Friday, February 20, 2009

Hotel Mobile Sites Show Good ROI

An article in Ad Age talks about how various hotel chains are using mobile bookings to generate revenue. Although it doesn't state if this is net new revenue or if this is simply cannibalizing existing channels (which I assume is the case), this shows how a company is using mobile to its advantage to help differentiate it's service offering.

I've often mentioned that marketers need to exploit mobile first by looking at their core business offering and seeing where there are natural synergies to align their strategies against the channel. Then (or concurrently depending on their workload/resources), look at how they should add mobile as a communications element to their overall mix.

The article cites 'convenience' as being on of the major drivers behind m-commerce - which is quite true and obvious. On the business side of the equation, I'm sure that this will also reduce call centre volume and check-in time - although I'm sure that many of the people up-taking these products would just use the web anyway. The question will be how to differentiate their service offering in the long term?

Eventually all hotels will offer this service, so how do you create a unique service to each customer? If the business objective is to reduce call centre/staffing costs and drive retention, what is the core mobile strategy that will encourage customers to do this time and time again? Perhaps rewarding these customers based on their profile (which I assume is an early tech adopter) making their stays more convenient and rewarding. Like, giving free wi-fi for a two-night stay, developing an app making their phone their key for their room, or having them beta test other apps you are looking to develop. Take the service a step further to try to see how you can create a relationship.

I've been using mobile check-in with airlines since they launched. I'm constantly surprised that whenever I show my phone 1) they don't have the 'equipment' to scan my ticket and 2) at least one of the reps say 'oh, I've never seen that before'. But one thing is for sure, I have never thanked or communicated with for being an early adopter of the product.

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