It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who famously said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Though Emerson’s humanity and today’s technology may not always seem like friends, they are fundamentally intertwined. The technology exists not simply to help us get from point A to point B faster or to make us smarter, but instead to make our lives better, to make the journey richer. Emerson’s belief in the journey is essential to how we should view mobile technology and mobile hospitality. We must see the technology as a way to offer guests a better experience across their entire journey (not just on arrival). We must also look at the technology itself and the way it is executed as something that doesn’t simply get purchased or implemented, but instead as something that evolves and grows and integrates, contributing to core operations.
When mobile technology became a reality for hotels almost a decade ago, hotels rallied their budgets around a few specific capabilities—mobile websites, then mobile apps, then SMS marketing, followed by social media initiatives, and so forth. The marketing team would put a check mark in the right box (mobile website: done and check), implement some SEO, and move along. Each bit of mobile was treated as a singular destination. A place that could be arrived at and then departed.
It has been ten years, and it’s time that we adopt a new perspective on mobile hospitality—seeing it as a journey, a process. There are now hundreds of capabilities, none of which stand alone, all dependent on one another and on legacy systems. Mobile hospitality is an evolving platform of increasingly important stature. It is an essential aspect of delivering reservations, marketing, and guest service, and hotels benefit from treating it as such.
When we evolve from viewing mobile hospitality as a destination and, instead, see it as a process designed to deliver a specific level of guest engagement, our needs change. Here is a handy breakdown of what mobile hospitality looks like when we shift perspective.
|Cookie cutter, off-the-shelf tools||Features customized to hotel’s guest needs|
|Single purpose products = product obsolescence||Software as a Service (SaaS) = evolving capabilities|
|Relies on dominant technologies (static)||Emerging technologies (innovation)|
|Isolates the following:|
Devices, Apps, Websites, Messaging, Check-in/Check-out, Marketing, etc.
|Integrates various components of mobile (and beyond) into a device-agnostic guest-engagement platform.|
While the “destination” approach may at first seem more attainable (and plenty of firms will sell it as such because it’s profitable to sell off-the-shelf products), without a holistic strategy that considers integration flexibility, and customization, hotels are destined to be forever re-doing bits and pieces as they become obsolete or out of sync with one another.
Adopting the “journey,” on the other hand, creates a stable and innovative foundation that can be tailored to a hotel’s exacting specifications. TripCraft uses a combination of Engines and Toolkits available in our platform along with customization to deliver mobile solutions that can evolve along with a hotel’s strategy. Many times this approach allows a hotel to do something that’s never been done before.
When The Standard Hotel Group sought to create a mobile application that would give guests the opportunity to book and check-in at any time of the day or night along with a one-touch payment solution, it was evident they wanted to take mobile hospitality to a new level. This project could never have seen fruition with a cookie-cutter app. Instead, we used our Booking Engine and Integration Engine as the foundations. Then, from our Toolkits, we added Mobile Payments, Rate/Inventory Caching, and Content Management. After those had been implemented, we engineered a system that would allow guests to book after midnight. Using availability from the previous day’s inventory image, we overcame the limitations of typical CRS/PMS that require booking lead-times and are unavailable during the nightly audit process.
On the consumer side, this appears to be an application, but on the hotel side, it is an innovative booking and marketing solution that has increased RevPAR by 3 points and is integrated with critical brand systems. Further, it takes guest service to a wholly new place by giving guests unrestricted access to bookings any time of day or night.
The One Night Standard app was in direct response to patterns in traveler adoption of mobile. Mobile bookings across devices comprise nearly 30% of online travel bookings, showing growth of 13% from 2015 to 2016. More importantly, 40% of respondents to a Criteo survey said they use a smartphone when they are already traveling, often making bookings for the same or next day (Skift).
These statistics shouldn’t come as a surprise. What should come as a surprise is that hotels are so far behind the curve when it comes to accommodating travelers’ desires for total and complete technological freedom. According to a report by ESSEC Business School Professor Peter O’Connor, when asked what technology the hotel industry will by using in 2020, hoteliers continue to focus on the same systems (revenue management, CRM, and so forth) as a decade ago (HospitalityNet).
Viewing mobile hospitality as a core function of both guest service and operations is the first step toward meeting travelers where they want to be reached. The second is to eschew the “set and forget” attitude that has created so many disparate mobile tools. Hotels can no longer afford to believe that once a mobile website is live or their chatbot has been implemented, they can dust their hands on their slacks and move on. We must create symbiotic systems that move away from the idea that the destination is the endpoint and toward the principle that mobile hospitality is a journey that requires a foundation as well as regular tending.
About Mike Murray, Co-Founder, TripCraft
Mike Murray is co-founder of TripCraft, a mobile technology company offering an innovative mCommerce platform for hospitality. At TripCraft, Mr. Murray oversees product development, technology, and business strategy while remaining a hands-on developer and architect of the company’s products. Mr. Murray has been developing innovative travel and technology solutions for over 25 years and his innovative thinking and systems can be seen powering some of the travel industry’s biggest names. Before TripCraft, Mr. Murray was CEO and founder of several successful startup companies. One of his most notable successes was hubX, which was a hotel industry pioneer in delivering Internet based systems and technologies via a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. He was also CIO for SynXis and led the development of their industry leading CRS, and VP of Airline Reservation Systems at ITA software.
TripCraft was founded with one ambitious mission: to mobilize hospitality. TripCraft developed the hospitality industry’s first mobile commerce platform and offers it in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model that enables our hotel clients to capitalize on the opportunities that mobile provides, without expending the resources needed to develop their own technologies and applications. The TripCraft team is incredibly diverse, with resources and capabilities that allow hotel companies to increase brand awareness and achieve business goals. For more information about TripCraft, visit the company’s new website at www.tripcraft.com.