Written by Simon Geraghty.
Wish you were here/ wish I was there:
The hotel sector, like many others, is trying to figure out how to harness social media and mobile technology to deliver hotels for Generation Wireless. To really create points of difference versus competitors and offer valuable new experiences for visitors there’s a spectrum of activity out there among hotels: from simply using technology’s convenience at check-in right through to incorporating new experiential elements in the design of hotel itself.
According to research released by the MMGY Global/Harrison Group in August 2013, the number of people in the US who use mobile devices to plan and purchase their travel has grown from 5% of active travelers in 2011 to 33% in 2013!
The report, titled Portrait of Digital Travelers, coined a new term for this generation of traveler: the Digital Elite. These are people who own and use at least two of the following: smartphones or tablets. But we prefer our own term: Generation Wireless.
In 2012, Tablet Hotels ran a competition asking designers, architects and visionaries to present how they envisaged the perfect hotels for Generation Wireless. Crowd-sourcing ideas in its own right is a great way to involve customers in shaping your products, services and sharing your activity. The many entrants and winner are listed here and there is plenty of food for thought if you have the time to spare.
Give me convenience or give me an App
In its quest to deliver hotels for Generation Wireless, the Marriot Group tested mobile check-in at 31 of their properties over the summer. Results showed that 25% of their Marriot Rewards guests used their Mobile App to check-in and the trial was so successful that they are now offering mobile check-ins across 329 of their hotels in the US and Canada.
The Marriot Group is now planning to test mobile check-ins across 15 further countries, the UK, China, UAE, Mexico and India, in November 2013.
Back in 2011, the Radisson Edwardian ran a promotion that allowed guests a later check out time if they originally checked-in using a location based services (either Facebook places or Foursquare). I haven’t seen any mention of this promotion since then!
The Hyatt launched its Twitter concierge service in 2009, which sounds like a lifetime ago in Social Media years as each Social Media year is more akin to a dog year (7 in 1 depending on the size of the dog)! It serves over 485 properties across 45 countries where guests can tweet their questions, concerns or requests to @HyattConcierge.
A Twitter concierge is a great idea to get your hotel ready for Generation Wireless. However, the key to the success is good rostering of the service across all time-zones and clear lines of communication between the team monitoring the Twitter account and those on the ground.
Any guest in an ongoing dialogue needs to have that conversation overseen to by the same agent. An actual concierge wouldn’t just walk away from a guest mid conversation and a system to prevent this happening with a Twitter concierge service is critical to its continued success.
Taking hotels for Generation Wireless to another level of interactivity
Firmly chasing the younger end of the market, the Sol Wave House in Majorca has introduced Twitter themed rooms, drinks and its own virtual community. Using the hashtag #SocialWave guests can tweet, flirt and interact with each other. But hopefully not stalk each other!
Part of the Melia Group, the hotel hosts a #TwitterPoolParty where you can have Twitter themed cocktails and shots. There’s also a Twitter Party suite that can accommodate up to four people. Guests across the hotel can also request refills for the mini bar in their room using the hashtag #FillMyFridge.
Don’t try this at home as you need to be connected to an app that is only available on the hotel’s own wifi.
Not to be outdone, at the 1888 Hotel in Syndey upon arrival you’re welcomed by a mural of Instagram images. The hotel’s 90 rooms are also decorated with over a 100 Instagram photos, all shot by their guests.
A note for the anoraks among you, the name of the hotel itself refers to the year George Eastman founded the Kodak company and launched its first box and roll camera. With Apple now talked of as one of the leading camera companies in the world the choice of name makes sense.
Meanwhile back at the 1888 Hotel, any guests who have more than 10,000 followers get a free night’s stay. To massage the bruised egos of those not quite hitting those dizzy heights, the hotel runs a monthly competition with the person judged to have taken the best photo gets a free night’s stay as their prize. This is a great way to keep the photos in the hotel fresh and of high standard, have a look at the #1888Hotel hashtag on Instagram.
Remember that crowd-sourcing ideas and content are a great way to involve Generation Wireless in your projects, research and promotional activity.
I’m available for further research at the 1888 Hotel and Sol Wave House at a moment’s notice! Let us know in the comments below of any new hotels for Generation Wireless you’ve encountered on your travels.