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Innovation in the Hospitality Industry

The purpose of this paper is the exploration of a relationship that exists between the mobile applications and the benefits of the hotels if there are any that have employed the use of mobile applications. The study will also analyze the effects on the brand loyalty that may arise as a result of introducing hotel mobile applications. The information technology applications have largely been devoted to handling routine operations. Hotels have been criticized for taking too long to take a complete advantage of vast mobile applications to be 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 a new wave of the internet accessibility. According to the research done by the Master’s School of Culinary Arts, the hospitality sector has been lax while initializing the new mobile phone technology. Hotels and other hospitality industries related setups have heavily relied on the accessible routes that customers could easily get to. The new internet based applications like travel applications and maps have changed all this. The hotel can be accessed being in any part of the world using this app’s. They have also opened the door to the new hotels for clients, who like to include expeditions on their menu, thus, changing the hotel distribution.

The hotel brands that have embraced mobile applications have managed to create the individual applications to cater for their own brand of clients. An example of the hotel app available in a smart phone menu is bookings and reservations (Hayes, K 2003). The customized apps for a particular hotel can give the clients a chance to view their preferred rooms before confirming their booking. Such issue has become possible with the growth of the mobile phone applications and the development of smart phones. Within the social society, this is beneficial since the client does not have to spend a lot of time going to the hotel personally to make the booking. The customers receiving such preferred treatment will become loyal to that particular hotel since it avails them an ease in receiving the necessary 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.

benefits

The relationship between the mobile applications and the benefits which get hotels

There has been an increase in the development and sales of mobile phones. Today more people own smart phones than they have owned ever before. This is because the smart phones allow users to have the endless array of services and upgrades to standard applications available on their smart phones. The rise in the advancement of the technology software has also given the rise to the development of numerous smart phone applications. Many sectors have managed to customize the 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 sectors for being one of the least developed sectors in this context. The hotel industry has been accused of relying on the older generation the operations rather than embracing the new technology. It is in this regard that this study has been done.

This research is based on the development of the mobile based software used in the hotel industry. The limited number of the hotels that have embraced this technology has been studied to assess the degree or the lack of advantages that they derive from such technology. The same hotels have undergone 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 accept these applications if they make any business and any economic sense to the hotel before installing them. Since the mobile phone based applications can be customized to fit any hotel setup, this study will prove the importance of having the customized hotel applications.

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 while working smart and embracing the new applications that can be accessed by their target clients at their own pleasure. The smart phone has revolutionized the way how people are communicating. Being that, many people lead busy lives; they want an easy access to their preferred service providers without having to physically do any bookings. The online bookings have been available in many hotels, but this has been only the internet based applications that the hotels have been using.

Hotels cater for many people, and, thus, it is the time that they have become more updated to the current technological advancement. These days the “Smart Phone functions have been transformed into people daily life for help their mobility become easier and faster” (Guthery, S 2002). The researcher believes that almost everyone has a smart phone nowadays because the needs and the desires of people push them to follow the technological development. The hotel industry, as being a primary player in the provision of essential services, should not be lagging behind.

Purpose

This report will report on the findings received from the survey carried out on the Mobile phone applications used 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 the information given by respondents through the telephone interviews. The research will also use the information gathered from questionnaires distributed to respondents working in the hotels in Hong Kong. A varied array of technical and behavioral aspects of Mobile phone applications will be examined.

Findings

A similar study that had been carried out in 2009 showed that the hotel industry was still lagging behind in its utilization of mobile telephone applications. The report has also shown that hotels were less informed on the advantages of embracing mobile applications. As such, hotels were not using the internet based applications for the high-level business decision-making strategies. This report is aimed at finding out if the hotel industry has since that time made any changes in its perception of such applications.

Research Limitations

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 the false information given by managers trying to show that their hotels are up to date in the technological advancement.

Practical Implications

This study and its findings will act as a realistic guideline to the potential benefits that a hotel setup can get from utilizing mobile phone applications. It will also analyze the potential of mobile phone applications when customized for the particular hotel.

Originality and Value

The study and its findings will go a long way in raising the level of awareness while using the mobile applications in hotels. It will facilitate the pro-activation of the Information Technology Departments in hotels to incorporate all sections of the hotel to get the easy and reliable services.

