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Motel 6 bets on Google Wallet as a recruitment and rewards strategy

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July 9, 2014

Motel 6 looks to Google for new mobile activations

Motel 6 looks to Google for new mobile activations

Motel 6 seeks to deliver an efficient digital booking experience by leveraging Google Wallet for faster and more convenient reservations, signifying the motelier has begun to identify customers’ pain points and mitigate them via mobile.

Motel 6 launched a streamlined booking experience with Google Wallet that will allow customers to pay for their stay using the Buy with Google button. Motel 6 also integrated Google Wallet within its mobile Web site so guests can now book their hotel stay with just a few touches, though it doesn’t really change the booking experience for travelers much without integrating a loyalty program.

“I would really look at what makes Google Wallet, and mobile wallets in general, different than traditional payment methods,” said Alex Campbell, co-founder and chief innovation officer, Vibes, a chicago-based mobile marketing technology company. “How can they help the customer have a better experience at Motel 6?  What about including loyalty into the payment process?”

“Mobile phones are so important to customers that anytime a customer uses his or her phone it’s a great opportunity to interact with them on a personal level,” he said

Pillow talk
A recent report from Juniper Research has found that 1 in 5 mobile devices will be integrated with a mobile wallet functionality by 2018, against less than 1 in 10 at the end of last year. When consumers are given the opportunity to pay for services with their phone, it is just an added level of convenience and yet another reason to interact with their most trusted device.  But it is not all about convenience. There are several brands that have offered mobile pay but have failed. Simply “going mobile” is not a precursor for guaranteed success. The program itself must be well designed and integrated with the in-store experience, as mobile is experiential and engaging factors must be considered for brands looking to successfully establish a footprint in a consumer’s mobile wallet.

Google Wallet is an application that securely stores customer’s credit card information and provides a fast and easy way for people to book a reservation. After selecting the Motel 6 location within the Motel 6 mobile website, travelers can complete their reservation using the “Buy with Google” button.

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The prior sole call-to-book option

For guests who do not have a Google Wallet account, information is saved securely the first time they make a reservation through this method of payment.

Something about Google
Google’s biggest challenge in the payments space is the fact that it is Google. With well over 90 percent of revenues derived from advertising related activities, savvy merchants are well aware of Google’s intentions. It is after data.

Larger merchants, and especially tier-one merchants, want Google nowhere near their transaction data. They also view Google as a social intermediary – an entity that is coming in between their brand and the customer. The fear is that brand engagement will be diluted. 

However, merchants should not completely disregard third-party payment applications such as Google Wallet. These can serve as valuable customer acquisition tools that attract new shoppers into a store. While merchant-branded payment apps are great for already loyal customers, an app like Google Wallet can help bring in new customers.

Best Western has also joined the ranks of more than a dozen travel companies, including Booking.com, Priceline.com, Oribtz, Hipmunk, Travelocity Kayak, Airbnb, Hilton Hotels and others, that are using Google Wallet as collateral for mobile bookings.

Best Western boasts that its customers can complete a purchase “in as few as two clicks” and hopes the feature will make booking easier for a more seamless path to purchase. Similarly, Booking.com and Priceline enables users of Google Hotel Finder to make reservations via Google Wallet.

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Best Western’s Google Wallet integration

While mobile wallet adoption in the U.S. has not reached a point of ubiquity as in China, analysts’ reason that consumer doubt is accredited it to the hesitancy to change behavior, and that decisions concerning money do not prompt fast action or adoption like in other segments.

One of the challenges is that there is no industry standard yet or platform that is used on a widespread basis. As new tech continues to surface, hotels are at the forefront of piloting a variety of solutions. Another barrier is informing consumers about the availability and benefits a mobile wallet can provide, though retailers can educate through incentives to make users more comfortable.

Jamba Juice recently used the Isis Wallet for its promotion of giving away a million smoothies. To receive the offer, customers had to use the app to download the coupon for a free product and use Isis Wallet to pay for the smoothie. Over the course of the promotion, Jamba Juice saw a huge increase in the number of customers using the Isis Wallet to pay for other purchases as well.

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Fans are persuaded to try Isis via Jamba for a treat

Despite the need to educate and familiarize customers, many brands are opting to implement an ewallet to integrate with their existing loyalty and rewards programs. Omni Hotelscurrently uses Google Wallet for its loyalty program and has reported very positive feedback from guests which may lead the hotelier to foray into the payment portion at some point in the future.

Mobile wallets offer many solutions that are especially appealing to hospitality chains such as Motel 6, as they are focused on repeat customers and prowl for integration opportunities.

“While this use case gives Motel 6 customers the ability to pay with Google rather than a credit card, it doesn’t really take into account what makes Google Wallet different than standard payment options,” Mr. Campbell said.

“A customer still has to load their payment information into Google Wallet which means it may actually be more complicated to pay via Google Wallet than just a credit card.  I give Motel 6 credit for taking a first step but there is a lot of valuable functionality they could be using with Google Wallet that isn’t in this iteration.”

“I’m looking forward to future iterations to see them include functionality.  For example, they could automate the checkout process using Google Wallet’s location functionality.  When the customer leaves the hotel they could alert them and ask them if they’d like to check out via phone rather than come to the desk,” he said.

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Michelle Saettler is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer, New York. Reach her at michelle@mobilemarketer.com.

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