How hotels can use QR Codes for marketing and customer service
QR Codes are starting to find themselves on billboards and print advertising, shops windows, restaurants and bar menus.
But is it a fad, a tech-media driven piece of hype that will disappear within a year? Or is it the beginning of a new trend in consumer engagement?
And, more importantly, how can we apply this in hotel marketing or in giving better service to our guests?
In short, for the uninitiated: QR (Quick Response) Codes are used to divert an offline consumer to an online mobile platform. Consumers can scan the 2D barcode with a mobile device, upon which they are diverted to a website landing page or access all other sorts of information, including web addresses, personal or professional contact information, or Facebook action/promotion pages.
There are, of course, several QR apps which you can download for free.
The key element to consider when using QR codes is around “added value”. You have to give consumer something that they did not have yet. You can use them for the “win a prize” approach, or when trying to push a special offer or other types of deals.
But our guess is consumers are getting a bit tired of all the special offers thrown at them. Recently, I was reading an article on the Backlash of the Groupon Effect. Apparently, consumers are getting saturated with offers every day.
So we have looked for another angle and are, instead, using QR codes to improve a guest’s service experience.
QR codes are used on cards in the rooms, notices in elevators, at the concierge desk and message boards in the lobby to engage clients with tips on where to dine or what to do during their stay.
Upon scanning the QR code, users are diverted to the hotel website’s blog which contains the latest events, restaurant tips, attractions and activity recommendations, our favorite shops, etc. From here the guest can also navigate to social media pages.
This is a simple way to increase the guest service level in a hotel, and at the same time connect the guest through social media platforms such as the property’s blog, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ profiles.
We have introduced this concept with several of our clients: Hotel de Londres in San Sebastian, The Signature Hotels in Saudi Arabia and HTEL Serviced Apartments in Amsterdam, among others, and received very positive feedback. And we are using it for our own hotel management blog as well.
We recommend driving consumers to a specific promotion or landing page, not just your hotel website.
In the beginning you will need to educate your guests and include a call to action. Tell them what to do: “Scan this Code for our Latest Restaurant, Shopping and Tourist Tips”.
People need to know that after scanning the code they will receive some cool or interesting information. In the absence of a blog, send them to the local tourism or visitors bureau website or mobile app.
You could also use it as a promotional tool to offer a discount on drinks in the bar or dinner in the restaurant, and offer 10%-25% off during certain hours for those who scan it.
In fact, you could say the QR Code Happy Hour has arrived…
Patrick Landman is a contributing Node to Tnooz and founder and CEO of Xotels. This hotel management group assists independent hotels with revenue management, online marketing and internet distribution strategies.
They offer outsourcing services, coaching, consulting and training. In his blog, Patrick challenges hoteliers to think out of the box and not to accept the established order.
Through a passionate drive for growth and improvement he brings creative tips, ideas and best practices to the table that can help hotels drive up their bottom line.
In previous roles he has helped to develop businesses like RateTiger and Hotels.com into industry leaders.