Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What business travelers want from hotels when it comes to mobile

What business travelers want from hotels when it comes to mobile

September 28, 2011 | Hotel Marketing

The findings of a new Sabre study are great news for hotel marketers looking to grow their business through mobile: not only do the majority of respondents want to receive location-specific offers at their destinations, but more than two thirds also want to use their mobile devices to shop and book hotels.

By Jessika Lynch, Sabre Hospitality Solutions

There are few things quite so satisfying for a marketer as finding the perfect win-win: that opportunity to reach a key target group with your marketing message in just the right channel and at exactly the moment they’re looking for it. With so many channels now available to marketers, the quest to align your channel marketing strategy with the right messages can be a challenging one.

Last month our sister company, Sabre Travel Network, released some revealing results from a survey they conducted on mobile use among business travelers. In short, the findings were great news for hotel marketers looking to grow their business through this channel: not only do the majority of respondents want to receive location-specific offers at their destinations, but more than two thirds also want to use their mobile devices to shop and book hotels.

Already smelling the win-win? Here are a few more of the survey’s findings to get you inspired:

- 72 percent of business travelers are interested in the ability to view hotels on a map using their mobile devices, an increase of 26 percent from 2009.

- 47 percent of business travelers use their Smartphone daily to view or receive advertisements, a 95 percent increase from 2009.

- 66 percent of respondents reported interest in the ability to add a hotel reservation to an existing itinerary using their mobile devices

As a hotel marketer, there are huge opportunities in capturing this important market by helping business travelers get the information they want and shop the products they are looking for. A few best practices to get you started:

- Make sure you have an optimized mobile Website and booking engine. It might seem too obvious to add to this list, but it’s really too crucial to leave off. Every industry mobile stat published these days points to how much more consumers are using mobile for booking their travel, and this is especially true in the business sector as shown in the survey results. While your Website and even booking engine may currently show up on a mobile device, it they haven’t been specifically designed with the mobile audience in mind, the experience can become frustrating. Take advantage of this trend with an excellent mobile site designed to get your mobile visitors to the answers they are looking for quickly and efficiently, with the ability to book on every page.

- Think of Mobile as its own channel so you can offer special rates, promotions, product descriptions as well as tracking specifically for this market.

- Take advantage of SMS/Text message marketing programs. Guest can opt-in and receive messages pre- post- and during their stays at your property.

- Work with sites with geo-location services such as Foursquare, Facebook, Gowalla, and Yelp to offer promotions. First claim and clean up your listings. You will often find multiple listings for your business under slight variations for your name created when people check-in. You want to try to fully promote your brand within the network built so it’s important to report and merge duplicate listings. Next, participate in the free marketing programs that many of these sites offer such as adding links to your Website and other social media accounts, uploading pictures or offering check-in deals and specials.

- Optimize your location for mapping and mobile search. Claim and optimize your listing to ensure that listing information like address, directions and Website URL are accurate and all necessary fields are created and keywords are incorporated. Encourage users to write reviews of your business on Google Places. An advantage there is that if you have a strong optimization strategy in place for the web search version of Google Places, you will also position well in mobile search. Consider running a mobile targeted AdWords campaign with click to call and tailor your message to mobile users.

- Consider QR code promotions within your marketing to bridge on- and offline strategies. Add QR codes to print collateral and send users to a specifically designed mobile landing page. QR codes can also be implemented on the property’s internal Wi-Fi page or the TV home screen so users can interact with their mobile devices within the property.

Beyond this list – keep mobile prominently on your marketing radar and take advantage of the opportunities that align with your overall marketing strategy. Know that the mobile Web is growing eight times as quickly as the PC Web (Nielsen Online). Mobile devices are changing rapidly, and in the next few years we’ll see not only more and more tablets, but the trend towards flexible, configurable devices designed for the needs of the users carrying them. Market your experience with mobile. Take advantage of future mobile opportunities at your property to help facilitate an easy and personal way for guests to check in, access their rooms, look at your menu, and navigate your property. Enjoy finding your mobile win-win!

Jessika Lynch is Marketing, Brand and Communications Strategist at Sabre Hospitality Solutions

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