Long gone are the days when the cell phone was used for solely placing a phone call, sending a text message, or checking email. For many consumers, cell phones are music players, cameras, sources for news and more; a trend that is only expected to grow with the rapid rise of smartphone penetration in the U.S. mobile market. Hospitality operators are quickly learning how to tap into this trend to market their own businesses and provide consumers with additional service touch points.
A recent Gartner (www.gartner.com) report projects that mobile ad spending worldwide will grow 74 percent this year to $913.5 million, but not really accelerate until 2011, when advertisers are expected to boost mobile spending as part of an overall shift toward digital marketing channels. Two operators that are already making the leap into mobile marketing are national family restaurant chains Texas Roadhouse (www.texasroadhouse.com) and Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill (www.rubios.com). Texas Roadhouse recently selected Knotice's (www.knotice.com) Concentri Mobile marketing software, which supports both dynamic text-message dialogue interactions as well as static keyword, location-based mobile marketing programs.
Meanwhile, Rubio's has selected the mobile information and coupon iPhone/iPod touch app Yowza!! (www.getyowza.com). The application saves consumers from having to clip coupons or print out promotional emails because deals are sent direct to their mobile device. Rubio's guests simply show the digital mobile coupon on their iPhone or iPod touch at the time of payment to redeem the discount on their purchase.
"Mobile couponing is convenient and easy for busy consumers," says Larry Rusinko, senior vice president of marketing for Rubio's. "The Yowza!! application allows us to quickly and efficiently reach our consumers with information and savings for Rubio's."
In addition to mobile marketing initiatives, hospitality operators are joining the iPhone app craze to provide customers with increased service and convenience when it comes to booking hotel stays and placing food orders. Omni Hotels (www.omnihotels.com), La Quinta Inns & Suites (www.lq.com) and Chipotle (www.chipotle.com) have all released their own iPhone apps within the last month alone.
"More and more travelers are using the iPhone and iPod touch as a tool to help navigate their daily lives," says Andy Adams, product manager of brand websites for La Quinta. "We want to provide a convenient way for these users to connect with La Quinta Inns & Suites."
To read more about the Texas Roadhouse, Rubio's, La Quinta or the many other hospitality organizations embracing mobility, visit htmagazine.com.