There is much written about how adopting the latest technology (keyless room entry, mobile app booking, etc.) is helping hoteliers to provide a better level of customer service and deliver operational efficiency. This, of course, enhances marketing activities indirectly via repeat custom, word of mouth promotion and positive social media activity.
However, some forward-thinking hotels and hotel groups are taking advantage of technology to boost their sales and marketing in a more direct and often creative fashion.
Here are the ways in which technology can be used to drive more brand awareness in 2019:
Branded Mobile Apps
We’re all familiar with the idea of branded hotel linen, bathroom products, and stationery and creating a branded mobile app is just an extension of that practice into the modern age. How hotels adapt to mobile ubiquity could be one of the defining factors of the information age so if you’re interested in creating a branded app for your hotel, it is vital that you take the time to do it properly. There is plenty of opportunities to steal a lead over competitors because the current app situation is often messy and disjointed with some hotel chains offering too many different apps and others difficult to find because of competing third-party apps.
Having said that, it is still vital to keep a close eye on trends in the industry; for example, payment security is becoming one of the biggest budget priorities and if you are planning on upgrading your payment systems to ensure compliance it makes sense to look at the mobile payment solutions that are on the market with a view to integrating them into your app.
Before creating your app, take a look around and see what else is on the market. Take a look at the apps provided by Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, and Hilton for inspiration as well as smaller hotels. For a prime example of a hotel that has provided an app that is totally consistent with its brand download the W Hotels app from Starwood Resorts and Hotels.
One area which has really shaken up the hospitality industry is the provision of in-room entertainment. It is simply no longer possible to get away with providing a standard TV service even if you offer an On-Demand facility. The way many people, especially the younger generation, now consume media is via subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus and the like which is why Marriott Hotels partnered up with Netflix. This kind of collaboration extends beyond simply making customers happy; once hotels have linked up with media providers they can mutually enhance one another’s marketing. For example, customers can be encouraged to sign up to a subscription service while in residence in return for commission for the hotel. Meanwhile, media providers can offer hotel perks as part of their general marketing (e.g. Hilton and DirecTV).
In response to this sea change in media consumption, traditional hotel entertainment providers are being replaced by a new wave of companies offering more flexible models (e.g. Guest-Tek, iBahn, Roomlinx, and Swisscom Hospitality Services).
Content and Social Media Marketing
While mobile apps and in-room media packages are ideal for capturing and maintaining attention prior to and during stays, content marketing offers a way to keep your brand in the customer’s mind long after they have left your property.
Many hotels now provide a blog which helps to strengthen brand loyalty and enrich that important narrative that binds hotel and guest together. There are many different types of blog, from the busy and eye-catching format of Best Western’s ‘You Must be Trippin,’ to the elegant and minimalist blog from the Montcalm luxury London hotel chain.
Having a strong and consistent social media presence is also a must for any hotel. Again, it is more important that your social media pages and profiles integrate seamlessly with your brand than it is to jump on to every platform going. While on that subject, don’t immediately dismiss bloggers who contact you offering publicity in return for a discounted or complimentary stay. Check out their online influence, audience demographics, and content tone first because there are a few influencers out there that could really benefit you in terms of brand awareness.
Setting Strong Foundations
In the rush to compete with the best, some hotels neglect one of the least visible yet most important aspects of their technology ecosystem – the IT systems and support that underpin everything. For example, there is no point in offering a state-of-the-art media streaming service if your bandwidth capabilities become saturated with your hotel half full or if your poorly secured Wi-Fi puts customer data at risk. Nobody would build a property without first laying the foundations and the same thinking should apply to constructing a technology project. If there is a problem, fast and effective IT services are also crucial and will become even more so as the hospitality industry fully embraces the digital age.
About the author: Brent Whitfield is the CEO of DCG Technical Solutions Inc. DCG provides the specialist advice and Los Angeles IT support businesses need to remain competitive and productive while being sensitive to limited IT budgets. Brent has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business. IT Services provider, https://www.dcgla.com was recognized among the Top 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP Mentor. Twitter: @DCGCloud
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