In Blog Articles, Hospitality, Location-Based Services

We’ve written quite a lot on how mobile wayfinding helps people find their way around busy, confusing environments, like airport terminals and hospitals. Having a personal digital navigator helps ease the passenger’s or hospital visitor’s stress and speed them through the facility as quickly as possible.

But what about environments where people want to explore—such as resorts, casinos or theme parks? In these environments, mobile wayfinding really shines. It puts a personal explorer’s guide right in the user’s pocket, helping people discover new points of interest and make the most of their stay. And while enhancing the guest experience, mobile wayfinding can also help drive incremental on-property spend and improve guest services’ efficiency and performance.

5 Reasons Mobile Wayfinding Is a Smart Investment for Hospitality Brands

A recent article in Techzone360 describes how mobile and location technologies are powering the smart hotel of the future, yet the hospitality industry as a whole seems confused about how to start or where to go next. According to Econsultancy’s Digital Trends in the Travel and Hospitality Sectors, mobile experiences and analytics represent the top priority for tech investment in 2018. However, another survey—The 2018 Lodging Technology Study from Hospitality Technology—declares that just 26% of hoteliers plan to upgrade their guest-facing mobile apps in 2018, while 22% plan to add or upgrade location technology.

Confusion aside, mobile-first digital transformation is coming to the hospitality industry, and large properties stand to benefit significantly. Whether it’s added to an existing app or anchoring a new one, mobile wayfinding is a strategic way to gain quick advantages now, while building a scalable foundation for your mobile-first future.

Here are five reasons mobile wayfinding is ideal for large-property hospitality brands:

  1. It personalizes the navigation experience. People carry their smartphones with them everywhere these days and they’re used to relying on mapping apps to navigate when traveling. Mobile wayfinding brings that convenience to app users when they’re on property, even indoors. Digital signage and paper maps just tell people where things are. Mobile wayfinding tells app users where they are in relation to every point of interest on your property and provides turn-by-turn navigation anywhere they want to go.
  2. It streamlines the necessities for your guests. By helping app users find their rooms or parking spots quickly, you’re reducing frustration and speeding them towards the enjoyment (and hopefully spending) part of their stay.
  3. It facilitates discovery. As users explore their interactive map of your property, they discover points of interest along the way and can quickly and easily tap or swipe to get more information. Push notifications also invite further exploration—for example, as an app user passes a particular shop or spa, a push notification could be triggered to entice or incentivize a visit. (Mobile engagement also opens up potential revenue-driving partnerships with retailers and food service concessionaires.)

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  4. It can be built on a scalable and flexible foundation. Because the most advanced mobile wayfinding works with a wide range of sensor and location technologies and at different levels of granularity, you can start with the most affordable approach and expand your investment and use cases over time. For example, you can lay a foundation with static wayfinding, enabled by GPS and your existing Wi-Fi infrastructure, then move to real-time “blue dot” wayfinding with more extensive beacon, vBLE and/or smart lighting implementations as your roadmap extends. Increasing beacon density enables greater precision and accuracy and, as you expand, also enables you to use those beacons to trigger more use cases. For example, increasing beacon density on a casino floor might enable app users to navigate directly to their favorite slot machines or tables, or enable a virtual treasure hunt experience for resort patrons with kids.)
  5. It’s attractive to multiple target audiences.
    • For vacation travelers, mobile wayfinding offers an added convenience, intriguing technology and a more personalized experience.
    • For meeting planners, it’s a way to help attendees reach specific events and locations relaxed and on time, navigate complex floor plans and even attract conference partners by extending wayfinding to the booth level on a convention floor.
    • For large group travel, mobile wayfinding offers a way to keep large groups connected with tour leaders, find each other easily and navigate to specific meeting points and events with ease.
    • For online travel agents, it’s an added proof point that your property is staying on top of consumer technology trends and ensuring an ideal guest experience.

Use Cases for Enhancing the Guest Experience

With a personal explorer’s guide to your property, guests will be able to:

  • Find their rooms quickly and with less frustration
  • Discover new points of interest on every journey—including retail and food services, entertainment venues, rides and experiences, etc.
  • Locate empty parking and find their cars later (with parking system integration)
  • Take the fastest route to amenities and points of interest (especially useful when running late to a show, for example, or hurrying to get to a specific ride or spa appointment)
  • Use location sharing to find friends and family anywhere on property or to locate the nearest staff member

Use Cases for Improving Operations and Driving Revenue

Mobile wayfinding isn’t just for guests. By adding wayfinding to employee mobile apps, you can empower even temporary staff to be more efficient and productive while gathering valuable contextual data about both employee movement and guest behavior on property.

With mobile wayfinding in guest and employee apps, your organization can:

  • Integrate with RFID or use beacons to track luggage or cleaning carts and more
  • Utilize location sharing between staff and supervisors to help optimize headcount at key locations and times
  • Share staff member locations with guests to facilitate order delivery, first aid and general guest support
  • Add analytics to track guest traffic patterns and help alleviate bottlenecks
  • Integrate with your guest management platform to personalize staff touchpoints, push notifications and more
  • Collect contextual data on app user behavior while on-property—where they go, where they don’t, frequency of visits, times of day, etc.—then integrate with your guest management platform to better inform your profiles.
  • Improve productivity by optimizing employee routing for room service, food and drink order delivery and more.
  • Partner with retail, food / drink, entertainment and other guest-service concessions for special location-triggered offers, etc.

Among hotel execs, managers and staff:

  • 91% think it’s important to generate insights from guest data to improve the guest experience
  • 86% agree that all hotel employees require mobile access to be most effective in their jobs

Source: The 2017 Smart Decision Guide® to Hotel Guest Experience Management

Choosing a Mobile Wayfinding Partner

Mobile changes fast. Even if you have a digital team that’s familiar with mobile strategy, they may not have the necessary skills or bandwidth to enable mobile wayfinding. That’s why it’s usually best to seek an experienced development partner with a licensable wayfinding solution.

If you need to build a new guest- or employee-facing mobile app, look for a provider with a complete, brandable solution and/or custom development program. If you’re just adding mobile wayfinding to an existing app, look for a provider that offers easily integrated mobile building blocks (known as SDKs, or software development kits) that enable indoor and outdoor mapping, routing, and blue-dot navigation and can be customized for your needs.

In addition, look for a mobile wayfinding partner with:

  • The flexibility to use your choice of enabling technologies (or a combination), as mobile wayfinding can work with GPS, Wi-Fi, physical beacons, virtual beacons and even smart lighting
  • A user-friendly interface that allows you to change maps and points of interest (POIs) easily
  • A proven track record of success with mobile wayfinding (ask for case studies)
  • Experience working in today’s sprawling hospitality and entertainment environments with super-high ceilings and tight corners, huge indoor / outdoor spaces and labyrinthine corridors
  • A lifecycle approach to ensure your mobile presence is built for scalability, expanding use cases and interoperability with myriad mobile technologies

Phunware has been at the forefront of mobile wayfinding for years now, helping organizations across multiple verticals guide and delight app users with personal mapping and navigation tools. Our experience extends from luxury residential to retail and mixed-use properties, large entertainment venues, hospitality environments and more. To learn more about our approach, check out our wayfinding solution videos or download our Hospitality Solution Overview.

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