The Case for Adopting Mobile as a Platform

Figuring out the world of mobile technology has consumed a lot of time and resources in the hospitality market over the last decade. When something changes as rapidly as mobile has, it’s only natural that the industry adoption of best practices around that technology will be fragmented, especially since best practices seem to change every six months. Example: Just a few years ago, it was enough to replicate your desktop website design for mobile viewing. Then we moved toward responsive design so that websites would automatically scale to adapt better on mobile devices. Now we know that mobile users are super goal-oriented, and they require a mobile site that is designed specifically for the way they will use it on a smartphone or tablet.

As a result of trying to keep up with the rapid growth of mobile technologies, a problem has cropped up. Hotels are viewing mobile as simply a tool. A tool with many prongs, no doubt, but just a tool, nonetheless. There’s the mobile website, mobile apps, SMS capabilities, mobile check-in, messaging apps, and so forth. Hotels have thus far been selecting tools largely based on either necessity (a mobile website isn’t optional anymore) or on revenue potential (using SMS to push offers, for instance.). Many hotels only make the jump to mobile so they can tell the world they have an app—checking the checkbox. But what mobile really is—and the most productive way to look at it—is a platform. A guest service platform.

If you adopt this view of mobile technology as a guest service platform, it unifies your efforts. Rather than getting locked into conversations about whether an app is necessary for your independent hotel (it is, but that’s beside the point), the conversation becomes about how you can use mobile connections to support your guest experience and how applications can serve to accomplish those things. The functional pieces—the websites, apps, messaging, and so forth—become extensions of the platform with specific goals and purposes rather than free-floating, often disjointed, marketing tools.

The recent Phocuswright report “How & Why Mobile Messaging Will Transform Traveler Engagement” notes that messaging on its own can be viewed as “a central hub providing access to a growing universe of services,” including concierge services, booking assistance, and so forth. What’s more useful is to view messaging as a part of the mobile platform that liberates both guests and staff. A platform that frees everyone up by making basic information and requests highly accessible (whether that’s due to speed or to design or both) so that the focus then becomes the experience, allowing the good times to be more easily gotten for the guest and more efficiently offered for the hotel.

In this guest service platform scenario, mobile, which has thus far been treated as a booking mechanism and usually as a means to drive revenue, becomes a valuable and fundamental aspect of service. One that simplifies and enhances. Mobile is not the space in which to reinvent the wheel or get wildly innovative right now, at least not where usability or technology are concerned. It is, however, the opportunity to create a frictionless guest service strategy, to get bold with delivering for your guests in a way that is straightforward and practicable.