More U.S. Travelers Using Smart Phones for Scheduling, Streamlined Check-Ins

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by Alex A. Kecskes

Today, more travelers are using smart phones to plan, purchase and share information about their travel destinations.

A recent Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 "Portrait of American Travelers" survey revealed that 19% of travelers have downloaded a travel-related application to their smart phone. And nearly half of those found their destination using their phone's built-in GPS system. A growing number are comparing hotel rates, and some even use their smart phones to download and redeem mobile coupons.

Hotels are getting the message, responding with enhanced mobile websites, and developing applications for downloading to iPhones, BlackBerrys and Google Android phones. Last year, Hilton Hotels introduced iPhone apps for all of its seven brands. One Hilton app provides mobile check-ins for loyal customers, and the app for its Homewood Suites chain lets customers even select a specific room. Customers aren't hesitating to take advantage of the added convenience these apps provide, which have now been downloaded over 150,000 times in the four months since they were introduced.

New services are hitting the market that pitch products via smart phones. And user-generated content apps like Yelp, provide real traveler/customer reviews that are read by thousands. (Check out my hotel review on YELP.)

Hotel managers claim that bookings completed over smart phones are on a dramatic upswing. This in contrast to the declining effectiveness of traditional sales channels. Just goes to show, if you want to succeed in the hospitality industry, you've got to be tech savvy.

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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.

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