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How Marriott is using mobile messaging to transform visiting a hotel

Marriott Hotels is redefining the hotel visit with mobile at the center, enabling members of its loyalty program to engage in real-time conversations with staff before, during and after a visit through the brand?s application.  

While several other hotel brands have recently moved towards mobile messaging to help guests communicate their needs during their stay, what is unique about the Marriott strategy is that guests can also chat with the hotel prior to their arrival. For on-the-go guests, this means being able to simply tap once on the Marriott Mobile app icon to be instantly connected to their hotel rather than having to find the hotel?s phone number and key in the digits. 

?Mobile Request is the first-ever 2-way chat feature of its kind launched by a global hotel brand," said Michael Dail, vice president of global brand marketing for Marriott Hotels & Resorts at Marriott International.
?Mobile Request is seamlessly integrated into the Marriott app, enabling you to communicate with your hotel before, during and after your stay,? he said. ?It?s a more personalized experience because it?s integrated with all the other features of the Marriott Mobile app such as check in, check out and room ready alerts. 

?Unlike other hotel apps in which you?re able to communicate once you arrive, our Marriott Rewards members will be able to communicate before their stay, which is critically important for requests such as needing a car service from the airport, ordering an in-room amenity for arrival, or even something as simple as asking for an early check-in.?

Marriott Hotels is the flagship brand of Marriott International.

Instant connections
?The new Mobile Request Anything Else? chat feature is now available in the Marriott Hotels app, enabling travelers to instantly connect with Marriott Hotel staff. Mobile Request also encompasses a drop-down menu with most requested services and amenities, such as extra towels and pillows. 

The Mobile Request service, which kicked off at 46 hotels yesterday, is designed to make it easy for guests to request services and amenities from their mobile device. It will be launched globally at 500 Marriott Hotels worldwide this summer and at additional Marriott International brands after the rollout for Marriott Hotels is completed. 

Marriott held a promotional event to kick off the new service, surprising New Yorkers with gifts and services requested through Twitter. 

Global communications roll out
The mobile chat strategy represents the broadest global communications roll out of its kind in the hotel industry, per Marriott. 

The service will be available to the 50 million members of Marriott Rewards. 

Members who have an upcoming reservation will be able to communicate with their hotel by leveraging the two-way chat functionality to have conversations in real time with staff who can fulfill and confirm their requests. Loyalty members with reservations can order services and amenities from their mobile devices beginning up to 72 hours before their stay.

Marriott reports that tests of the new service suggest it is beneficial for guests in transit who want to request services such as having a car service meet them at the airport. 

The hotel chain reports that of the more than 10,000 Mobile Requests made by guests during testing, 80 percent of guests chose the Anything Else? two-way chat option.

Mobile travelers?
The launch of Mobile Request reflects the strong adoption of smartphones, with approximately 75 percent of travelers having one or more mobile devices with them, according to Marriott. The number is even higher for younger travelers. 

Armed with smartphones and tablets, travelers are looking to be able to communicate with hotel staff on their own terms. 

Mobile Request joins Marriott?s other mobile services such as mobile check-in, checkout and room ready alerts. 

The chain is also piloting keyless entry with mobile devices at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, recently announced a new app for the Apple Watch and is planning to introduce Apple Pay this summer.

?It?s about immediacy ? our guests are able to have a dialogue via our app and know their request is being taken care of without needing to follow up or break their routine,? Mr. Dail said. ?We believe just as you can text with friends and family, why not be able to text with your hotel or any travel company? 
?As technology continued changing consumer behaviors, we know our guests want control in how they communicate with us, including through their preferred way of communicating, via their mobile devices ? we want to be there with them, and the Marriott Hotels Mobile Request feature will offer more choice, instant contact, and the convenience of not needing to pick up the phone or walk to the front desk,? he said. 

Final Take?
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York