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Hilton exec: Mobile transactions are table stakes for hotels

September 26, 2013

Hilton's iPhone app

NEW YORK – A Hilton executive at the Mobile Marketing Association’s SM2 conference said that hotel brands have a bigger opportunity with mobile than to simply drive transactions.

During the “Create buzz: Find your brand’s voice in mobile: Success strategies to stay ahead of the competition” session, the Hilton executive spoke about how brands need to set up a mobile strategy with a consumer-first mentality. Multiple hotel brands are dominating in mobile when it comes to transactions, but not as many are building comprehensive strategies that elevate the guest experience.

“Mobile plus hospitality is absolutely transactional,” said Virginia Suliman, vice president of digital design and development at Hilton International, McLean, VA.

“We excel at transactions and the ability to book a room quickly, the ability to get to your room quickly – those things in hospitality are table stakes,” she said.

“Whatever it is that you are trying to do as a traveler, we have to make the transaction really quick, really fast and really convenient for our guests, and so for me that’s where the fun begins.”

Book on mobile
According to Ms. Suliman, the challenge and opportunity with mobile is to keep it a short, consistent and rich experience for guests.

Brevity is particularly important with mobile since consumers have much shorter attention spans nowadays.

For example, most tweets these days include links and photos to give consumers access to additional information beyond the 140 characters.

Although it is easy for marketers to get swayed by technology, the consumer always comes first. If done incorrectly, mobile and digital risk isolating consumers, per Ms. Suliman.

Mobile has the ability to help brands understand the buying habits of a consumer.

Hilton’s iPhone app

Looking back
Instead of constantly looking for the next big technology, brands can look back at their history for inspiration when it comes to technology.

Similarly, brands need to understand that mobile is not a business or marketing phenomenon. It is a human phenomenon.

Nowadays, the idea of a mobile traveler is redundant because every consumer is mobile.

Marketers also need to prioritize which initiatives are most important in not only driving sales, but also building a longer-term strategy.

At the same time, testing different mobile tactics is critical in getting hotel brands to innovate.

“For Hilton, it’s all about taking that conversion spot – we know it, and we do it well with beautiful resorts, we’ve been around a long time,” Ms. Suliman said.

“Bringing that together with anytime, anywhere fashion requires a lot of discipline, but it doesn’t mean to not innovate at all,” she said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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