One of those little things many hoteliers fail to understand is that no one really cares about their likes or dislikes: travelers come from different walks of life, and they expect their needs to be met, especially by hospitality businesses.
The mere definition of hospitality is quite simple: “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” But the digital age has shifted expectation for guests and visitors. A friendly and generous reception is no longer enough: the experience is what matters the most, and this extends beyond the doors of the hotel (this is valid for any other hospitality business).
Before smart devices, and the advent of social media, things were simpler: a website, with compelling information, was often enough to boost ROI, and to convert the casual web surfer into a guest. But with modern technologies, and modern channels of information, converting web users into paying customers becomes more challenging. Lack of understanding of new trends, refusal of adopting social networks because “they are silly,” or because “French people don’t like Twitter,” are some of the reasons why many hoteliers see this season less bookings than usual. Their competitors are less stubborn: they understand that personal likes and dislikes have little room in business.
If these hoteliers want things to change, they need to understand that:
- Just because you do not use an iPad, doesn’t mean that your guests won’t. Fix your website and booking engine to be compatible with iPads, and with all other smart devices.
- You may be hating Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and all forms of social sharing, but these are how your clients communicate in the digital age, especially on the go. It’s far cheaper to send a Tweet, or a WhatsApp message, than to dial your number. Meet your customers on their own terms – this is customer service, after all.
- Mobile ads convert – there, I said it. They convert even better in the form of video ads, but ads on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube should not be ignored either. 55% of mobile traffic worldwide last year was mobile video traffic, according to Mary Meeker, partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
From all social networks available for hospitality businesses, Facebook is perhaps the one that converts best. It offers a compelling platform to communicate, and performs excellent on mobile, too.
Adapting to these realities is not a matter of being “trendy,” but simply a matter of good business. The point is that hoteliers now also have to satisfy wants, not only needs of their guests.
Mamaison Andrassy Hotel does this with flair: they now offer a selfie stick rental service to their guests, who can pay “with a photo, tweet or comment” – a brilliant strategy to get the hotel mentioned in social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on.
Many hoteliers will fail to see the brilliance of this marketing move, but it is there: imagine one in ten guests actually using this, then the payment becomes word of mouth. Obviously, Mamaison is not the only hotel in the world with the idea to offer selfie sticks among perks for guests. Others that adapted to this “want” expressed by guests are Kimpton Hotels, Hilton Hotels, W Hotels, and the list could go on. This is just an example of how hotel businesses “adapt” to mobile trends. Those who still don’t, and fail to see the need to become part of the mobile revolution, are, and remain, behind the curve.