From digital room keys to mobile room service ordering, poolside drink delivery, and everything in between, the hotel and resort industry is adopting mobile at a rapid pace.
It’s no secret that mobile technology has dominated our lives. In ten years, the number of Americans who own smartphones has risen from 35% to 85%, while 97% of the entire population owns “a cell phone of some kind.”
In addition to mobile adoption, a global pandemic has forced businesses in all industries to rethink how they serve their customers, and hotels are no exception.
With a robust tech stack, including food and beverage solutions like CardFree’s location-based delivery, mobile room service ordering, charge-to-room, and on-site kiosks, hotels can offer a completely mobilized guest experience.
How Mobile Is Taking Over Hotels
From displaying our vaccination status with a QR code to buying a new car, mobile connectivity is so intertwined with daily life that it’s hard to imagine any business without it, including hotels.
In the hotel industry, guests use their phones to pay for rooms, check in and out, order room service, and a lot more. According to HotelTechReport, 46% of guests think that having a mobile key for their room is important to them.
We’re not far from a world where guests using their phones to unlock their rooms is as ubiquitous as hotel key cards are today. In fact, that world is virtually here already, as Hilton’s digital keys have opened more than 135 million guestrooms since the company introduced the technology in 2015.
A recent study from hotel software company, stayntouch reports that “hospitality tech used by hotels increased by 31% between the start of the pandemic and the end of 2021.” The study goes on to note that these technologies solved problems that arose because of the pandemic, particularly “surrounding ‘contactless’ experiences.” Many hotels also had to operate with smaller staffs after the onset of the pandemic, ushering in further automation and the adoption of new tech.
The Benefits of Mobile Connectivity for Hotels
Mitigate Labor Issues
Not only does mobile tech solve problems for guests, but it’s equally – if not more – beneficial for business operators. The report by stayntouch finds a correlation between the departments of hotels that can be supported by technologies in lieu of a smaller staff versus the actual technology being used.
The top four categories on the chart above are jobs normally done by the front desk alone. This has a major impact on business operations–hotels are cutting the cost of labor by using cheaper and equally efficient technology.
On the food and beverage side, the adoption of mobile ordering is not only easing the pain of labor issues, but also padding the bottom line. In fact, CardFree clients see an average 30% boost in check size on digital orders compared to orders placed the old fashioned way.
A study from Hotel Management, which surveyed 7,000 travelers finds that 47% of respondents would be more likely to order room service or takeout from a hotel restaurant if they were able to use a mobile room service ordering app.
Putting that theory to the test, the first hotel client CardFree launched with mobile room service ordering (with integrated room charge) saw a 70% increase in room service!
It isn’t surprising to learn, then, that the hotel industry at large plans to use more mobile tech, as a recent Hospitality Tech study shows that 66% of hotels intend to increase their IT budgets in 2022.
On the flip side of that, some hoteliers surveyed in the stayntouch report are doubtful of new technology for reasons including:
- Difficulty with integrations
- Lack of scalability
- Hospitality “losing its essence”
While some skepticism is understandable, many tech platforms on the market are designed to seamlessly work with your hotel’s existing tech stack. Services like CardFree integrate with nearly all POS systems, payment processors, and hotel management software, making setup fast and simple. CardFree’s tech is also built with scalability in mind, with over 2.1 billion transactions processed at over 20,000 locations.
In an industry traditionally driven by customer service and personal touches, it’s no surprise that some hoteliers are hesitant to adopt new technology that eliminates certain person-to-person interactions. Contrary to this “fear of losing the essence of hospitality,” coupling mobile tech with an engaging, well-trained staff can actually enhance the customer experience. When items like payments, ordering, or scheduling are taken off your staff’s plate, they are free to focus on other areas of customer service, more easily tend to individual guests, and provide more personalized service.
Improve Guest Satisfaction
It’s also worth noting that 52% of Hospitality Tech survey respondents reported that guests increasingly prefer digital service encounters over encounters with staff.
For the guest, all of this goes back to the core idea behind mobile tech, that convenience is king. That convenience in your hotel can have a major impact on one of the less enjoyable aspects of travel–the waiting game. At major hotel chains, long check-in lines and crowds waiting to order food and drinks are still a problem, especially at peak hours and seasons. When guests are only staying for a short time, they can end up losing a decent portion of their stay waiting in lines. Mobile tech can remedy this by allowing guests to check-in, order food, schedule a spa appointment, book a tee time, etc. all from their phones.
On top of providing convenience and operational efficiency, hotels are also using mobile tech to engage guests via loyalty programs that go beyond simple discounts or point accruals. Marriott, for example, only provides digital keys to members of their loyalty program, giving guests incentive to participate, especially when it’s as easy as downloading an app.
The World of Hyatt rewards program, ranked one of the top hotel programs, offers members exclusive access to features on their mobile app, allowing them to choose preferred check-in times, enter their room with mobile keys, communicate their room and housekeeping preferences, and even access curated meditations from Headspace and other entertainment via Chromecast.
CardFree at Your Hotel
When planning your hotel’s mobile roadmap, it’s important to select the right partners to integrate into your tech stack. With the CardFree platform, we offer best-in-class mobile ordering, payments, and charge-to-room features built with scalability in mind, easily integrated into POS and hotel management systems.
With CardFree, hotels can offer their guests a number of ways to improve the experience while increasing sales and mitigating labor shortages, including:
- Order-To-Room – Scanning a room-specific QR code, guests can easily place mobile room service orders and have their meal delivered directly to their room without the hassle of calling.
- Charge-To-Room – Whether guests use digital ordering (room service, pickup, at the table) or Pay@Table, they can easily “charge-to-room” in seconds using their last name and room number.
- Pay@Table – Guests can easily pay their bill at hotel restaurants without waiting for their server simply by scanning a QR code, adding a tip, and choosing their payment method.
- Order@Table – Guests can order from their mobile device – with or without a server – while keeping an open tab / ticket in the POS.
- On-Site Delivery – Guests scan a QR code specific to a location (poolside, business center, etc.) and have their order brought right to them.
- Order Ahead – Enable guests to quickly and easily order ahead for pickup via mobile with charge-to-room features.
- On-Site Kiosks – Guests can order, pay, and charge-to-room from your hotel restaurants via branded interactive menus with on-site touchscreen kiosks.
Convenience is king, and mobile is the king of convenience.
The hotel industry is only increasing its adoption of mobile technology with a projected 75% increase in self-service check-in and a 59% increase in digital payments, all by the end of 2022. Now is the time for hotel operators to plan their digital roadmap and seize the new opportunities created by mobile connectivity.
If your business is prepared to get mobile ready, drop us a line and we’ll be in contact with more info.