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Mobile App Development

Over the last decade, mobile hotel bookings have increased dramatically. It is easier for people to book a hotel room on their smart phones on the go, as they are travelling into work or when they are our and about. It is easy, simple and provided your hotel ensures a good customer service experience, it is one of the most popular ways for people to book at your hotel again in the future.

Interestingly, 80% of all last-minute bookings are done on mobile phones. There are plenty of apps for hotel booking experiences which also help people to book a last minute getaway. Hoteliers need to develop and update technology to increase their hotel bookings and stay ahead of the competition. Shockingly, 2 out of 5 mobile transactions for hotel bookings are cancelled because of poor user experience.

If you want to improve your hotel digital marketing, you may wish to book the services of a professional digital hotelier. They are trained in all areas of digital marketing and will be happy to help you get the most out of your various platforms, whether you already have systems in place or whether you are starting from scratch. They can help you with the following:

Ensuring information, pricing and branding is consistent across all platforms

It is really important that your mobile site mimics your PC version. Branding needs to be easily identifiable and you need to include the same pricing and information.

Ensuring that reservation forms are easy to fill in

There is nothing worse than not being able to fill in a form properly on your mobile. If the form is small and difficult to fill in, a customer will simply shop elsewhere, and in the process, get very frustrated by your company. A digital hotelier can help you to develop easy to fill forms and a quick booking process so customers don’t get irritated.

Working on your loading times

A customer or guest scrolls through mobile when they have some free time. Your job is to push the right information through. You must ensure you only relevant content that drives the guest to making a booking. It is also very important to check if the images, graphics and videos load properly. If pages take too long to load it can be very frustrating.

Loyalty offers

Every other hotel business is trying to reach out to the same customer as you and competition is fierce. You need to give your customers something to book with you for. For instance, you could an edge over others by having mobile-only loyalty or offers for your guests. This allows them to book with confidence, knowing they are getting a good deal. Essentially, customers want to know they have booked a good deal, so you can regularly run promotions across all platforms to help customers take advantage of your hotel.

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Booking Engine

New research has found that most hotel apps are not considered useful or essential – meaning guests are less likely to use them or are prone to delete them after downloading.

The research was carried out by L2 Inc, a business intelligence consultancy. It reviewed 311 hotel brand apps before concluding that there is a huge gap in the hotel app experience.

L2 found that very few hotel apps are ranked within the App Store’s list of top travel apps. The review found that most hotel apps were also infrequently updated, with many not updated at all so far this year. Only 14% of the hotel apps reviewed were ranked within the top 1500 of their native categories. More than half of hotel apps – 54% – had not been updated in the last 12 months.

What’s worse news for hotel marketers is that hotels are frequently missing the mark when it comes to offering useful, engaging in-app experiences. The majority of apps were found to only allow users to message their hotel’s concierge or make a reservation.

This means most accommodation providers with an app for their hotel were missing out on more engaging and immersive functionality. 43% of hotel apps miss the grade when it comes to rating as a core app – an app that permits users to carry out one of three core functions; in-stay services, loyalty connections.  and booking. A meagre 6% of all hotel apps got it right and enabled app users to do all three.

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The overwhelming message from the survey findings is that hotel marketers must do better. The current status quo is that hotel app functionality is basic, with a minimum level of user friendliness built up, with other features overlooked. Even larger brands fail to get it right.

While this may, on the face of it, be disheartening for independent hotel and accommodation providers, it actually points to an opportunity to offer superior mobile app experiences. This by default means offering better guest experiences and, means those competing on smaller budgets can more than match larger chains when it comes to offering mobile users what they want – and expect – from a travel app.

One of the biggest opportunities identified by L2 is for hotel apps to better serve loyal client sand reward that loyalty within the app itself. One industry commenter says the fact so many apps fail to incorporate loyalty rewards is a huge missed opportunity, ““If you look at all the things that hotels have been doing to get more loyalty members and get them to book direct, why aren’t they trying to engage those members through their apps? These are some concerning numbers here.”

What can your hotel do to improve its app experience?

Placing the user front and centre is key to offering an improved hotel all experience. Incorporate as much functionality as possible, going beyond a reservation or message system to allow for other useful, helpful features. Building in loyalty capabilities is non-negotiable if you want to increase guest retention, repeat booking and direct booking. Consider also features such as check in from the app, social media sharing and travel add-on ordering such as excursions, experiences and in-room or in-hotel dining.

Get in touch with the Digital Hotelier team to discuss how our experts can help you take your hotel app to the next level with better capability and more user-friendly functionality.

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Digital Marketing
Mobile apps are an indispensable tool for hotel marketers and an absolutely critical asset in the fight to secure more direct bookings and revenue per room.

The business case for investing in apps for hotel booking purposes is clear – industry predictions point to huge growth in app revenues, with some projections forecasting that “…apps will generate $188.9 billion U.S. dollars in revenues via app stores and in-app advertising by 2020.” (source). There’s also research from Yahoo, that suggests the majority of mobile screen time is now spent on apps rather than surfing the net.

So, while the rewards are plentiful, the path to success is also paved with pitfalls. Competition is fierce too – with an estimated 6.5 million apps to choose from, how do you ensure your hotel app is the one that consumers install and use?

Let’s take a look at the main reasons app marketing falls flat…

1. Failure to Research
Almost every marketer has made this rookie mistake at one time or another, but it really is one of the cardinal sins which can make the difference between great marketing and a disappointing failure. Without solid research at the very outset of your app development and marketing process, you are preparing yourself for failure far more readily than success. Pay close attention to the competitive background surrounding the new app you are developing before completion so as to help inform both its development and its overall marketing strategy.

2. Failure to Adapt for Different Platforms
There are some big differences between the ways Windows, Android and iOS function and display information, so a great mobile hotel app needs to be tested on all three to ensure it is optimised for all purposes. Following developer guides applicable to each platform helps to ensure usability across a range of different platforms.

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3. Forgetting Customer Retention
It’s important to remember that in order to keep users coming back to your app time and time again, you must be offering them something of real value. Many apps discover that around 90% of those who use it disappear within 6 months, so if you want to give your mobile app some real staying power, your marketing plan must have an awareness of who will glean the most true value from your offering, and market accordingly.

4. Demanding too Much Information
Whilst mobile apps often require information during the registration process as a way to optimise the experience for users, asking for too much up-front could turn potential hotel guests off. Consider how to tactfully gain the information you require when marketing apps for hotel booking.

5. Forcing App Adoption
If you’re proud of your mobile app, chances are you want your prospective hotel guests to use it – but there’s a vast difference between encouraging usage and forcing their hand. Instead of making app adoption mandatory in order to book, show your hotel guests how simple it is to use, and the real value the app will bring to the booking experience.
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