I was talking to a potential client who needed help marketing a mobile app for hotels, or, more to the point, a mobile app for hotel customers that hotels can offer. It allows the customer to check in and out, order room service, see what events are going on in the area, receive coupons and deals to surrounding restaurants and stores, see the weather, transportation options, directions – basically, it lets you do and see everything you’d want to, from the comfort of your smart phone. Hotels could also sell this as part of a group package to conference and wedding planners, since the group option also lets members of the group see the floor plan of the hotel, the schedule of workshops and events, gives conference sponsors branding, etc.
Seems like a no-brainer for hotels. I mean, it’s a value-added app for them to offer tech-savvy clientele for a fairly small cost to the hotel owner, with big rewards to reap in terms of conference planners and customers paying extra money for the benefit of the app.
Ah, but how little did I know about the world of hotels and hotel owners. According to my potential client, when it comes to technology, the hotel industry lags 2 – 3 years behind. And that includes hotels in Silicon Valley. Yep, even Silicon Valley is a hard sell when it comes to a mobile app for hotels.
Crazy, right? You don’t have to have read this article from The New York Times to know that easy access to technology, whether that means free wi-fi or ordering room service from your smart phone, is key for hotels looking to capture the twenty-something to thirty-something demographic. These are folks who would rather not flip through an outdated binder of tourist options – they want what they want, in the smoothest, easiest, manner possible.
You can be a cranky hotel owner and dismiss this as millennial entitlement, but the fact of the matter is, millennial hotel customers aren’t going away. What might seem like entitlement today becomes the norm tomorrow. In fact, as the clientele gets younger and technology continues its fast and inexorable march, the hotel owner who adapts the fastest is going to win the race for business. Or, as hotel owners like to think of it, the race to have the largest number of rooms filled at the best rates.