Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 27 2015

Are Emojis The New Language Of Engagement?

By David McMillin


As hoteliers continue to develop strategies to connect with an emerging generation of guests, Starwood’s Aloft brand is launching a new kind of room service that will eliminate a traditional element of ordering food: speaking. The Aloft TiGi Emoji Room Service Menu parts ways with the need to pick up the phone and gives guests the ability to text an emoji and their room number to a dedicated phone number. Who needs words when you can send a clip art image of a cookie and a lollipop?

Strange? Absolutely. Will it resonate with guests? I’m willing to bet yes. Recent data from the International Smartphone Mobility Report shows that Americans spend approximately 26 minutes each day texting versus just six minutes on voice calls.

“At Aloft, we’re always looking for ways to shake up the hotel stay,” Brian McGuinness, Global Brand Leader, Starwood’s Speciality Select Brands, said in a statement. “We look to consumer behavior and think about how to integrate these trends into the Aloft experience. The rise of emoji was a logical next step, the perfect new wave of guest communications.”

Aloft’s program doesn’t include the entire room service menu. Instead, it includes a collection of speciality items such as “The Hangover”, two bottles of vitaminwater, Advil and two bananas for $10, and “The Munchies”, a pack that includes Coca-Cola, Doritos, Snickers and a chocolate brownie for $10. Even better, if the guest’s phone is dying, her or she can send an emoji to save it with a $25 order a phone charger.

SEE ALSO: “Are Robots The Future Of The Hotel Experience?”

The Evolving Definition Of Customer Service — And Its Impact On Conventions

Aloft is not alone in embracing an alternative approach to the customer experience. Take a look at some of the leading brands, and you’ll see plenty of new ways to spend money without talking to anyone. For example, restaurant chain and pizza delivery giant Domino’s has been promoting the ability to order pizza with an emoji via social media. At the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, fans can order beer and food via the new In-Seat Delivery function without standing in line or looking any employees in the eyes.

As convention professionals work to cater to attendee needs during three- and four-day programs, it’s important to consider what the continuing shift to smartphone-ready convenience means for attendee expectations. If they can order pizza at the push of a button at home, will they want to be able to make on-site lunch orders with the same ease? If they have their Starbucks order waiting for them when they arrive at the counter, will they want to be able to order their glasses of wine at evening receptions in a similar manner? Making these kinds of adjustments is not simple. From the potential catering complications to the additional investment in a meeting’s mobile app, there are plenty of questions. However, the meetings team that works to find answers may just be the winner in delivering the most compelling attendee experience. And that would deserve a smiley face emoji.

Is your organization making an effort to meet the needs of today’s on-demand economy? Or are you adjusting the way you speak to attendees? If you’ve taken any steps to accommodate the need for instant and easy gratification among attendees, send me a note. I would love to feature your meeting in an upcoming story on PCMA.org.

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