Last week I met with Lawrence Coburn, CEO of San Francisco-based software company RateItAll, and an expert on location-based mobile services.
His company is developing a new mobile application – DoubleDutch – that I think could significantly change the way hotels think about mobile marketing.
I frequently receive questions from people asking what their mobile strategy should be. Should they develop their own app? Should they rely on an online travel agency such as Expedia or Travelocity?
Usually, neither of these paths is optimal. Creating a brand new application is impractical for the vast majority of hotels, and using another company's tool doesn't provide the level of branding and customization needed.
Plus, the principal opportunity I see in mobile is in service and cross-selling – not in new room bookings.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the primary business benefit of a service such as foursquare is that it drives loyalty and repeat customers. Users can check in whenever they visit a location: a new extension of the traditional hotel loyalty model. Management can reward the specific activities they're trying to promote.
This is where a tool such as DoubleDutch may come in.
Designed to be white labeled for individual hotel groups, it could be completely branded and customized to yield the experience you want to provide. Lawrence describes it as "a mix of Yelp and Foursquare." (Two of the hottest geo-location platforms in US mobile right now.)
Geolocation services are perfect for travel. When I arrive in a new city I want to know which places are best in my neighborhood.
Lawrence envisions the tool being used as a concierge application. Something that people can take around with them as they explore the city. The advantage of DoubleDutch over foursquare is that it is a completely branded experience. It allows you as a hotel to connect with the guests even when they're not on your property.
Relationships could be developed with local businesses for cross promotion. It lets you help guests discover new places, and even connect guests with each other. It's all about discovery.
Additionally, the hotels could keep info on separate tabs in the application. This might be used to share special promotions, or just updates from your hotel blog.
The application can update Twitter and Facebook, so there is a viral component built in to encourage word-of-mouth buzz.
I guess I like this so much because it combines next-generation technology with my core value: a concierge-approach to marketing. This new service-based style of mobile promotions is the future, and I expect it to go mainstream in the months ahead.
I'd really like to create a case study on this could work for a hotel, and Lawrence has agreed to arrange this. We need a few early adopters to give this a test.Anyone here want to try this out for your hotels?Original article: www.hotelmarketingstrategies.com/doubledutch-hotels About the author
This blog is written by Josiah Mackenzie, who enjoys exploring the relationship between emerging technology and the hospitality industry.