The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between the use of hotel mobile
applications and, if there are any benefits to the hotels that have employed the use of mobile applications. The study will also analyze any effects on brand loyalty that may arise as a result of introducing hotel mobile applications. Information technology applications have largely been devoted to handling of routine operations. Hotels have been criticized for taking too long to take full advantage of the vast mobile applications available. This paper reports and analyses the findings of a recent survey on mobile applications within the hotel setup.
There are many phones in the market that come with internet services. Presently, there are smart phones in the market that have revolutionized the mobile phone markets. The advantages of these smart phones have brought about a new wave of internet accessibility. According to a research, done by the Master’s School of Culinary Arts, the hospitality sector has been lax in initializing new mobile phone technology. Hotels and other hospitality industry related setups had heavily relied on accessible routes, where customers can easily get to. New internet based applications like travel applications and maps have changed all this. A hotel can be accessed on any part of the world using this app’s. They have also opened the doors for new hotels for the clients, who like to include expeditions on their menu, thus changing the hotel distribution.
Hotel brands that have embraced mobile applications, have managed to create their individual applications to cater for their own brand of clients. An example of a hotel app available on a smart phone menu is bookings and reservations (Hayes 2003). Customized apps for a particular hotel can give the clients the chance to view their preferred rooms before confirming a booking. Such has been made possible by the growth of the mobile phone applications and development of smart phones. Within the social society, this is advantageous, since the client does not have to spend a lot of time going to the hotel personally to make the booking. Customers, receiving such preferred treatment, will become loyal to that particular hotel, since it avails them ease in receiving services. There is no near end to the development of mobile applications. The future looks bright, since more and more mobile applications are being developed aimed at the hotel industry.
There has been an increase in the development and sale of mobile phones. Today more people own smart phones than ever before. This is because the smart phones allow the users an endless array of services and upgrades to the standard applications available on their smart phones. The rise in the advancement of technology software has also given rise to the development of numerous smart phone applications. Many sectors have managed to customize software to fit their forte and allow their clients more of such software to access their services. The hotel industry has been criticized in many aspects for being one of the least developed sectors in this context. The hotel industry has been accused of relying on the older generation of operations rather than embrace the new technology. It is, in this regard, that this study is done.
This research is based on the development of mobile based software used in the hotel industry. The limited numbers of the hotels that have embraced this technology have been studied to assess the degree of, or lack of advantages that they derive from such technology. The same hotels have gone through hurdles in the installation and use of their customized mobile phone applications. This study will show the disadvantages and the limitations of using such applications. It will also inform other hotel owners, who may want to take on these applications on if they make any business and economic sense to the hotel before installing them. Since mobile phone based applications can be customized to fit any hotel setup, this study will prove the importance of having customized hotel applications.
It has been hypothesized that using mobile hotel apps will have a positive effect on the brand awareness, customer engagement and brand commitment, which in turn positively influences on the brand loyalty. The survey was done on smart phone users with smart phone and also because they are the current and future target market in the hospitality industry. This research will contribute to the hotel industry by building an understanding regarding how hotels can manage their brands using new technology for marketing.
In the past, hotels have heavily relied on advertising and brochures to market their devices. Today, it is possible for a hotel to reach more people just by working smart embracing new applications that can be accessed by their target clients at their own pleasure. The smart phone has revolutionized how people communicate. Being that many people lead busy lives, they want easy access to their preferred service providers without having to physically do the bookings. Online bookings have been available in many hotels, but this has been the only internet based applications that the hotels have been using.
Hotels cater for many people, and thus, it is about time that they became updated to the current technological advancement. These days, “Smart Phone functions have been transformed into people daily life for help their mobility become easier and faster” (Guthery 2002). The researcher believes that almost everyone have smart phone these days, because the needs and wants of the people push them to follow the technology development. The hotel industry being a primary player in the provision of essential services should not be lagging behind.
This paper will report on the findings got from the survey carried out on mobile phone applications use in Hong Kong hotels. The study is based on the assumption that the hotel industry has been the least influenced by the onset of new and advanced mobile telephony applications.
Design/ methodology/ approach
The research will focus on information given by respondents through telephone interviews. The research will also use information gathered from questionnaires distributed to respondents working in hotels in Hong Kong. A varied array of technical and behavioral aspects of mobile phone applications will be examined.
