Hyperlocal technology has become quite the buzzword in the technology community. Hyperlocal describes a very specific area, such as close to your hotel. Even more specific to your city or town, hyperlocal is the immediate area. Hyperlocal technology helps give people (guests) in your immediate area information. It seems as if every tech startup is itching to get into the geo-targeting space: foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook want users’ attention at every turn.
So, how do you as a hotelier capitalize on hyperlocal growth? There are several opportunities for properties to engage and communicate with their guests when they are in and out of their property.
Hyperlocal is Mobile-First Technology
Hyperlocal and mobile go together because people are constantly searching for relevant information on their smartphones. The easiest and best way to receive timely, relevant information is on your phone.
In a recent study, stats for travelers interested in mobile and content was high:
- 81% of travelers are interested in some form of mobile content
- 74% of guests say they would access hotel content on a mobile device
- 95% of guests bring mobile phones on an average trip (source)
An Example of Hyperlocal Technology
Facebook is one example of a company making use of hyperlocal technology.. Recently, they unveiled their new proximity-based “beacons” to several businesses. Beacons are transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 to broadcast signals. These signals can be heard by smart devices and prompt them to do something, like open a mobile app (source). A beacon will prompt a push notification on a user’s device that will lead them to relevant information.
Facebook beacons let hotels and other businesses do some pretty cool things. When a guests walks through your lobby doors, or wherever you decide to put the beacon, the beacon will activate. A guests will then be prompted to like your page and check in, show your page and recent posts, and then display their friends’ recommendations.
Several companies are testing Facebook beacons and it will be interesting to see what businesses do with the new technology. Facebook beacons are only one example of hyperlocal technology and we will explore some other tools below.
Four Ways to Engage in Hyperlocal
1. Mobile Apps. An idealistic way to engage guests with hyperlocal information is through an app developed solely for your property. Mobile apps offer guests localized information and can include things such as concierge recommendations, hotel property information, and local guides.
If a hotel property combines the power of a mobile app with beacons, the options are almost infinite. Beaconstac wrote a fantastic article highlighting some of the interesting things beacons can do for hotels and their guests. Some of the possibilities they list include:
- Keyless room entry
- In-room controls (temperature, TV remote, lighting, etc.)
- Upgrades and upsells (room upgrades, added amenities, etc.)
- Custom messages. For example, if you aren’t at the property when a guest arrives and need to tell them where their key is.
- Timely messages, such as alerts for breakfast or happy hour
Beaconstac even believes beacons can better measure staff productivity. Beacons can replace paper logs and digitally record how long tasks such as room cleaning take their staff.
We consider mobile apps an idealistic option because they can be difficult. They are expensive to develop and maintain while guests are often hesitant to download and actually use the tool.
2. Wifi. Hotel guests would rather have free WiFi than free breakfast (source). That’s a pretty bold statement.Do people really value the internet more than food? It sure seems that way. Like beacons, WiFi offers the opportunity to market to guests in a hyperlocal space. Here is how it works: when a user logs into your WiFi network, they appear on a branded landing page where there are several advertisements. These ads can rotate every time a user logs in.
The hotel can advertise venues in and out of the hotel as well as any other promotional offers. Because a guest must access a WiFi signal from a specific location, advertisers are able to target a unique user.
For example, a guest enters your property after staying in the hotel for a night or two. They want to check their Facebook to see what they have missed during their day and activate your WiFi. The landing page shows an advertisement for the happy hour specials happening right now in your hotel restaurant. Suddenly, they know what they are doing before dinner and get to browse Facebook.
Beyond advertisements, the WiFi landing page can also show relevant content. Including blog posts, must-do lists, and other interesting information on your destination. No doubt your property already offers WiFi, so learning how to capitalize on hyperlocal content will make an existing service more valuable.
3. Social Media. Although less precise than beacons and wifi, social media can offer your guests hyperlocal experiences. Some hotels are putting live twitter feeds in their lobbies to showcase tweets that use a specific hashtag or geotag, for example.
Facebook beacons show how social media platforms are committed to empowering users to the most relevant local information. Mobile technology and users will increase in capability and accuracy over time.
To utilize social media as a hyperlocal tool, create a property specific hashtag and make sure it is well advertised around your hotel. And on your WiFi landing page, of course! We recently mentioned Sol Wave House in our social media strategy blog post, and shared how they engage with their guests. They have dedicated social media concierges who offer guests hyperlocal information through different services. Employing a similar strategy will help you connect with your guests.
4. Property Websites. Your property should have a location-specific website tailored to your guests, filled with local content helpful to your guests. Your website is a crucial step in the buying process and should be equally as helpful when guests are at your property. For more help on how to create content for your hotel, see our blog post called How to Create a Winning Content Marketing Strategy.
Red Lion Hotels increased their online bookings by offering “microsites” which highlight individual properties. Red Lion recognized the desire for local, unique experiences. Differentiate your property by showcasing what truly makes it different. Such as guest profiles, the local area and employee expertise.
Street Fight, an online blog dedicated to hyperlocal news, shared just how much consumers demand information from their mobile phones. The most relevant stats for hoteliers were included in the I-want-to-go moments:
- Guests have doubled their interest in searches ‘near me’ in the past year
- 82% of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for local businesses.
The number of smartphone users will surpass 2 billion in 2016. This increase, coupled with the stats on traveler and consumer mobile use, offers endless possibilities for hoteliers.
It’s Worth the Effort. Start Here:
Hyperlocal solutions such as mobile apps and beacons may be more difficult to put in place than wifi, social media, and websites. These solutions require strategy and careful planning, but will offer noticeable returns. The opportunity to offer your guests hyperlocal information, especially via mobile, will become increasingly important for the foreseeable future.
See these tools to implement a hyperlocal technology strategy today:
- Beacon Start-Up Kits and Solutions
- Social Media Curation Tool
- Blue Sense Networks
- MileStone WiFi Landing Page
What hyperlocal strategies are you working on What noteable strategies have you admired? Share your strategies in the comments.