Blurring the Divide Between Traditional Hospitality and the Online World

October 29, 2012 - 0 Comments

Featuring a special guest post by Antonio DiMilia, Industry Director, Cisco Hospitality and Travel

Summary: Mobile devices have become staple items for many travelers.  During their stay, they expect to receive the same quality of experience in the hotel as they would receive at home or in the office. Read more to learn how Cisco is helping hoteliers adapt to the changing needs of hotel guests and lay the ground-work for the future for hotels.

The explosive growth of smart devices is constantly changing the hospitality industry and challenging hoteliers to quickly adapt to guests’ needs and expectations. By 2015, 58 percent of U.S. mobile users will have smartphones; this number is significantly higher than the 38 percent reported in 2011. One of the main reasons for this rise is the user experience smart phones provide.  I often try to imagine my life without a smart phone, along with all of the challenges I would face without it. In my line of work, it is crucial that I have mobile access to my email and Internet. Sometimes I wonder how as a society, we functioned before smartphones, and I’m assuming this is true for many others accustomed to smartphones as well. Smart devices are no longer a trend, but a reality and businesses have to adapt.

The spike in smart devices is changing the guest experience and driving change in Wi-Fi requirements across hotels. Fortunately, Cisco technology approaches the deployment of Wi-Fi with a holistic strategy.  Unlike proprietary systems and multiple isolated networks applied by many manufacturers today, a single network infrastructure provides a reliable and scalable technological consistency throughout the hotel. The Cisco converged network is more than just access; it provides a solid foundation for deploying mobile applications.

When Wi-Fi is enabled in a hotel, the guest, cellular carrier, service provider and hotel all win. Because there is limited cellular coverage inside some hotels, it’s important that Wi-Fi is enabled so guests can still fully leverage their smart phone’s capabilities during their stay.  Consistent and reliable Wi-Fi experiences improves the guest experience, better serves customers, and enables revenue growth opportunities with hospitality-specific mobile applications that span guest services to way-finding to engaging interactively with guests through local relevant personalized content and services. This is an area I wish to focus on.

Cisco technology allows hotels to use the network to engage with customers and leverage it as a revenue producer, rather than a cost center.  For example, once connected to the Wi-Fi network, guests can download a loyalty application to their smart device and use it to read reviews about local restaurants, call for valet, check the business office hours and more. Advertisements, whether they be on a portal page, layered on top of localized apps, or are pay for product placements, are the best way to monetize the network. Cisco technology enables the hotels to add analytics to these mobile applications. This allows hotels to gain customer insights by tracking behaviors and buying patterns, which can be used to improve future mobile marketing initiatives.

As the demand for smart devices and mobile applications grows, Cisco will continue to meet the needs of hotel guest across the globe. After all, the guest experience is our number one priority and we know guests rely on their smart devices throughout their entire stay.

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