HOUSTON—With smartphones and tablets becoming more and more essential to business and leisure travelers alike, hotels are now able to offer their guests unprecedented levels of personalization for check-in, amenities and more through mobile apps.
But in order for those apps to be effective—both as a tool for a personalized guest experience and the collection of data for marketing—guests must be willing to divulge some level of personal information.
Research conducted by Drs. Cristian Morosan and Agnes DeFranco at the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management indicates that more than one-third of guests are willing to disclose personal information on hotel apps—if they meet certain criteria.
“Guests weigh the risks and benefits of information disclosure and are willing to disclose personal information to apps if the hotels make the personalization benefits clear to them and design apps that stimulate positive emotions, such as joy, pleasure and excitement,” DeFranco said. “Hotel apps should be conducive to trust, and allow guests to reduce their search time and conveniently find/personalize services that are relevant to their consumption.”
The type of information requested was a factor, too. According to the study, which was sponsored by HFTP, guests were much more willing to share certain info—things like room preferences, amenity preferences and gender—and less willing to share details like income, credit card information and driver’s license or passport numbers.
Of the survey’s 320 respondents, more than 85 percent said they always carry a mobile device when traveling, with a full 55 percent saying they carry two to three devices.
“Through smartphones and tablets, hotel apps can become rich portals for guests and superb tools for hotels to learn about their clients, anticipate their needs and provide outstanding service,” Morosan said. “As guests set increasingly blurry boundaries between the public and private spheres of their lives online, investigating how they trade their personal information for uniquely personalized hotel experiences will continue to be a top priority for our research agenda.”