When attendees arrive at a host hotel for a conference, they can spend plenty of time with technology. From replacing their keys with their smartphones to ordering room service after an evening reception via text message, conference goers are finding that hoteliers are increasingly offering mobile options that can make their stay more seamless. However, findings from the J.D. Power 2017 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index indicate they have a long road ahead to successfully motivate guests to jump on the mobile bandwagon.
Only 19 percent of the 63,000-plus guests who participated in the research have downloaded a hotel mobile app. Even those who have installed those programs on their devices don’t seem to use some of their most-basic features: Only 4 percent of check-ins and 1 percent of check-outs occurred through mobile apps.
Not all hoteliers are facing hiccups in mobile, though. Marriott, which launched a new version of its app earlier this year, has seen mobile drive approximately $1.7 billion in annual bookings. However, money isn’t the only piece that matters for the brand. George Corbin, senior vice president of digital for Marriott, offered his perspective on what matters in a mobile app in a recent interview with AdExchanger. While his insights certainly apply to other hoteliers looking to create stronger connections with guests, they also make sense for event apps. “We’ve found that people don’t want features,” Corbin said. “They want to get the job done during every step of the guest journey.”
“The more utility you can build in, the higher the adoption will be,” Corbin added. “Take something like a service request. If someone has an upcoming stay, they can tap to make special requests before they arrive like asking us for extra pillows or to leave candy and roses in the room because it’s your wedding anniversary.”
Talking vs. Texting
Marriott has been a leader in the tech space, but the brand — and all its competitors — will need to prepare for the next phase of mobile: creating a real two-way conversation. This is where the events industry is actually ahead of many of its hotel partners. At SXSW 2017, Eventbase unveiled the industry’s first chatbot, Abby. Using natural language processing, the bot offered human-like responses to questions from attendees at the spring’s most talked-about tech and music event.
“Right now, [bots in mobile apps] are at a price point that everyone won’t be able to afford, but in another year or so, I think the price point will come down,” Jeff Sinclair, CEO of Eventbase, told PCMA in an interview. “Then, smaller events will be able to consider it. We’re going to see a lot more evolution with bots in the event space.”
Interested in learning more about how bots can make a difference in the mobile-app experience? Check out “The Next Generation of Event Apps Is Talking to Attendees.”