Literature Review

There have been a number of studies conducted with the intentions of examining how the information technology will affect the hospitality. There is the little research conducted on the effect of using the mobile applications in the hospitality industry, but there have been a lot of studies conducted by using the information technology and mobile phones in the hospitality.

According to Jagoe (2003), the technology has now become a part of our life, and we cannot do without it since the time of the industrial evolution. The technology, if well employed, works while making the life better, more efficient, and easier. Business organizations have been there for many years, and they will reap from anything that improves their production. With the emergence of computers in the 20th century, the business world experienced a new age of the information technology (Barth, S 2009). For any working business to benefit from the new age of the information technology, they have to be in a constant change and adoption of the new infrastructure.

Today, a lot of businesses conduct their business with the help of computers and other devices of communication. These computers and the communication devices give companies the opportunities to manage the schedules, the database, and other important information in their possession (Wood 2008; Brotherton 2008). A company has to adopt the information technology or the collapse due to the lack of competition. Management has greatly benefitted from employing the information technology in the way they are running their operations, as the technology greatly assists in almost all management processes.

In the last decades, there has been a huge stride in the development of technology, which has resulted in bringing the revolution to the world of business. The technology has affected all aspects of business and as well our way of working. The communication anywhere in the world has become very easy as one can reach any border within a second and at a very minimal cost (Shi, S 2004). Workers do need to be with their bosses, they can work at home and communicate effectively with their supervisors, clients, and coworkers. The issue of the physical location has been greatly reduced, and the costs associated with this have gradually decreased.

According to Kumar (2010), the hospitality industry is an industry that is being service oriented, and the 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, had no need for the information technology. But with the development of huge hotels and the development of chains, the hotel industry has no choice, but to accept the information technology in its business. Today the hospitality industries just like any other industries have to the adopt information technology and to be in a constant adoption of the new technology.

Mobile apps also referred to as the mobile applications are a software built and intended for the 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 there is no difference (Conrady 2010; Buck 2010). The apps can be used by the industries that are intended for the 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 the consumers.

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A lot of consumers today have an access to the internet, which can 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 them and to use them (Peterson, 2009). In the hospitality industry, the wave of using smart phones apps has made it convenient for consumers to search, book and pay for hotels at any location. The apps in the hospitality industry are not more advanced than the hotel websites, which have been there for many years. The hotel apps are more used as they are better optimized to be used in such devices as smart phones, which are more widely used. The hospitality apps have also introduced such aspects as global positioning, thus, enabling the experience of the customers better and working in assisting the hotel to establish the relationship with the business next to this hotel.

The benefit of these computer apps is that they will assist in increasing the consumers’ loyalty or increase the affinity with already existing clients. But all the apps that have to be employed for an establishment have to overcome such security challenges just like all the new technology, as well as the challenges in regards to unique changes in the technology among other challenges. Those organizations that are fast in adopting the mobile apps have realized that all challenges can be mitigated by adopting the good network engineering, the proper communication, and the discipline in programming.

There are more consumers using computer apps every day; the business analysts predict that the trade that involves the use of smart phones is fast growing and will continue to grow for many future years. 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 owning smart phones use these devices for planning and managing their daily activities that include the finances, travel and dining. In the United States, particularly, over 79 million of people are engaged into leisure travelling and employ the social media including the apps in their planning, booking and making payments (Taneja, N 2011).

When travel companies started developing mobile apps for the industry, this enabled travelers to make reservations, while they are going somewhere. The hospitality industry has taken an advantage of this so to improve the travel experience of their clients by enabling the localization of content in the apps and into the process they create a relationship with the travelers and their brand. The customers are crucial to the hotel; this technology enables the hotels to aware when guests are on the app and can use this opportunity to contact them and offer some 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 the apps develop at a very slow pace. Hotels, airports, restaurants and many public places have become accustomed to these wireless networks. Using these wireless networks, there the risks for users exist, especially the advanced sniffing that may be present in the network. Hackers can gain the access to the consumers’ information, like in regards to their credit card information, passwords and the misuse of information. But there are some measures that can be employed to save the information; they include the strong encryption, the use of secure servers, and the use of strong passwords among other measures (Jamalipour, A 2003).

