Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mobile Apps For Hotels - Part 1

It’s a given, hotels of all sizes, both independents and chains, should have a mobile presence. How that reality should be brought to fruition can often be a difficult question for hoteliers. Hotels are compelled by the growing expectations of the traveling public to continually improve the guest experience. Mobile apps, if effectively implemented, offer hotels another tool in their efforts to bolster customer loyalty at their properties. The decision whether to build a native app that guests can download, or utilize a web-based app should be based on careful analysis. The various advantages and disadvantages of both will be explored in this two part series.

Native Apps

The 21st century hotel guest demands greater control of every facet of their guest experience and a native hotel mobile app can enable them to do so. With a hotel app downloaded to their smartphone or tablet, guests can select from among commonly variable choices such as, room size and bed type, to customizing the room temperature and even selecting food and drinks for the mini-bar. This can occur all in advance of their stay if they so desire from a mobile device armed with an app from the hotel. Guests can even skip the front desk lines and go straight to their room with mobile check-in and mobile room keys.

A hotel can offer their guests a higher level of customer service utilizing a hotel app. Guests may not be fully aware of all the services and hotel amenities available to them during their stay. The app can be a useful tool to keep guests informed of any special events taking place on the property. Hotel apps should highlight special services such as a spa, restaurant, golf, skiing, and shopping, along with any associated special deals. This will make the hotel guests feel at home and like special “insiders”.

There are also downsides and disadvantages to building a native hotel app. They are costly to build and maintain, requiring a sizable commitment on the part of hoteliers. There isn’t a “one size fits all solution” either. Each mobile platform requires its own unique app, for example, iPhone, Android etc. A native hotel app requires commitment on the part of the customer as well. Hotel guests must sacrifice precious device storage space in order to download the app.

Native mobile apps can ultimately provide hotels and chains increased direct bookings when a user-friendly and free mobile app is offered to their guests. Giving hotel customers an in-house mobile app that they feel comfortable with makes sense for hotel brands that are striving and committed to winning over their customer’s brand loyalty. In part two we will weigh the pros and cons of building a web-based mobile app for hotel guests.  

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