A similar study that had been carried out in 2009 had shown that the hotel industry was still lagging behind in its utilization of mobile telephone applications. The report had also shown that hotels were less informed on the advantages of embracing mobile applications. As such, hotels were not using internet based applications for high-level business decision making strategies. This report is aimed at finding out if the hotel industry has since then made any changes to its perception of such applications.
The main limitation for this study may be the reluctance of hotel managers and other hotel administrators to participate in the study.
There is also the rampant level of false information given by managers, who try to show that their hotels are up to date in technological advancement while they are not.
This study and its findings will act as a realistic guideline to the potential benefits a hotel setup can get from utilizing mobile phone applications. It will also analyze the potential of the mobile phone applications, when customized for a particular hotel.
Originality and value
The study and its findings will go a long way in raising the level of awareness on the use of mobile applications in hotels. It will facilitate the pro-activation of Information Technology departments in hotels to incorporate all sections of the hotel in an effort to get easy and reliable services.
There have been a number of studies that have been conducted with intentions of examining how information technology will affect the hospitality. There is little research that has been conducted on the effect of use of mobile applications on the hospitality industry, but there have been a lot of studies conducted on the use of information technology and mobile phones in the hospitality.
According to Jagoe (2003), technology has now become part of life and we cannot do without it, ever since the time of industrial revolution. Technology, if well employed, works in making life better, more efficient and easier. Business organizations have been there for many years, and they will reap from anything that will improve on their production. With the emergence of computers in the 20th century, the business world experienced the new age of information technology (Barth, 2009. For any working business to benefit from the new age of information technology, they have to be in a constant change and adoption of new infrastructure.
Today, a lot of businesses conduct their business on computers and other devices of communication. This computers and communication devices give companies the opportunities to manage their schedules, manage their database and any other important information in their possession (Wood, & Brotherton 2008). A company has to adopt information technology or collapse due to lack of competition. Management has greatly benefitted from employing information technology in the way they run their operations as technology greatly assist in almost all management processes.
In the last decades, there has been a huge stride in development of technology, which has resulted in bringing about a revolution to the world business. The technology has affected all aspects of business and our way of working. Communication anywhere in the world has become very easy, as one can reach any border within second and at very minimal cost (Shi 2004). Workers do need to be with their bosses they can work at home and communicate effectively with their superiors, clients and coworkers. The issue of physical location has been greatly reduced and the costs associated with this have been gradually reduced.
According to Kumar, (2010), the hospitality industry is an industry that is service oriented, where technology has been employed in a much bigger way. The hospitality industry has existed from ancient times, but the hotel today owes it to the development of the railroad. The hotels that used to exist before the 21st century were small, and thus, there was no need for information technology. But with the development of huge hotels and development of chains, the hotel industry has no choice, but to information technology in its business. Today, the hospitality industries, just like in the other industries, have to adopt information technology and be in constant adoption of new technology.
Mobile apps also referred to as mobile applications are software that are built and intended for use in smart phones and computer tablets. The pace, at which smart phones and tablet apps are being developed, is very high and for the industries that consume the apps it is not any difference (Conrady & Buck 2010). The apps can be used by the industries that they are intended for use and help them in attracting, serving and retaining customers. An aspect that has emerged is the competition in all industries to introduce new mobile apps, which will enable businesses to interact better with their consumers.
A lot of consumers today have an access to internet what gives the opportunity to enable people from all walks of life to use apps in trading. Also today there is a high use of smart phones as people can be able to afford and use them (Peterson 2009). In the hospitality industry, the wave of use of smart phones apps has made it convenient for consumers to search, book and pay for hotels from any location. The apps in the hospitality industry are not more advanced than the hotel websites, which have been there for very many years. The hotel apps are more used as they are better optimized to be used in devices, such as smart phones, which are today more widely used or tablets. The hospitality apps have also introduced aspects, such as global positioning thus enabling the experience of a customer better and works in assisting the hotel to establish relationship with the business next to the hotel.
The benefit of these computer apps is that they will assist in increasing consumer loyalty or increase of affinity with the already existing clients. But all the apps that have to be employed in an establishment has to overcome security challenges, just like all new technology as well as challenges in regards to unique, changes in technology among other challenges. Those organizations that are fast in adoption of mobile apps have realized that all challenges can be mitigated by adoption of good network engineering, proper communication and discipline in programming.