This research will bring the new information on various benefits of the use of mobile apps in the society and especially in the hospitality industry. The paper will also make a review on the information available for a growth of the apps’ development and the adoption by the hospitality 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 the brand and customers’ loyalty after the use of mobile apps.

Methodology of the research

This section will introduce the methods that the researcher has chosen to collect the 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 general, the achievement of aim and objectives of this 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 the researched findings and analysis). “Case studies can provide a richness and uniqueness in data.” (Pizam, A 2010). The secondary research information is suitable with this research, since it is combining the quantitative and qualitative data (Stair, R 2012). This paper describes the useful development in the area of travel application in the hospitality industry.

For supporting these findings, the research will collect the secondary data from literature books related to the new technology, hotel innovation, and online application services in the hospitality industry and brand-loyalty related to the topic of this research. All the books for the research report can be found in the BHMS Library (“The Sage”, 2008) and online book stores with the help of the internet. Hopefully, these sources can be used as the guidelines to bring out the useful data connected to the findings to prove or disprove the hypothesis and reach the aim and objectives of the research.

The method of the primary data collection includes two parts. The research will take the 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 created the contact by mail with a group of employees working at the innovation and marketing at the 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 the 31st October 2011 at 10am. The question based interviews will be grounded on 14 interview questions about the hotel applications in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong. The research will read the histories about the Mandarin Oriental Hotel apps before the onset of the interview. This back-up information will be collected by combining both positivism and interpreted in the form of the realistic philosophy. According to Umar (2004), “Realism is based on the belief that a reality exists that is independent on human thought and beliefs. “This means that everyone has his or her own opinion, but there is a limitation on the freedom in expressing their perception. This research follows the philosophy as the researcher would like to know different kinds of opinion from respondents. On the other hand, the questions set will be bordered with the particular area to get the summary of the main opinion.

In the second part, the research will use the observation, as a research instrument, and it will combine the qualitative and quantitative research methods in 11 multiple choice questions. The research will deliver questionnaires to business people and travelers to the two-five stars’ hotels and two-four stars’ hotels in Luzern. 30 questionnaires will be distributed in 4 different hotels on the first week of November during the lunch hour. The research assumes that the respondents are being from the middle to the upper levels of the social classes. This simulation has been done in order to get as much information as possible due to the lack of resources. At the beginning of making a questionnaire, there is a short consent letter addressed to all participants introducing the product that the research is doing. The questionnaire also contains some biographical questions relating to age, gender, and nationality. All questionnaires will be collected 3 days later, and the researcher will start analyzing the information and applying the theories in books, articles, and school research methods in class.

The research has set out to use two different interviews as the ways of collecting data and information on the research topic. The interviews have been carried out successfully, and the response was more than expected. The telephone interviews yielded the results and response passing a long way for making conclusions on the results of the interview. All the hotels approached to offer the services by having representatives participated as agreed; the information gathered contributed to the final conclusions.

For the secondary information, the research sought to read the findings reached by other people looking into the similar scenario. It was good to note that there had been some other researches carried out near the similar research in the hospitality sector. The results have been found to be sufficient in some cases since the research groups and the targets have been limited.

According to Kumar (2010) through the inductive approach, the plans have been made to collect the data from the questionnaires given, after which the data should be analyzed. The results will be compared with any other known information analyzing the patterns that may emerge and suggesting the presence of the relationships between the given variables studied. These observations make it possible to construct a response to the research questions and to make a generalized relationship between variables. The research findings may lead to the conclusion arriving at the unprecedented theory. The research has based its assumptions that the valid responses could be got from the response group. The information would then be used to provide us with the credible opinion on the researched topic. Below there are the responses on the research managed to be received from respondents.

The above questionnaires have been used to develop the answers to the research questions. The respondents were well prepared to give their responses to all the questions forwarded to them. The responses were able to provide the research with the credible and extensive opinions and the respondents’ thoughts on the research topic.

