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The underappreciated city of Minneapolis served as host for the 2019 edition of HITEC (produced by HFTP) which wrapped up its most recent four-day run on June 20, 2019. In the days and weeks leading up to the event, meeting solicitations and party invites filled my inbox at a growth rate any VC or entrepreneur would envy. As a first-timer to this international hospitality technology behemoth, it became apparent that HITEC actually begins a few weeks prior to when that first request or invitation lands in your over-stuffed inbox.

Time is limited. Once it’s gone, you can’t gain it back. Similarly, once a room goes unsold for a night, it will go unsold forever. There’s no way to recover that loss, because there’s no way to go back in time.
 
Many hotels fight this limitation by trying to sell as many rooms as possible. If all the rooms are completely booked, time no longer becomes a factor. But most don’t have the luxury of being at-capacity every single night. That’s why last-minute booking apps are growing in popularity in the industry, where hotels can make the most of each day. These apps specifically target guests who don’t plan far in advance, seeking accommodations from one week to one minute later.
 
There are several different ways your hotel can benefit from using last-minute booking apps in your business strategy.

IoT is Coming, Jon Snow…
Posted: 05/21/2019

Hospitality is prime for the coming advent of the various devices that make up the Internet of Things. Estimates show the industry now represents 17.5 million rooms worldwide and savvy guests are demanding more personalization and an overall improved guest experience along their connected travel journey and belief is that IoT can bring this to reality. 

The forces driving local search rankings are constantly changing. But recent studies suggest that in 2019, four key factors make up the local search algorithm. 
 
The most significant factor is Google My Business (GMB). If you’re not on it, get on it now.

The robotic revolution in the hospitality industry might seem to have taken a step back. This January, the famously quirky Henn-Na Hotel in Japan fired half of its 243 robot staff. The robotic workforce reportedly irritated guests and frequently broke down.



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The Future of Mobile Payment in Travel

11/27/2018
Mobile technology is fast becoming central to the entire travel experience. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to research trips, book accommodation, check in at the airport, and access their hotel room. But one of the next big roles mobile has to play in the travel process is mobile payment. The idea of an entirely cashless society might still seem some way off, but mobile payment is gaining popularity. As it becomes more widely used, its fast and frictionless nature will bring benefits before, during and after a trip. 
 
With that in mind, how is mobile payment being used right now, and what specific benefits can it offer to travelers and travel brands alike?
 
Mobile Payment in China is Booming
It’s impossible to start this topic without first discussing China — a nation where mobile payment has seen incredible growth. Much of this is being driven by WeChat — a unique social platform that also allows users to make payments to both individuals and businesses. 
 
With one billion monthly active users, WeChat is China’s most popular app, and its all-in-one social platform/payment system makes it a great tool for travellers. In a recent white paper, over 90 percent of Chinese tourists said they would use mobile payment overseas if they had the option, giving travel companies a compelling reason to offer them the means to do so.
 
Mobile payment has seen more of a stuttering start elsewhere, and US consumers still seem to be wary. However, adoption is growing especially among younger generations.
 
Figures from Apple Pay also indicate strong growth. In the first quarter of 2017,  Apple Pay transactions grew by 450 percent year-over-year. While it’s worth noting that this figure is partly down to increased iPhone sales (which include built-in mobile payment apps), these numbers certainly tell a story. 
 
As similar payment systems such as Samsung Pay and Android Pay are preloaded into other devices, mobile payment (driven by Millennials and Gen X) looks set to become more prevalent, leading to greater integration across the industry. 
 
With all that in mind, what specific benefits will this bring to travel brands and their  customers?

 
More Effective Marketing
When payment is instant and effortless, consumers are more inclined to buy. Consider how in just a couple of clicks, having an Amazon account lets you buy a book or movie that it just recommended. Zero hassle involved.
 
Mobile payment operates on the same premise, and its benefits to travel brands are substantial. It’s easier to tempt a customer to buy ancillary products and services when, instead of handing over a credit card or cash, they can make payment with a quick tap of their smartphone.
 
In practice, travellers at the airport could use their smartphones to pay for a flight upgrade, club lounge access or duty free goods. To take advantage of this, international brands, retailers and airports are now partnering with Chinese mobile payment systems WeChat Pay and Alipay to tap into the lucrative Chinese tourist market. 
 
There are also clear opportunities for hotels. By accepting mobile payment, a property could upsell guests on arrival with the option of a room upgrade, or push offers during their stay on additional amenities, trips and on-property experiences. 
 
 
Streamlined Travel 
One of the major issues travel brands face is high online booking abandonment rates. A well-cited SaleCycle study found that 81 percent of shoppers abandon their bookings. More recently, a travel study of Asia Pacific found 92 percent of consumers in the region abandon their bookings at checkout. In part, transactions are abandoned because of overly complicated checkout processes, which involve lengthy forms and having to enter credit card details. Again, the simplicity of mobile wallet can remove this sales friction when people book a flight or accommodation.
 
By offering a point-of-sale device for mobile payment, hotels would also be able to offer a smoother check-in process. A quick payment with a smartphone, instead of using cards and cash, could significantly reduce queues at the front desk, allowing guests to reach their room more swiftly on arrival. 

 
Increasing Loyalty 
Engagement with loyalty programs is often lacklustre. Part of the issue is their unwieldy nature. Consumers often have loyalty programs with numerous companies, which can only be accessed by visiting each company's own website or app. This fragmentation quickly discourages active loyalty participation.
 
The beauty with the mobile wallet is complete integration. All loyalty programs can be accessed from the same place. Brands can now integrate their existing loyalty programs into the mobile wallet, which represents a huge opportunity to engage guests with easy-to-access rewards. 
 
There’s reason to believe travellers would be highly receptive to this. According to the 2016 Points’ The State of Mobile Wallet Loyalty and Engagement report, 94 percent of consumers would more frequently use a mobile wallet if they could earn and/or redeem loyalty points and miles with each transaction.
 
As an example, a hotel could quickly notify a guest about any outstanding loyalty points they have, with a prompt about the benefits and rewards available to them for making a purchase. This additional touchpoint also offers a natural way to stay in contact with guests throughout the year, keeping a hotel top of mind and strengthening relationships. 

 
The Future of Travel Payment
As the move toward a cashless society grows, mobile payment represents a way to speed up almost every stage of the travel journey. Instead of using cards and cash for transactions, the likes of Alipay and WeChat Pay in China have become the new way consumers make purchases. As China’s burgeoning middle class continue to travel and spend billions, overseas travel brands have an enormous opportunity to cash in by catering to their preferred payment method.
 
Overall, travel marketers need to consider how they can partner with wallet players as consumers become more comfortable with mobile payment. Increased familiarity among younger generations will almost certainly drive future growth, and the opportunities for smoother travel, enhanced marketing, mobile-based loyalty and enhanced engagement are significant.
About The Author
Brendon Granger
Director
Technology4Hotels


With a great passion for all things hotels, but in particular technology and a desire to help others, his role as director at Technology4Hotels allows him to do both.

Brendon has worked with hundreds of hotels to help them with their in-room technology. In the last few years he has helped them to increase guest satisfaction, strengthen guest loyalty and encourage repeat bookings as well as win awards such as the best business hotel, best city hotel, best upscale hotel and best luxury hotel in Australasia.

Always going the extra mile, Brendon began his hospitality career over 25 years ago working in five-star hotels whilst completing his bachelor of business in hotel management. He has held various management positions within five-star hotels, worked as a consultant in both hotel feasibility and technology and has an extensive background in hotel technology.

 
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