There are more consumers every day who are using computer apps every day. Business analysts predict that the trade that involves use of smart phones is on a quick growth and will continue to do this for many years ahead. According to the Cornell School of Hotel Administration on Hospitality (2011), it is projected that there will be a 40% growth rate annually in the development and use of mobile apps. Also, over 45% of people who own smart phones use these devices in planning and managing their daily activities that include finances, travel and dining. In the United States alone, over 79 million people are engaged in leisure travelling and employ social media that include apps in their planning, booking and making payments (Taneja 2011).
When travel companies started developing mobile apps for the industry, which enabled travelers to make reservations, while they are on the go. Hospitality industry has taken advantage of this so, as to improve the travel experience of their clients by enabling the localization of the content in the apps and in the process they create a relationship with the travelers with their brand. The customers who download is crucial to the hotel as it enables the hotels to aware when the guests are on the app and can use this opportunity to contact them and offer coupons or discounts (Pachler et al 2011).
There are some risks that are involved in the use of hospitality apps, but the risks are technology related. Wireless networks are very popular in urban areas, and without wireless networks apps could develop at a very slow pace. Hotels, airports, restaurants and most public places have become accustomed to this wireless networks. Using these wireless networks, there exist risks for users, especially advanced sniffing that may be present in the network. Hackers can gain access to a consumers information, such as credit card information password and misuse the information. But there are some measures that can be employed to save the information, this include strong encryption, use of secure servers and use of strong password among other measures (Jamalipour 2003).
This research will bring new information on the various benefits of use of mobile apps in the society and especially in the hospitality and tourism industry. The paper will also make a review of the information available on the growth of apps development and adoption by the hospitality and tourism industry. The results of this research will also establish a chain of hotels that have developed apps and the benefits they have derived from the use of these apps. Also the research will provide more information on brand and customer loyalty in relation after the use of mobile apps.
This section will introduce the methods that the researcher has chosen to collect information needed for this report. The methods used will clearly give the results and findings that this study sought out to find. The research methods will also be used to prove the hypothesis and in the overall achievement of the aim and objectives of the study.
For the secondary information, the research information is obtained from different published articles and case studies. The secondary sources will be used to provide researched findings and analysis and according to Pizam (2010); ‘Case studies can provide a richness and uniqueness in data.’ Secondary research information is suitable with this research, since it is combining the quantitative and qualitative data (Stair 2012). This paper describes some useful development in the area of travel application in the hospitality industry.
For supporting the findings, the researcher will collect secondary data from literature books related to the new technology, hotel innovation, online application services in the hospitality industry and brand-loyalty, which is related to the topic of this research. All the books for the research report can be found in BHMS Library (The Sage, 2008) and online book stores though the internet. Hopefully, these sources can be used as guidelines to bring out some useful data that is connected to the findings to prove or disprove the hypothesis and reach the aim and objectives of the research.
The method of primary data collection includes two parts. The research will take mid-time period, approximately two months before the final date. The first part will involve the use of open questions through telephone interviews. The research has made contact by mail with a group of employees working in innovation and marketing at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong. This is one of the best hotels utilizing apps in the world. The appointments for the telephone interviews will start on 31st October, 2011 at 10a.m. The question based interviews will be based on 14 interview questions about the hotel application at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong. The research will read the histories about the Mandarin Oriental hotel apps before onset of the interview. This back-up information will be collected by combining both positivism and interpretive in form of realism philosophy. According to Umar, 2004, ‘Realism is based on the belief that a reality exists independently on human thought and beliefs.’ This means that everyone has their own opinion, but there is some limitation in the freedom in expressing their perception. This research is following this philosophy, as the researcher would like to know the different kinds of opinion from the respondents. On the other hand, the questions set will be bordered on a particular area to get the summary of main opinion.
In the second part, the researcher will use observation as a research instrument and will combine the qualitative and quantitative research methods by 11 multiple choice questions. The researcher will deliver questionnaires to business people and travelers in two five star hotels and two four star hotels in Luzern. 30 questionnaires will be distributed in 4 different hotels on the first week of November during the lunch hours. The research assumes that the respondents are middle to upper level in social class. This simulation has been done in order to get as much information as possible due to the lack of resources. At the beginning of the questionnaire, there is a short consent letter addressed to all participants that introduces the product to them that the researcher is doing. The questionnaire also contains biographical questions relating to age, gender and nationality. All the questionnaires will be collected 3 days later and the researcher will start to analyze the information and apply the theories in books, articles and school research methods in class.