From the answers given, it is clearly possible to see that all respondents believe in the use of the mobile phone based applications for the hospitality industry. The responses may vary at some degree but the unanimous response was affirmative to the research agenda. The response from the innovation marketing group of respondents was the opinion that the hotel applications should be developed in line with the ideals and objectives of individual hotels. This is because different hotels provide different services. As a result, they require different applications to market their individual services. All hotels have room services but some hotels may deliver food to their customers being away from the hotel premises. Some hotels may also have the special discounts and free items to provide their clients with. These items require the individualized applications for such classes of products and services. One of the hotels in this study has a special honeymoon package for their clients. It would be unfair if the client missed out such offer. The clients would lose if they have been unable to locate a shortcut to access such offer.

The mobile phone is always at hand for all people. It is a simple device that can be used to access endless possibilities. Computers and laptops are clumsy and may not be carried to all places. A mobile phone is always in the company of its owner. As such person may need to use the certain service from the hotel and may access it through the hotel applications. If the hotel of choice does not have such apps, then the hotel misses its potential clients. It is important for all hotels to invest into the good and efficient hotel apps to suit the needs of their clients.

The technology changes very fast and the hotels with mobile apps need to keep upgrading and revising their apps frequently. This is to keep them updated and reduce the risk of having services that show the apps being ceased to be provided, thus, inconveniencing clients.

Barth (2009) mentioned that the self-service technology leads to the direct guest satisfaction and is a growing trend changing the way the hotel industry is operated in. This was further reinforced through the responses received from the interview with respondents. The majority stated that the technological developments increased the productivity and efficiency of services. This is because services often rely on the responses they get to be retained as being viable to this business. If there were zero responses to some of the apps for the particular hotel, then the management would have found out what the problem was existing in that department.

Discount

From the responses received from two interviews, it is obvious that the apps idea in the hospitality industry remains as a feasible idea in terms of gaining the customers’ satisfaction and increasing the convenience conditions for guests, hotels, and employees. The data and information collected from both data collection methods reinforced the fact that the technological innovations certainly bridge a gap in the way that hotels operate and give a possible addition to expand how the operations are currently done at the moment. Operations can be better managed and reached through the use of mobile applications that link the hotel with clients.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Research

The research was carried out through two different groups of respondents. There was a specialized group of people working in the hotel industry. These groups are specialized and, as such, they do not clearly represent all the stakeholders in the hospitality sector. The response groups are also relatively small and, thus, their opinion cannot be held to be the opinion of all segments. Despite the information gathered and which is being valuable, insightful and reliable from certified individuals and hotel establishments highly regarded in the hospitality sector, the results cannot be assumed to be applicable for all establishments. The responses are the direct individual opinions of respondents, thus, not all people even if in the same industry hold the similar opinions on the use of mobile applications in the hospitality sector.

The study did not focus on real experts in the Information Technology field; rather the research looked into the opinions of staff members in the innovation and marketing section in one of the most leading hotels in Hong Kong. The respondents were, thus, limited, and their opinion may be considered as biased to the hotel they are working for. The real guests of hotels have been included in the research as respondents. However, there are also very few of them and they represent a fraction of visitors of hotels. Instead of having questionnaires, the research should have posted the questions on the social discussion boards to get answers from the varied kinds of customers.

The research also gained some strength. The inclusion of innovations and marketing professionals accorded the study with the credible and reliable data supporting the use of mobile apps in the hospitality sector.

The telephone interviews carried out were generally composed of the structured open ended questions which allowed us to gain all the information needed along with elaborate answers and opinions from the response groups (Pizam, A 2010). This research method proved to be quite effective, as, through the survey approach, the information has been gathered on a wide range of the qualitative platform; this allowed determining the overall conclusion (Jamalipour, A 2003). From the collected qualitative data, the conversion has been made turning it into the quantitative information that further assisted and contributed to the final results of research findings.

From the study of all the data collected with the help of two interviewing methods, such conclusions can be made. Both surveys show that the mobile phone applications are core to the modern day development of all hotels. The hospitality sector is still being a step behind other sectors in the way of updating its internet enabled applications (Hayes, K 2003). The onset of new applications through the constant technological advancement brings better platforms for the hospitality sector to act on.

The hotels that have embraced the use of mobile apps are reaping from their investments by the number of new clients they are receiving. New frontiers have also opened that hotels and other players in the hospitality sector can indulge into. The results of this study clearly show that there are many endless advantages to the hospitality sector if the industry players are ready to embrace the use of mobile phone applications.

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