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New report: How hoteliers are meeting the challenges of the ‘Mobile First’ world

Remember what life was like before smartphones? It's more and more difficult to do so, and many of us probably go through our day-to-day lives taking the technology we rely on for granted. And yet less than a decade after the launch of Apple’s iPhone - which many see as the start of the mobile revolution - it’s staggering to think about how greatly mobile technology has impacted social interaction, commerce and especially travel.

Today, it’s possible to find a hotel, see photos of its rooms and amenities, then get rates from the hotel itself and from OTAs, all without ever making a single call or setting foot on property. But how does the hospitality industry make sure that potential guests get the information they need to make decisions and find the best value for their travel spend, in ways that are optimized for mobile devices?

The challenges and opportunities the industry faces in serving the world’s 2.6 billion smartphone users are the subject of a new report produced by Sabre and Tnooz, Mobile in Travel: The End-to-End Impact.

The report examines the technological innovations and consumer trends that combine to shape the mobile travel ecosystem, with perspectives from a wide range of stakeholders on the ways they are delivering a mobile-enabled end-to-end experience.

Other forms of digital advertising are limited to the time that potential customers have their eyes on the screen, but the fact that mobile devices are ever-present means hoteliers can engage with guests 24/7.

However, asking too much of customers can sour the experience, even pushing would-be guests out of the funnel. "When we look at the shopping experience, it's all about less is more and finding the minimum number of steps needed for a guest to be comfortable making a booking on their mobile device," said Sarah Kennedy Ellis, vice president of global marketing for Sabre Hospitality Solutions.

Mobile devices also allow hotels to tailor the customer experience to their guests' needs. For example, Fontainebleau uses a phone’s GPS capability to present a different mobile website to guests when they are within a certain distance of the hotel. After all, a guest who’s already booked will be looking for different information on amenities, entertainment and dining than a potential guest who hasn't yet booked.

Leveraging the ubiquity of mobile devices not only improves guest experience but allows hotels to improve their operations. In addition to providing mobile payment and check-out options, Fontainebleau also emails arriving guests to get an idea of their check-in times, allowing the hotel to optimize staffing for housekeeping.

Mobile devices allow a wide range of options that can simplify our lives. The challenge for the hospitality industry will be to find ways to apply mobile technology in ways that improve guest experience while also making their operations more efficient.

These trends were part of the discussion on an Oct. 6 Tnooz webinar, sponsored by Sabre and featuring Expedia, with panelists including Mark McSpadden, director of Sabre Labs; Martin Cowen, author of the Tnooz Mobile in Travel report; and Akshaya Murali, head of product, Mobile Shopping, at Expedia. Click here to view a replay of the webinar.

Download your copy of Mobile in Travel: The End-to-End Impact for more insights into how mobile technology is transforming the hospitality industry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Hugh Fisher
Data Analyst

As data storyteller for Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Hugh analyzes industry data and researches trends impacting hotel revenue, bookings and guest experience. He has an MBA with concentrations in Marketing Management and Decision Analytics from the Jenkins Graduate School of Management, NC State University. Hugh.Fisher@Sabre.com

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