Originally published on Hospitality Technology on February 07, 2017
For some hoteliers, the new year represents hope – the anticipation of better RevPAR, occupancy, loyalty, and online reviews. For others, it’s the beginning/ending of a long-awaited renovation or the adopting/deploying of new technology. For futurists, it means that as an industry, hospitality is just three short years away from 2020 – the target date that many predict will unleash unprecedented, irreversible change for hotels. For guests – especially Millennials and Gen Xers – the new year brings them one step closer to having a completely immersive digital experience; one that enables them to jump between platforms (mobile and desktop) as they please, and seamlessly connect all four stages of their journey: Booking, Check In, the Stay, and Check Out.
MyCheck predicts that in 2020 there will be these four changes to the hotel process: 1) Booking: The focus in 2020 will be on mobile-centric guest personalization; 2) Check-in: The hotel of the future will be without a front desk. A guest will walk into the lobby then straight to the room, as the room number was already sent along with a token that will unlock the door; 3) The Stay: Roomservice and restaurant dining will look quite different, with nearly all transactions being made via smartphone or tablet; 4) Check-Out: Guests will review folios in real time on their smartphones and pull from their mobile wallets to settle the folio on the fly.
Thanks to advances in mobile payment technology, including a master digital wallet, it is possible for hotels to already offer these services to guests. Adding a mobile payment platform to a hotel’s existing mobile app or mobile website can help customize the digital guest experience and increase customer engagement. By giving guests more mobile payment options at the time of booking, the entire guest experience becomes frictionless.
Hotels, however, have struggled to interface with more than one mobile wallet. Adding a single wallet provider to the hotels booking engine is relatively easy, but adding Apple Pay, MasterPass, Visa Checkout and PayPal, plus traditional credit cards, debit cards and pre-paid cards took several months – and it came with a hefty price tag. And with the wallet market ever expanding, this task seems to have no end.
Today, a “master digital wallet” can support the many mobile wallets on the market, and the mobile payment platform will store the credit-card information on their servers above property and not in each hotel’s booking engine, PMS or POS. Better yet, a property doesn’t need to be part of a major brand to implement it, and there is no tabletop hardware required to support it.
‘Hello’ Master Digital Wallet
In February, RLHC (Red Lion Hotels Corp.) is scheduled to launch a master digital wallet with mobile payment functionality into its “Hello Rewards” mobile loyalty app. The second release, planned for Q1, will enable an end-to-end experience on and off property – from making reservations, checking in and viewing the hotel folio, to ordering room service, paying in restaurants and grab-and-go counters, and checking out. Hello Rewards members can manage and store multiple payment methods in the app. Then, integration to each hotel’s POS/PMS systems will let guests view all transactions along their journey. This app with master digital wallet now serves as a single portal for everything guests need to interact with Red Lion hotels on and off property. This is a clear example of a hotel company giving its guests 2020 service in 2017.
In the first part of this two-part series, MyCheck will describe how a master digital wallet can help hotels drive mobile-centric guest personalization at the Booking and Check-in stages of the customer journey. Stay tuned for the second part of this two-part series where MyCheck will describe how a master digital wallet can help drive guest personalization during the stay and at check-out.
Stage 1: Booking
To give guests more flexibility at the time of booking, the hotel’s mobile app with master digital wallet must have integration to the booking engine. If the guest wishes to become a member of the hotel’s loyalty program, an integrated master digital wallet will push stored guest information and populate that data into the loyalty registration fields. This enables guests to get through the loyalty adoption process more quickly. If the guest is already a loyalty member, their mobile wallets and preferences data is stored, helping to speed the process on the next visit. The result is twofold: 1) lower abandonment rates (because guests won’t get frustrated that they must spend extra time entering personal data and payment information into the registration fields) and 2) higher adoption of loyalty programs.
Stage 2: Check In
Today, mobile technology is enabling guests to say farewell to the front desk, and with a master digital wallet tied to the hotel’s app, it can do even more to speed the check in process. Here’s how it works: At the time a reservation is placed, the guest uploads all mobile wallets and other traditional forms of payment into the hotel’s master digital wallet. Twenty-four hours prior to arrival, the guest receives a push notification encouraging them to remotely check in. Other prompts such as “choose my room” or “upgrade my room” are offered to personalize the stay, boost revenues and drive satisfaction and loyalty. Upon arrival, the guest can bypass the front desk and use the smartphone as a room key. When the guest arrives at the room, he or she will see that his room type preference was granted and personalized amenities are provided.
To read the second part of this two-part series, click here.