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WE ARE TRAVEL: Newsletter #6

WE ARE TRAVEL: Newsletter #6

WE ARE TRAVEL: Newsletter #6 October 1, 2015


In Newsletter #6: Mobile Web vs. Mobile Apps; Independents grow as part of a mixed portfolio; Your concierge is tweeting. 

Mobile Web vs. Mobile Apps: Who wins and why...

Marketing Land | Morgan Stanley: No, Apps Aren't Winning, The Mobile Browser Is.
Tnooz | Cross-Device Shopping In Travel - The Mobile Reality

Why it matters: There seems to be a tug of war between Mobile Apps and the Mobile Web.

We might argue, however, this debate is spurious; they can exist simultaneously, they serve different needs, and they can even benefit one another. While apps incur the periodic delay of downloading new versions, they provide features unavailable in mobile web, such as two-way messaging, notifications, iBeacon integration, Apple Pay, keyless entry, and improved performance (to name a few). Thus, apps, as one group's Director of IT recently told us, can "do things that could not be done before.”

These extra features serve repeat customers nicely in increasing both customer satisfaction and loyalty. According to Criteo’s Q3 report on mobile commerce, apps generate 49% of mobile transactions and boast a 3.7x higher conversion rate. In comparison, direct booking conversions are traditionally between 2-3% for hotels with a 95% bounce rate. Mobile Apps 1 Mobile Web 0.

Mobile web, however, can effectively service customers who don’t want to, or cannot, download an app for their device, and can easily integrate with web discovery methods, such as search engines, social media, blogs, etc. As Eric Schmidt said, the internet is going to disappear. Sure, Eric… but first we (hotels) need to place ourselves on our guest’s phones and according to ComScore stats, the mobile web browser audience is currently 2x larger than the app audience and it is growing at a faster pace. Mobile Apps 1 Mobile Web 1.

The combination of apps and mobile web is, however, more than the sum of their parts. App download links and deep app links in the mobile web, email, SMS, etc., can direct customers to install the app and to specific functionality within the app, respectively. Content created for the mobile web can also be displayed in the app. Both interfaces, moreover, can work with the same servers, leveraging shared functionality, and minimizing the additional effort required to develop and support both. Thus, more-capable prestige apps and more accessible, more discoverable mobile web will continue to flourish alongside, and because of, one another.



Hotel Speak | Twitter, Hotel Concierge and the Connected Traveler

Why it matters: We talk so often about the connected traveler but very little about the connected employee. Why is that? With some hotel groups pushing the boundaries of Twitter communication and others enabling guest texting, there have never been so many channels for the guest: phone, web, email, in person, apps, texting, Twitter… the traveller has never been more connected.

Yet how can your staff handle this? Is one department responsible or multiple departments responsible for handling it all?

Our viewpoint has always been to give the guest the flexibility of choice. Choice is a luxury and everyone wants it. Yet so little time is spent looking at how a hotel, and more importantly, its employees, can manage every channel seamlessly as if they were all the same.

Sorry to push our agenda, we rarely do, but we are very excited to have launched Guest SMS ourselves and a big Thank You to our tech team who completed it in under a week. No, we were not first... Checkmate and many others have all made a recent push on this.

Yet we urge you to think about the employee as we did. Where does the text go? When you text a hotel, you will definitely want an answer and quickly, so it must go into the same back-end system(s) your team use to manage the rest of their work.With this approach, adding Twitter, Facebook and all other channels that develop in the future will be easier than you anticipate.

Twitter may not be the right approach for you now, or ever, but keeping up with new engagement channels is a must - the last thing anyone wants is another application to be monitored every time a new channel gets added. Let’s all connect the employee the same way we are connecting the guest.

Independents grow as part of mixed portfolios
Hotel News Now | Independents Grow as Part of Mixed Portfolios

Why it matters: This is big.

Every national franchise or chain should be looking at themselves and asking the hardest of questions: Does our business model, which once flourished, work in this today’s environment? And by this we mean, are we truly helping our hotels differentiate enough to win over new owners?

With the incredible amount of innovation in the booking space over the past decade, the ability for an independent or small boutique group to flourish in its own right has never been stronger. These brands like Standard, Nomad, Firmdale, Morgans, Gansevoort, Sixty are paving their own ways in customer experience, creating the strongest of brand identities and driving real returns.

Traditional loyalty programs - as we have discussed in past newsletters - no longer provide a competitive advantage, and with so many tools to manage your booking channels you would be forgiven for wondering why someone would choose a chain over independence or even a smaller boutique franchise that might adapt faster in differentiating itself.

More bookings, more loyalty and more guests - the hallmarks of a national chain franchise are no longer as powerful as they used to be. So we applaud those groups working hard to stay relevant by continually differentiating themselves: Marriott’s Autograph collection is an outstanding example of a differentiated offering for independent hoteliers within a national brand. And Starwood and Hilton’s moves in keyless entry could still harken a self-service upgrade similar to the one that transformed the airline industry.

Yet hotel chains still lag behind consumer expectations. And with Airbnb doubling in nightly bookings each year, we as an industry really have our work cut out for us.