Connect with hotel guests using the right technology

EHL Faculty | 2 Mar, 2016

When searching for that sweet spot in attracting customers to make a reservation, a hotel’s management team has a wealth of opportunities. From the basic personal computer to handheld devices including smartphones and tablets, technology provides the hospitality industry with a new realm of possibilities for connecting with future guests… along with the challenge of keeping up with the tech learning curve. Indeed, multiple devices means adapting to various platforms.

Today, a potential guest might use a smartphone to search for hotel ideas in an area they are planning to visit. They typically also have a tablet to look at the properties in more detail thanks to a larger screen. To search for the best rates in the region, they may turn to their desktop computer with a keyboard offering the greatest ease of typing, while the less tech-savvy users are more likely to use their phone to call hotel staff for information. Of course, people also use the good old method of asking friends for travel advice.

So, how can hospitality management respond to this all-inclusive marketplace? Which of these devices are best suited for each type of traveler, and how can hotel managers determine which ones they should focus their marketing efforts on? Can you effectively market to them all? This is where our latest research comes into play, with an investigation of the multiple devices and information sources used by customers before reserving a hotel room.

In our study, we used a questionnaire approach, along with a snowball sample resulting in 383 responses. A majority of participants were females between 20 and 29 years old. Respondents fit into four distinct groups in terms of tech use: PC users, tablet users, smartphone users and traditional phone call users. Here are the results:

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Of note, 25% of respondents simultaneously use tablets, smartphones and phone calls. Users typically opt for tablets and smartphones to search, before turning to desktop computers to secure the booking.

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The device used for research has an impact on the searching method: for instance, people turning to smartphones and phone calls are more likely to ask friends and family members for travel advice, while tablet users are more likely to use online travel agents and search engines. 

Our study also shows that users are more likely to stick to a specific type of device or method throughout the process. Smartphone users don’t turn to their PC or tablet as often, and vice versa for other devices. Overall, the most usable device for both searching and booking is the desktop computer. While this is important to understand, hotel managers must be aware that using online travel agents and search engine optimization will not work for all users. Indeed, a portion of users still have a tendency to pick up the phone or ask for advice from loved ones to make purchasing decisions.

Now that you are aware of the different ways users are engaging in the search and booking processes, you should know where to focus your marketing efforts. Maintaining a consistent online experience for customers is key, and desktop computers remain essential for users in need of a hotel room.

Read the entire study

Authors: Dr. Hilary Murphy and Dr. Meng-Mei Chen - Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, HES-SO (University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland)


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