Are You Getting The Most From Your Hotel’s Mobile Marketing Strategy?

It’s no surprise that with so many smartphones available on the market today - and the number of smartphone users worldwide expected to exceed one billion by 20131 - mobile marketing has become an essential component to your hotel’s overall marketing strategy.

O'Rourke Hospitality Marketing Since developing mobile content for various operating systems takes time and resources, you want to be sure your mobile marketing efforts are reaching as many prospective customers as possible.
So how do you know if your mobile strategy is working to its fullest potential? Here are some things to consider:
1. Be Where Your Audience Is
The global smartphone market has grown exponentially seemingly overnight and shows no signs of slowing down. While this can be intimidating to hotels that may still have limited resources to devote to mobile marketing, it’s important to remember that you do not need to be all things to all users. Don’t worry about developing an app or mobile website that will work flawlessly on all operating systems; chances are good you’ll never get there, and you’ll spend more time and energy wondering where you went wrong then you will reaping the rewards of the effort. Instead, focus on developing for the platforms that have proven themselves to be front-runners in the mobile marketplace. These include the Apple iPhone and the Google-backed Open Handset Alliance’s (OHA) Android platform.
According to a report released by Canalys2 on November 1, global Android sales skyrocketed from a mere 1.4 million in 3rd quarter 2009 to more than 20 million in 3rd quarter 2010. While Nokia still holds the worldwide lead in smartphone market share at 33%, Android phones are not far behind, accounting for 25% of worldwide sales. Apple ranked third, at 17%. 
Even more impressive is Android’s steady growth in the U.S. market. As shown in the chart below, smartphones running on OHA’s Android platform led the way in quarter 3, capturing 43.6% share. Apple ranked second, with 26.2% share.
“Android has been well received by the market and in some geographies, it is becoming a sought-after consumer brand. It has rapidly become the platform to watch,” said Pete Cunningham, senior analyst at Canalys.
With more than 300,000 apps3 in the Apple App Store and more than 100,000 apps currently available in the growing Android Marketplace, it’s clear that the iPhone and Android markets are here to stay. Thus, targeting both iPhone and Android users with your mobile marketing strategy will help you to reach the largest number of guests, creating more opportunities for increased hotel revenue.
2. An App or a Mobile Website?
There has been much discussion in the mobile sphere about which is better: mobile websites or mobile apps.  While both products have pros and cons, the mobile app arguably provides a better user experience. While most mobile browsers don’t support JavaScript or Flash, app developers have full control over the way text and images are displayed in a mobile app. And because an app fills a smartphone’s entire screen, distracting browser toolbars don’t impede the user experience. There are also no compatibility issues when apps are downloaded on the devices for which they were built.
Mobile apps also promote customer loyalty, as once an app is downloaded and appears on a phone’s home screen, users are more likely to return to that app in the future then they are to conduct a new mobile web search for a similar product or place.
Apps can also support more interactive features than mobile websites. For example, some apps permit hotels to send unlimited messages and special offers to their guests, making for a much more personalized experience.
This is not to say that you should avoid mobile websites altogether. However, be aware that they can cause technical problems for users, since mobile sites often do not display the same way across browsers. Some hotels opt to incorporate both apps and mobile websites into their mobile strategy to ensure they obtain the best results. But if resources are limited, choosing to go mobile with a branded app may be the smartest choice.
3. Use Proven Marketing Techniques To Promote Your Mobile Presence
So you’ve taken the plunge and developed an app for your hotel. Now what? Promoting the app to past, current and potential guests is essential if you expect your app to bring you any financial benefit. Creating a print and web marketing campaign that introduces your app, explains its features, and provides easy downloading instructions will help spread the word that your hotel has gone mobile. Posters, check-in stuffers, retractable banners, online banner ads and e-mail campaigns have all proven to be effective marketing strategies in the past, so why not utilize these tactics to promote your new mobile persona?
4. Where Do I Start?
If you’re worried that building an app for your hotel will be too costly or labor-intensive, rest easy. Smartstay, the mobile solution for hotels developed by O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing and DeCare Systems Ireland, Ltd., was designed exclusively for the hospitality travel industry. With versions for both iPhone and Android, the Smartstay platform makes it easy for hotels, resorts, restaurants, casinos, golf clubs and cruise lines to create branded apps that are unique, dynamic and flexible for only a fraction of the cost of building an app entirely from scratch. What’s more, Smartstay can also provide an App Promo Kit to help you market your new app to your audience.
To see how Smartstay works on an Android device, check out our latest video:

To learn more about how you can maximize your hotel’s mobile marketing strategy or for more information about Smartstay, please call 888-965-5955 or e-mail
1. Source: Informa Telecoms & Media, September 20, 2010
2. Source: Canalys, November 1, 2010
3. Source:, November 22, 2010,2817,2373169,00.asp

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