July 13, 2017

Growth of mobile presents challenge & opportunity for hotels


Hotel apps and mobile capabilities have become a vital part of guest experience and a key contributor to overall hotel guest satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power 2017 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.

While that may be a positive development for an industry that has been building out its apps and mobile functionalities, use of mobile sometimes leads guests to book via online travel agencies, which contributes to lower guest satisfaction, according to the study.

"As mobile usage becomes increasingly ubiquitous for guests, the challenge for hotels becomes twofold. First, they must persuade guests to book directly with them, and second, they must encourage easy utilization of this technology," said J.D. Power travel and hospitality practice lead Rick Garlick. "By forging direct relationships, hotels can become guardians of the guest experience, but at the center of these relationships is an establishment's mobile strategy."

The industry last year saw most of the major hoteliers roll out direct booking discounts tied to loyalty program membership. Those initiatives were an attempt to lower customer-acquisition costs, which, according to a report from Kalibri Labs, accounted for 15 to 25 percent of overall guest-paid revenue in the U.S. in 2016, compared to 5 to 10 percent in the 1990s. The J.D. Power study found that 75 percent of hotel rewards members were likely to book direct with a hotel versus 45 percent of nonmembers, but bookings via OTA channels are still on the rise.

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