Hotel mobile apps can be significant drivers in improving the guest experience, brand loyalty, and operational efficiencies. With all of these factors positively impacting the bottom line, many hotels are no longer asking why they should create a mobile app; they’re asking how.
Below, we’ve laid out three different routes a hotel can take when looking to create their own app. Hoteliers should choose the path that best aligns with their resources, expertise, and goals.
1. In-House Development
In-house app development typically provides an organization with the most control over any new initiative. However, heightened control doesn’t necessarily make for a good mobile app strategy as our list of pros and cons demonstrates.
Benefits of In-House App Development
- The hotel itself regulates the scope of the project, the team members, and included features.
- An in-house development team has a deep understanding of the hotel’s goals and policies better than any third-party could.
- The hotel can continually fine-tune the app to its evolving needs without the costs of using an outside developer, which could add up in the long run.
Drawbacks of In-House App Development
- Recruiting a capable in-house app team, training, certificates, and software licensing all add to a hotel’s fixed costs and investment.
- Management has the opportunity to continually alter their plans with the app which can significantly extend the project.
- A lack of internal expertise could require outside consultants midstream through the project, increasing both costs and time to completion.
- Custom developed apps often do not easily adapt to upgrades in operating systems and devices; this can create delays and raise long-term costs.
2. Hiring a Mobile App Developer
Using an outside specialist means hotels relent control over development but also gain sizeable benefits along the way. While app developers are experts in the space, they are not a perfect solution for all.
Benefits of Using an Outside Developer
- A hotel wastes no time on recruiting, training, or managing developers since outside specialists are often ready to start projects quickly.
- Pricing for the project is usually fixed so overruns in development time or technical issues will not come at an additional cost for the hotel.
- Outside developers can easily integrate newer advancements to enhance creativity and function.
- Mobile app developers usually offer end-to-end service that includes design, development, and customer support.
Drawbacks of Using an Outside Developer
- Insufficient project specs or changes in the scope or function of the app can dramatically increase costs for the hotel.
- A hotel is reliant on a third party for important aspects of the project like setting deadlines, workflows, and transparency throughout the process.
- Developers usually cap the number of free revisions meaning costs could rise over time.
3. White Label App Providers
White label app providers produce “off-the-shelf” apps that are already developed that hotels can then adjust to fit their brand. They give hoteliers an effective mobile app without the costs and hassles of custom development but, like the preceding approaches, they still have their drawbacks.
Benefits of Using a White Label App
- White label app providers already have extensive knowledge of app development and often understand what the overall market and guest demands.
- Using a prepackaged white label app saves money, time, and effort so hotels can concentrate on their core competencies and not tech development.
- Numerous users and brands have typically already tested and used a white label mobile app so they’ve undergone rigorous testing to provide a sound user experience.
Drawbacks of Using a White Label App
- White label apps offer less customization in design, features, and functionality.
- Hotels risk having an app similar to the competition if they used the same app vendor.
- Like outsourced app development, any miscommunication between the hotel and vendor can raise costs and extend completion times.
- White label app providers have the same drawback as any third-party vendor in lacking a thorough understanding of a hotel brand’s mission, goals, and ethos which can create a misalignment between brand and app.
Give Guests a Reason to Download
As we’ve previously discussed, a hotel needs to give guests a compelling reason to download its mobile app. Hoteliers should provide app features and functionalities that will be useful during a guest’s stay, thus increasing their likelihood of downloading. As always, the goal should be to improve the overall guest experience.
Whichever app creation route you decide to take, consider bringing in experts in mobile hospitality solutions. They can help you provide the mobile app features that guests want and use. For example, OpenKey can integrate mobile key and mobile check-in functionality into your hotel’s mobile app. Through our new partnership with Runtriz, we can also integrate other mobile guest services into your app such as mobile concierge, dining/room service, valet, and several others. Since guests have a strong desire to use these mobile features, your app will be a valuable tool for them throughout their stay and ultimately a driver to an improved guest experience.