By Somali K Chakrabarti
‘Sell the destination, not the plane’
has been a long standing adage for airlines marketers.
People do not fly the plane just for the sake of it, they take a plane to reach a destination. The adage holds true for hotels as much as for airlines.
So far, digital marketing by hotels in India has been all about their properties and services; destination finds little mention in digital marketing strategy as of now.
This, however, is likely to change !
As tourism industry matures in India, destination should become the centerpiece of the strategy for hotels that want to push up their direct sales. In future, mobile concierge services may emerge as an essential component of the destination centric digital strategy for hotels.
The Gateway Hotels (a brand of the Taj group of hotels), for instance, has taken a lead over other hotel chains by adopting a mobile concierge for their hotel in Agra.
Smart devices are now powerful machines that can be harnessed to deliver traveller experience that is not possible on the web. An interactive mobile concierge with engaging destination information can be a dynamic customer engagement tool having the longest interface with the customer. Using a mobile concierge, a hotel can engage the customer right from the time of booking to much after their stay.
If you are a wired traveller with a mobile concierge, here’s how hassle- free, travel will be you.
Pre – arrival
Imagine how it would be like to receive a welcome text on your cell just as you reach the city, followed by a welcome email that includes a link to concierge’s blog as you are on your way to the hotel. The blog would not only inform you about the things that you can do at the hotel, but will also give you information about the local attractions or any events that take place during your stay. The email would also provide you a link to the hotel’s Facebook page and encourage you to and post on arrival.
On arrival/ during stay
Now, consider the situation when you have to arrange a business dinner for three clients and are looking for an appropriate dining venue in another part of the town. Based on online reviews, you narrow your search down to three spots. You turn up to the concierge to find out the best fit.
At this point the concierge intelligently shares the information that an ongoing road repair enroute the first venue has slowed down the traffic and requires a detour through the side lanes, so reaching the venue could be a time consuming exercise. The third venue the conceirge suggests is now so popular that it can get noisy for serious business talks. That zeroes your search to the 2nd venue. Additionally the concierge suggests a newer venue near the hotel, with continental cuisine and drinks, and the ability to close off individual tables.
As you make the final selection, the concierge then offers to make reservations for the traveler at the recommended restaurant. You quickly agree, the booking is done and you receive a confirmation on your cell. You scarcely need to consult another app for the duration of your trip.
Finally when you check out of the hotel you receive an email saying “It was a pleasure to have served you during your stay with us. We look forward to serving you again. If you want to keep up-to-date on what’s new in our area between visits, please visit our blog at [web address]. Thank you.”
Well, that is how hassle- free your travel will be with a mobile concierge.
Mobility is the future
… we see that mobility is more than apps that are merely an extension of websites. A well crafted mobile concierge can be the game changer and a cornerstone for future digital strategy for hotels. A paradigm shift is needed in digital marketing of hotels to move away from a web centric strategy to one where mobility is at least as important as web if not more.
The writing is on the wall. The ones who read it early will have the edge.
“Travel players will need to quickly adopt mobile concierge services in the next few years to answer the growing need of their customers and not to lose out on business” – Global Trends Report 2013, World Travel Market
“Hotels are expected to use a mix of on-site and mobile concierge services in the future” – Global Trends Report 2013, World Travel Market
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Reference: Mobile Concierge: How Technology is Changing Service