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Marriott expands mobile requests as keyless room entry takes flight

Marriott International is bringing its mobile request platform to an additional five of its hotel brands as it celebrates its planned acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts by piloting keyless room entry.

Mobile requests are now rolling out to several of Marriott?s subsidiaries, including JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts and Renaissance Hotels, as the hospitality marketer experiences positive customer feedback regarding the service. Additionally, the brand is following in its newest acquisition Starwood Hotels? footsteps by enabling guests to use their smartphones as room keys, providing the ultimate convenience to weary travelers.

?We knew our guests would love [mobile requests] as we know they are increasingly more mobile and expect more personalized travel experiences,? said David Menda, director of product marketing and mobile messaging at Marriott International, Bethesda, MD. ?We?ve seen over 20,000 requests come through so far.

?While we offer a standard list of the most requested amenities including towels, toiletries, and valet parking, about half of requests arrive via chat as guests have unique questions during their trips,? he said. ?Our associates really appreciate the technology because it helps them stay more engaged with our customers and do their jobs better.

?You can?t talk to multiple guests on the phone at once but you can quickly respond and assign various requests in our app. They?re also simply excited to be able to chat with our guests within our app and stay engaged during their stay even when they?re not present at the front desk asking a question.?

Fostering more connections
Marriott is seeking additional ways to leverage mobile to foster long-lasting relationships with consumers, some of whom prefer to communicate with hotel employees digitally rather than face-to-face. Guests are encouraged to download the brand?s new Marriott Mobile application from Google Play or the iTunes Store to access a slew of new features designed to augment their experiences.

Marriott first redefined the hotel visit with its mobile request platform back in May 2015, 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 (see story).

Now, the platform is launching at properties belonging to Autograph Collection, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Executive Apartments and Renaissance Hotels. Select Residence Inn and Courtyard hotels in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe will also receive the functionality.

The platform is eligible for use by Marriott?s 54 million loyalty members. Users are able to text in real-time with employees to ask questions or request amenities before and during their stay.

Customers may speak with staff in five languages: English, French, Spanish, German and Chinese.

The brand has found that nearly 25 percent of guests make requests or direct inquiries to hotel staff while staying at a property. Consequently, it identified mobile as an optimal channel with which to funnel these requests.

It may also be a big draw for millennial travelers, who rely on their smartphones for everything from researching potential trips to booking accommodations.

?Some 75 percent of people travel with one or more mobile devices and the percentage is higher for younger travelers,? Mr. Menda said. ?We believe that all of the app?s features combined with flawless execution on-property sets this experience apart for our Marriott Rewards members.

?Our app?s tagline is ?The Perfect Travel Companion? and we are setting out to create just that.?

Consumers with upcoming stays reserved at a Marriott hotel can use the mobile request platform to select an option from an in-app drop-down menu of typically requested amenities, including extra towels and valet parking.

They may also opt to start a two-way SMS conversation with an employee via the ?Anything Else? button. Surveys have reportedly revealed that this tool has contributed to an uptick in overall satisfaction.

Forward-thinking pilots
Marriott has also announced that it is piloting a new service titled Mobile Key, which enables customers to unlock their hotel rooms with their smartphones instead of a physical key. This tool was first introduced to the public by fellow marketer Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Marriott International placed the winning bid for Starwood this past Monday, at a total of $12.2 billion.

?Our next generation guests want to be more in control of their travel and we are delivering that with the Marriott Mobile app,? Mr. Menda said. ?Guests have told us they want to streamline their check-in process and head straight to their room.

?Mobile Key helps give them that flexibility and control,? he said. ?This feature allows guests to check-in to our hotels up to a day before their stay and receive real-time push message alerts when their room is ready.

?When they arrive at our hotels, they?ll be able to skip any lines at the front desk, head straight to their room, and open the door using their mobile device. With Mobile Key, we?ll be able to address the needs of these customers by giving them more choices during their travel.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York