoming guest messages with reservation information from your PMS so that your staff (or your chatbot) can instantly identify the guest and resolve requests more efficiently.
You can empower your guests to use their mobile device to personalize their stay in even more ways.
Just because they’re traveling doesn’t mean guests don’t want home comforts. After a busy day exploring the city, many guests (55% in fact) want nothing more but to relax in their comfy hotel room watching their favorite Netflix show. An in-room casting solution can make this happen and is a secure, inexpensive way to allow guests to stream their preferred content from their mobile device to the guestroom TV.
Taking it a step further, some guests (34% according to HT’s customer engagement study) want to control lighting and room temperature with their mobile. IoT or smart room technology is used to give guests this kind of control over their in-room environment, enhancing the guest experience—as long as it works easily.
Last, but far from least, guests need fast (and free) Wi-Fi for a smooth, mobile-friendly in-stay experience. Without it, the stay experience is simply not mobile friendly at all. Slow, unreliable internet access results in dissatisfied guests that probably won’t come back. It’s that important!
Your guests have had a wonderful stay but all good things must come to an end. Make sure their departure goes as smoothly as the rest of their experience to ensure a memorable stay that brings them back again soon.
Guest self-check-in solutions also allow your guests to check themselves out using their mobile device. Integrated with the PMS, the system sends guests a message upon check-out, inviting the guest to review their bill and approve any payment due. The guest’s check-out automatically deactivates the mobile room key, and the check-out receipt is emailed to the guest. How easy is that? For your guests and you!
A (mobile-friendly) post-stay message should be sent after the guest leaves too—thanking the guest for their stay and inviting them to leave a review or complete a post-stay satisfaction survey.
Creating a seamless mobile guest experience isn’t just important for meeting guest expectations; it empowers hotels to provide a more personalized and memorable experience throughout the entire guest journey. Not only that, mobile applications help reduce the administrative load on front desk staff, which is especially pertinent now in the face of staff shortages. A mobile guest experience is a more sustainable one too—think of the reduction in printouts and plastic keycards!
There’s no reason to delay embracing the mobile guest journey. With a modern property management system like WebRezPro, any hotel is equipped with the tools they need to deliver a seamless mobile guest experience right now.