Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mobile Could Have Fixed My Bad Hotel Stay

I’ve stayed at quite a few hotels in my lifetime, but there are a few experiences definitely stand out in my mind–for good reasons and bad. Recently, I had one of those standout experiences, but unfortunately it was one of the not so great ones. I went up to Michigan for a brief trip and had high hopes since I knew this particular hotel chain was one that prides itself on “great customer service”. My experience was anything but great. Apparently this isn’t too uncommon: Research shows that while 80 percent of businesses believe they provide excellent customer service, only eight percent of customers believe they are actually receiving excellent service. The common denominator I found in my recent hotel stay was that the majority of my complaints could have been easily fixed if the hotel provided a mobile experience to accompany my stay. Tools driving real-time customer interactions–especially via mobile platforms–are poised for significant growth, so allow me to walk you through my experience, with a little added commentary on how mobile could have made it better:

Mobile Check-In
I had a late check in on a Sunday evening, and I noticed that even though it was an off time to check in, my wait was unusually long. I spent a little too long standing in line trying to juggle my bags, phone, wallet, and printed reservation–not exactly the best way to welcome a weary traveler. Once I got up to the desk, the check-in itself only took about five minutes, since all they needed was my name to give me my room key. So all that waiting around was just because they were a little short-staffed! Now let’s get into how mobile could have made this better. Imagine receiving an email the night before your check-in that prompts you to click a link and access a mobile-friendly experience. Since it was a unique link from your email, your information is already input in the check-in form, so all you have to do is hit “Confirm”. Flash forward to the next morning, and you receive a text message alerting you that your room is ready. You pull right into the hotel parking lot and head straight up to your room, using your phone as your room key. Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Resorts like Walt Disney World are already doing this, taking away any time that you would have spent in the lobby trying to juggle your things, and starting off your hotel experience with a “wow”-worthy moment.

Mobile Thermostat
This is where I really could have used a mobile connected room. The thermostat would never actually do what it said it would, which left me getting up and changing the temperature every twenty minutes. It would get warmer than I had set it, so I would turn it down and then it would get colder than I had set it, so I would turn it up. At one point the entire system just stopped working and the room got ice cold (because it was Michigan in November). It would have been much easier to pull out my mobile device from wherever I was in the room and set it at a certain temperature. It’s hard to say that would have made the system not go above or below the temperature I set it at, but at least I could do it without getting up (meaning crawling out from under the covers when it was too cold).

Mobile Remote Control
There were so many things that went wrong with this trip, and if I wrote about all of them this would be a five page post. But the cherry on top that could only make me laugh at this point was that the remote control to the TV had low batteries and only worked some of the time. After the remote stopped working, I would have to shake it to get some juice back in the batteries, and repeat after every other time it stopped working. I couldn’t help but think in that moment: How easy would it be to have a mobile experience that allowed me to request something from the front desk? Instead of having to fumble with the landline, I could have simply accessed a mobile experience that allowed me to alert the front desk that I had an issue, all on my device of choice. Even better? What if there was a mobile experience that turned my phone into a remote control for the TV (which is totally doable–TV remote apps have been around for years!) Two mobile solutions for this problem that proved to be the cherry on top of my frustrating stay.

All of these things may seem like minuscule problems, but they all add up to create an experience that leaves a lasting brand impression. The hospitality industry is built on quality experiences, and mobile can help create that for companies large and small. It won’t take away the need for positive customer-employee interactions, but it will enhance the experience and stand out in your customer’s mind. Mind you, these are just a few ways that mobile could have solved my recent hotel problems, but stay tuned for the value of mobile experiences in the hospitality industry, companies leading the pack, and the perfect mobile experience sure to grab the attention of your customers.