Why hotels need to adopt a mobile-first mindset to deliver a seamless guest experience

28th March 2019

“Mobile is not a channel. It is a fundamental part of our lifestyle. It’s how we communicate, how we spend time and, more and more, how we transact.”  Will Kassoy

Mobile-first culture

There is no doubt that mobile has shifted the way people consume content, share experiences, communicate, interact, purchase, travel, interact with brands and manage their lives. In short, mobile has changed everything. With mobile taking over and simplifying everything people do in their everyday life, there is an expectation that everything can be available quickly at their fingertips, almost to the point that the off-line world needs to catch up with it. From a marketing perspective mobile has added a level of complexity that simply didn’t exist 20 years ago and today brands need to deal with these new customer expectations.  

As Will Kassoy reflects on AdWeek, some brands treat mobile as another advertising or distribution channel, while others see it as a piece of technology that is self-contained. Large travel brands like British Airways, Skyscanner, Uber, Airbnb, Hilton, Marriott and many others, have probably understood what others haven’t yet, which is what Will Kassoy argues: “Mobile is not a channel. It is a fundamental part of our lifestyle”. Not only they have adopted a mobile-first approach, but they have realised that to offer a seamless guest experience they need to support the entire customer’s journey on the platform they have chosen to use, instead of asking them to interact with multiple pieces of technology or different touch-points at different stages.

Customer journeys, as they stand, are still very often messy. Hotels and serviced apartments are too often far to be not at the forefront of innovation and guests are forced to use many different touch-points during their stay: use a tablet to check-in; switch on the TV in their room to find out information about the place where they are staying in; they have to fill out forms and leave them hanging on the door to order in-room service; they need to call reception to book additional services, like spa treatments, and so on. The customer’s journey is fundamentally broken, even though guest satisfaction, rating and reviews are paramount in the hospitality sector.

Mobile-first experience

In the digital age, mobile has a profound impact on the way customers behave. As Mr Kassoy says: “The first opportunity is to make their lives easier. Create value by adding functionality or eliminating friction and you’ll “pull” your customer right in. That’s the beautiful thing about our smartphones: they are capable of hosting an entire customer journey, from discovery to purchase - and even after, as part of an ongoing loyalty program.”

Mobile has become so embedded in everyday life that it underpins nearly every marketing channel, and hotels and serviced apartment operators need to embrace a mobile-first approach across their business in order to “be there, be useful and be quick” within their customers’ journey. Mobile first means putting mobile devices at the forefront of business and marketing strategy so that, as customers increasingly use smartphones to research, purchase, and entertain themselves, travel brands are ready to meet them on those devices with the best possible experience.

Mobile first not only means optimising the website for mobile, that is now a given, but supporting the entire customer journey on the device they have decided to use - their own phone. The Hilton, for example, offers The Hilton Honours app, which enables guests to book directly, choose the room they prefer, use digital key to skip check-in, loyalty programme and more. They have wrapped all pieces of technology within one app that guests can use on their own phone. Considering that 85% of international travellers have some kind of mobile device while exploring the world, it doesn’t come as a surprise that they have decided to develop an app to put their own brand on their guests’ phone and support the entire customers’ journey.

Here at Criton, we are on a mission to give independent hotels and serviced apartments access to the same technology that big travel brands already adopt, at a fraction of the cost. Criton enables independent operators to digitise their guest information and wrap all guest-facing technology within an app that guests can use on their own phone. From in-room ordering to location-based push notifications and loyalty programme, an app created with Criton truly give one single portal for guests to use to interact with the hotel.

As Mr Kassoy said: “If you value your customer, take a moment to put aside traditional KPIs and focus instead on customer satisfaction. Create experiences that centre on their needs, wants and expectations.” In a recent blog post, we had a look at what the hotel guest expectations are, and if you think that it’s time for you to adopt a mobile-first approach, Criton can help you deliver a seamless guest experience.

You might be interested in 5 Hotel Guest Expectations You Need to Know