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SoLoMo (Social Local Mobile), otherwise known as location-based services, is the new frontier for hoteliers to enhance guest engagement and retention.   The term SoLoMo defines a new kind of mobile shopper and represents the intersection of behavior, technology and culture.

SoLoMo is not just another fad.  It has become a critical part of today’s marketing landscape, which has considerably changed since the introduction of smart phones. In the United States alone, the penetration of cell phones is nearing 100 percent, according to Nielsen.  Smart phone penetration is approaching 50 percent and growing. In addition, in the five-year period of 2010 – 2015, mobile commerce revenues compound growth rate will be over 58 percent.

And with the use of check-in services such as Foursquare, Google Places and Facebook Places, on the rise, hoteliers can use these new mapping-oriented channels to develop strategic plans for attracting and retaining guests.  And there is plenty of opportunity.

In fact, according to Asif Khan, Founder and President of the Location Based Marketing Association, today, 114 million people use check-in services, and that number is expected to grow to 1.4 billion by 2014.  Smartphone manufacturers will drive that growth, Khan said, as well as Google and Facebook, each of which is boosting SoLoMo initiatives.

Khan also indicates, that of those who are using SoLoMo applications today, the primary functions are: navigation, finding nearby friends and restaurants, checking public transportation and looking for special deals.

However, I believe that before a hotel implements a SoLoMo strategy, it is best to first assess its existing business model and target audience. It’s also critical to have a mobile website strategy in place, including mobile search-engine optimization and mobile advertising.

SoLoMo implementation will require a different mind-set within the organization.  Empowered front-line staff will also need to know and embrace all marketing and promotional objectives.

Many hotel guests are social, mobile-users who demand convenience. SoLoMo allows people to share information, tips and experiences with each other, right where they are. When done right, SoLoMo can support overall business objectives for hospitality providers by providing a new guest engagement channel.