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Pfister Hotel lures mobile users with responsive Web, augmented reality

Marcus Hotels & Resorts’ flagship property The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee is channeling mobile through responsive Web design and augmented reality to appeal to younger audiences. 

Having launched a new responsive Web site capable of processing mobile bookings and an augmented reality tour that offers an enticing, interactive factor, millennials will be more likely to consider the hotel. Mobile is being used in a multitude of ways to deliver modern and convenient experiences for guests.

“The hotel industry has seen tremendous growth in mobile and tablet bookings over the past two years, and now over 35 percent of Web visits come from either a mobile or tablet device,” said Chris Anderson, senior vice president of Marcus Hotels & Resorts, Milwaukee. “With so many people doing travel research on these types of devices, it became imperative to improve our user experience on both mobile phones and tablets.

“Because our old Web site redirected these visitors to a limited version of our Web site, we knew that a growing number of our customers were not experiencing the Pfister brand in the best way possible,” he said. “Our goals were to make our extensive desktop site content accessible to mobile customers, improve their onsite experience, and increase conversions.

“The best way to do that was to create a whole new, responsive Web site. In addition, we also believe that the old way of handling mobile traffic was negatively impacting our search engine rankings and site traffic.”

Serving millennials
Claiming to be the first hotel in the United States to offer an augmented reality tour, the hotel also wants to make its 120-year-old establishment appealing to millennials.

Being that the hotel stands on historical art, millennials will be more attracted to an interactive learning experience.

Built in-house, the Marcus’ design team developed the responsive Web site to fit all screen sizes. In addition to making reservations, the site contains a list of the hotel’s amenities, dining options and guestroom features.

The Pfister plans to release an iOS app soon. Until then, iOS users can download the Junaio app and scan a QR code at the front desk of the hotel to tap into the tour.

Android users can Pfister Hotel Art Tour app to access the tour.

There are also preloaded iPads in the hotel to access the tour.

The tour allows users to interact with the historic items in the hotel, such as paintings and sculptures.

Several pieces of artwork can be scanned to reveal games, videos and more. Once users have tapped into every scannable piece of artwork, users are awarded with special pricing of the book The History, Art and Imagery of the Pfister Hotel. Books can be purchased at the front desk.

“Augmented reality is technology at its coolest,” Mr. Anderson said. “We wanted the Pfister guest to be able to experience this 120-year-old building and all of the unique character within it through a fresh set of eyes.

“There is so much history here and the younger generations coming through our doors need something exciting to engage with to keep the Pfister’s tradition alive,” he said. “The hotel was built on the cutting edge of technology with a serious of firsts, and it is our duty to continue that technological progression.”

“Though augmented reality is definitely something to enjoy while onsite, videos of the clips will be available on the Pfister’s YouTube Channel. We hope that the cool factor of augmented reality will make the Pfister the obvious choice for booking when someone does travel to Milwaukee.”

Resting assured
Hotel chains tapping mobile are able to better satisfy their customers.

A Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. executive at the Mobile Marketing Association’s SM2 Innovation Summit discussed how the brand is personalizing guests’ stays via a new application that offers specific details about all hotel rooms in its 1,200 worldwide properties.

During the “Starwood Resorts Leverages Mobile to Enhance Guests’ Stays” session at the Mobile Marketing Association’s SM2 conference, the executive discussed the efficiency with which the brand’s new mobile application gathers data and provides extensive details to customers. Starwood aimed to scale the solution across its global branches, bolster guest enhancement tools and accomplish these goals in a quick turnaround time (see story).

Hilton Hotels also strategizes mobile in the form of social to better its guest experience.

Hilton Worldwide employs a single social media strategist whose job it is to convey the latest intelligence from different platforms to each of its 11 hotel brands, but each brand maintains its own voice and often relies on individual hotels to supply content.

Other companies using a similar strategy include, which also employs a single social media strategist while social media teams around the world operate independently. Having a central resource for social media intelligence to stay on top of the trending platforms and the latest technologies helps these companies focus on the customer communications aspects of their social media efforts (see story).

Mobile will continue to be an increasingly relevant tool for Marcus Hotels.

“With the new responsive site, our customers will have a better mobile experience with the Pfister brand because site content and pictures will be optimized for whatever device they are using,” Mr. Anderson said.  “In addition, they will be able to use gestures such as swiping and pinching pictures when researching on our site.

“We expect that this better experience will lead to more time spent on site and hopefully an increase in conversions,” he said. “In addition, smart phone users will now have access to a vast amount of content and images that were not available to them with our old mobile site.

“The improved ease in booking and overall better experience reflects the customer-focused brand that is the Pfister. We’ve already seen a greater number of visitors and bookings via mobile and tablet since the launch two weeks ago.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York