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Marketers hedge their bets on smartphones

While feature phones are still key in reaching emerging market audiences, most marketers are gearing up for the full use of mobile technology in their business, with brands such as Langham Hospitality Group, Amazon and Sun Hung Kai Financial already taking the first steps.

The last day of the Mobile Marketing Summit was dedicated to discussions on mobile marketing technologies for smartphones.

Sean Seah (pictured), vice president, e-business, loyalty and partner marketing, Langham Hospitality Group detailed his plans to fully utilise mobile to build loyalty with customers. “The future of hospitality is in digital – online, through search, social, and mobile.”

Seah spoke about using phone apps to allow guests to check into rooms without having to check in the usual way, or use augmented reality through mobile to screen a customer’s pictures on the wall.

The hospitality industry revolves around good service and human connection. Would taking to technology then eliminate the need for human service and be deemed cold and impersonal? Luca Deplano, vice president of marketing for Banyan Tree, raised the question. To this, Seah replied: “While people need a human connection, but one thing people don’t like is lining up.”

Brian Hui, vice president and head of marketing for Amazon China echoed the same sentiments about mobile technology. Hui spoke extensively on how marketers need to strongly consider their ROI, and how every employee and marketer at Amazon is financially trained to justify every dollar spent.

Coming from a financial background himself, Hui said: “With mobile, Amazon only designs with the future in mind, we will not go for low-end phone technologies.”

He also explained how Amazon reaches scale by search and how social media is an information channel for customers.

Later, in a panel discussion between Millennial Media’s managing director of Southeast Asia Robert Woolfrey talked about how the capabilities of smartphones had brought mobile marketing this far, with possibilities of targeting through technologies such as location data.

The conference ended on a high note, with several marketers mentioning that they found the discussions useful for their own marketing strategies.

“One of the key takeaways I had was the industry depth and knowledge of mobile applications across Southeast Asia. I picked up quite a few insights today from a few experts, and I’m quite interested to see how I can apply these strategies in the financial industry for UOB Bank. Another thing that I was looking forward to and was not disappointed was the amount of networking at this event, the amount of people willing to share their insights today, it’s something I value very much,” Jamie Lee, vice president, group brand performance and corporate communications, UOB Group, said.

“Mobile marketing is a reality. It (the conference) was a real chance for me to get familiar with the technicalities of mobile marketing. It’s good to consider these in my marketing strategies,” Cheryl Yue, director of sales and marketing, W Hong Kong, said.The Mobile Marketing Summit was an invitation-only, two-day event, focused on key issues relating to marketing through mobile devices. The event featured an agenda dominated by case studies from senior brand marketers designed to appeal to director and vice president level marketers from other top consumer brands active in Asia.

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