With the astonishing rate of deployment and, more importantly, success of mobile self-service throughout the Travel industry today, Hospitality should really sit up and take note. Mobile check-in, mobile boarding passes, augmented reality wayfinding and more – the Travel sector has embraced mobile in a big way. So what tech-enabled offerings might Hospitality take inspiration from to ensure self-service success?
Anyone over the age of 20 will remember having to get to the airport a lifetime before departure, queue for what seemed like an eternity at the check-in desk to be issued with their boarding pass. Now, passengers can use their mobile, check-in and access their boarding documents wherever and whenever is most convenient for them. In fact, only this month London City Airport found over 80% of their passengers were checking themselves in for flights instead of heading to the desks. Mobile check-in means no more queuing misery, just get to the airport, head straight to security, flash your mobile boarding pass and wham. You’re airside with a cocktail in hand and a smile on your face ready to board your plane.
The applications for mobile self-service within the Hospitality space are endless but for starters, initiating the dining experience well before a customer sets-foot in the restaurant sets the scene for a completely transformed customer journey. Enabling guests to order or pre-order their food and drink, amend their check and pay using their mobiles provides the ultimate in modern dining convenience. Operators such as HMSHost are already putting this tech to good use, allowing travellers at Schiphol airport to do just that. Operators can drive footfall, encourage loyalty, streamline operations and even increase spend per order. A small technology implementation that equates to big rewards.
When things do go wrong, for example, your flight is delayed or cancelled; airlines and airports have again turned to mobile to ease the blow for their passengers. Travellers can rebook themselves onto flights using an airline’s app, download coupons or vouchers for food and drink while they wait and even use augmented reality wayfinding to navigate their way through busy airports to get to a new gate.
It may not get you to your destination when you had planned to but a free meal and the reassurance you’re on the next flight out without the hassle of elbowing your way to the airline’s enquiry desk through a sea of equally irate travellers is certainly something to be thankful for.
Mobile coupons and vouchers are already being used successfully by some hospitality operators. This month Dunkin’ Donuts is offering customers a $1 off coupon via their mobile app for a box of Dunkin’ K-cup pods. But operators could broaden their use to irregular ops situations. If queues are too long, tables double booked, guests unhappy with their meals or rooms – whatever it may be – mobile is a useful, more cost effective channel to offer customers an explanation, an apology, an alternative, a coupon or voucher or even a refund.
When you’re at an airport you’re pretty much a captive audience so if you pair that with the brilliance of location tech, you have powerful location-based marketing capabilities. Imagine walking past a café and hearing the ping of your mobile phone. You open the message and voila! A coupon for a free coffee when you buy your favourite: a chocolate croissant. Or, because you have a long transit, a 20% off coupon for a massage at the spa. By tailoring offers to past preference, location or even length of transit, travellers benefit from being exposed to only the most relevant offers, increasing customer satisfaction and ultimately, ensuring future loyalty.
Last month, US chili dog restaurant Wienerschnitzel launched their loyalty based mobile app boasting location-based features that provide directions to the guest’s nearest Wienerschnitzel venue. Taking Travel’s lead, Hospitality could take this type of really powerful marketing one step further. Operators could tailor offers to guests’ presence, preference and, if based at an airport or hotel, even length of stay.
There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between the Travel and Hospitality industries, they’re both fast-paced, high pressure environments, their success both rests on customer satisfaction and loyalty and, at the end of the day, both can and are benefitting greatly from a firm move to self-service and mobile.