As a hotel owner, manager or senior employee, you hear and read hundreds of suggestions on how to grow your business, increase profits and/or make current customers more loyal. Some of those ideas you implement, and some are never seriously considered. The idea of your hotel launching its own mobile app, however, should at least be contemplated. In today’s mobile-driven society, whether you get an off-the-shelf app or develop one from scratch, there are numerous benefits to having your own hotel mobile app. Here are just a few of the reasons why.
It’s Where Your Customers Are
This won’t be a surprise: people have grown to depend on – and love – their phones. The extent of their love, however, may shock you. According to the New York Post, Americans check their phones about 80 times a day, many struggling to go more than 10 minutes between glances. HostAdvice.com tells us we use our phones to access the internet to the tune of 2.8 hours a day. Plus, 96% of Americans report they use their phones to find bargains.
In other words, your customers are on their phones a lot. So you need to be there, too.
Travelers Are Accustomed to Mobile Solutions
Where travelers used to carry guidebooks and maps, they now carry only their smartphones. The convenience and flexibility of these devices is simply a perfect fit for travelers, whether business or pleasure. They can search for a hotel, make a reservation, map out their route, pay for the Uber, check-in and check-out, pay the bill, and check their loyalty program points – all with their phones. But there are a few other things to consider:
- Hotel reviews are becoming more important and convenient, for your guests to read and for your guests to write. They can just do it all on their phones.
- Between reviews, social media and hotel apps, mobile technology has already forever transformed the way hotels interact with guests. It’s a closer, more transparent relationship and one that needs to be carefully nurtured for everyone’s benefit.
- Another potentially shocking fact: MobileMarketing points out that 60% of all travel-related searches happen on mobile devices. When the searches get more specific – “5 star” or “luxury,” for example – that number moves up to 80%. Guests are depending more on their phones and less on travel agents and your hotel’s front desk staff.
Personalization and Loyalty
In a business where forming better, more loyal, more personal relationships with customers is paramount, a hotel app provides endless opportunities.
- You already know the importance of gathering guest data. Having your own app makes that process easier (for you and your guests). You will literally be able to follow each guest’s booking journey and activity during their stay. Not only does this provide valuable information for developing pricing and service offerings, but it lets you know your guests on a more personal level so you can provide the best possible service.
- Integrating your loyalty program into your app is also a win-win. Your guests can more easily collect points, earn rewards or check their progress, which helps you earn that loyalty.
If you weren’t yet aware, there are a number of hotel-specific functions that are only available through mobile apps. One of these is the ability for guest to check in and check out without having to go to the hotel front desk, like the solution provided by OpenKey. Guest convenience is the obvious benefit to this technology, but it’s only the beginning.
- Even the best front desk staff will occasionally see lines of waiting guests. Is this a big deal? Yes. Studies have found just a five-minute wait at the front desk during check-in can reduce guest satisfaction by as much as 50%. Mobile check-in and check-out will help reduce front desk foot traffic.
- These innovative platforms also allow the front desk staff to spend more time with guests who prefer the traditional check-in/out process or those with other needs, another opportunity to provide better service.
- Reducing the front desk workload may also allow for a more efficiently allocated staff. Fewer people will be needed to accomplish the same number of tasks – and they’ll be able to accomplish more.
Hotel Room Keyless Entry
Another innovative hospitality application for mobile devices is the mobile room key, like the solution developed by OpenKey. Since guests enjoy the convenience of using their smartphones to enter their rooms – no stopping at the front desk, no more lost key cards, etc. – this technology has already shown an average improvement in guest satisfaction scores of 7%. In addition, 46% of hotel guests say mobile key is an important on-property feature.
Of course, once you have a mobile key app on your guests’ phones, that provides other opportunities to improve relationships and your level of service.
- Your app can be enabled to push marketing messages and offers to your guests through their smartphones like the OpenKey solution does. Not only does this ensure guests get the message, it makes it easier for them to book activities or services and redeem coupons.
- You can use the app to encourage guests to post online reviews or fill out post-stay surveys, all within the app and all nice and simple.
- By promoting mobile check-in and your mobile key solution in pre-arrival emails, you have another opportunity to collect guest information. This, again, allows for better communication, better relationships and better guest service.
The most shocking fact of all: with all this research and new understanding of the hotel guest’s changing habits, according to Hospitality eSources, only 25% of hotels have an app. 75% admit the importance of having one, yet most don’t. This means that those hotels that do have an app are giving themselves a decidedly competitive advantage.
Decided to Create Your Hotel App?
Hopefully, this short article has given you the information you need to make the right decision – get a hotel app. Now, the goal becomes making that app useful enough – indispensable, hopefully – to encourage as many downloads as possible.
Give Them Reasons to Download
You have to give your guests more functionality than your name, address and a map. In addition to the amazing app functionality already mentioned in this article, here are a few more capabilities to consider:
- Direct messaging with front desk or concierge
- Ordering room service
- Leaving wake-up calls
- Requesting more towels or toiletries
- Controlling room lights, television and heat/air conditioning
- Searchable lists of local attractions or restaurants
- How-to guides for in-room services and electronics
- Booking spa services
- Making restaurant reservations
Make It Easy to Use
Now that you have an idea of what to include in your hotel app, we thought we’d finish up with a note about usability. Your hotel app can’t be too large, can’t be confusing and can’t be filled with dead links. A good hotel app should have, on the other hand, all the elements needed so your app is something guests will want to use:
- Simple, clear navigation
- Intuitive functionality
- Clean design
- Focus on the guest experience
Need Help Developing Your Hotel App?
As mentioned previously, if you don’t have a mobile app for your hotel already, you’re far from alone. You can look to develop your own but this can prove to be time-consuming and expensive. To skip this arduous process, you can white-label the OpenKey app for your hotels. Then, your guests can immediately gain access to the mobile app features they truly care about like mobile check-in, mobile key entry, and more.