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Trump International Hotel and Tower

Image via Wikipedia

Although he’s more famous for his trademark “You’re Fired” tagline than decisions on technology, Trump has gone mobile in Soho and Chicago will soon be able to provide mobile solutions to hotel employees. Hotel employees will soon be using smartphones and tablets to access core hotel system functionality such as check-in, check-out, reservation queries, room moves, traveler profile editing, housekeeping status and several internal reporting functions. In Thursday’s press release announcing the partnership both parties were, of course, very pleased with this action. As they should be.

Trump’s investment in mobile shows that companies are investigating and investing in mobile technology for more than extending sales channels. Increases in efficiency gained by employing new technologies have always had priority with forward-thinking companies. In fact, during a recent interview with President Obama, NBC’s Ann Curry asked the President about the private-sectors slow hiring pace.

“…a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”  –President Obama

Perhaps most wouldn’t consider ATMs and Kiosks a game changer these days, but the ability to perform tasks at different locations without direct human interaction was certainly a precursor to being “mobile”. Much focus in the world of mobile strategy has been on how devices can be utilized to better reach the customer. What often plays second fiddle these days is how the customer experience can benefit by employing mobile in the enterprise to make employee interactions with customers more efficient and friendly. And speaking of customer / employee interactions, I can’t even remember the last time I had to speak to an airline employee. I guess the online ticketing and kiosk ideas are working pretty well.

Harrods and Macy’s department stores recently announced mobile applications that help users retrieve item information and navigate their large stores. Focusing only on an end consumer approach to mobile could potentially put the store staff at a disadvantage when compared to the information at the customer’s fingertips. Of course, staff members could use the same mobile app as customers but that sort of diminishes one of the reasons a consumer visits a store in the first place: to talk to someone with better product knowledge or to see the product first-hand. Personally, I can’t imagine a more interesting scenario for legacy retail than equipping your customers with better information than your customer service staff. The store staff should have at least as much access to information via technology as the customers in the store. And if they don’t, the store may become more of a showroom or a facility for processing online returns should the store being thinking cross-channel. That’s not all bad, if that’s your strategy. Focusing on enterprise mobile and extending internal systems functionality to employees that interact with the customer has the potential to bring the customer experience to a new level.

Trump is also considering putting tablets in some rooms at select properties which would give guests direct access to interact with the hotel online. This would be great for guests without a mobile device. Perhaps for those that already have a mobile device, the same functionality could be offered to guests via a private wifi network?

Mobile continues to proliferate and as I’ve heard many execs mention over the past few months, mobile is at the top of the list for strategic initiatives. Exactly how mobile is deployed and implemented will vary, but it certainly exists in the plans for most enterprises. Understanding how to best design and deploy mobile functionality for both customers and employees will remain a key challenge for any brand exploring this technology.