Apps have become a hugely important tool for mobile users in recent years. Whether you want to order a pizza or check train times, as Apple famously said, there’s an app for that.
Indeed, as of June 2015, more than 100 billion apps had been downloaded from the App Store, while data from Nielson showed that mobile apps account for 89 per cent of media time in mobile. As Yahoo pointed out in its own analysis: It’s an App World. The Web Just Lives in It. If you’re a hotel marketer, then the chances are that you’ve been following this trend of spending an increasing amount of time on apps closely and have perhaps been wondering whether to develop a mobile app for your own hotel or stick with a mobile optimised site.
Here, we’ll take a quick look at the potential options for hotel mobile apps
development, the pros and cons and examine if a branded app is the way forward for your property. What could hotel apps incorporate? Hotel apps aren’t a completely new phenomenon, so you’ll be able to take a look at existing tools in order to see how your own could apply to your business. Many of the larger chains have brought them in to great effect and they can operate a number of useful functions for guests. For example, special mobile check-in desks can be employed in hotel lobbies so that guests with QR codes on their apps can check in speedily, even at night. You could allow guests to book room service or spa treatments using their apps, or even choose what toiletries they require in the bathrooms prior to their arrival. It is also possible to upload things like 3D views of hotels and resorts or city guides to apps so that travellers can start anticipating their stay before they even reach your driveway.
A final idea is to have QR readers around the hotel so that anyone who has downloaded the app can use it to unlock special facilities or upgrades as they walk around with their smartphone in hand. Pros of apps You only have to look at the popularity of successful apps to see their potential benefits. For example, Just Eat has revolutionised the world of takeaways, while Uber is changing the way we use taxis. If your hotel is popular among millennials and tech-savvy business people, then you have a ready-made audience that will be used to using apps and may find yours of huge benefit to them, something that might encourage them to book with you again for convenience. They are also ideal for tech-forward cities like San Francisco, where they can link up with other service apps to allow travellers to have a fully individual, automated holiday experience.
Cons of apps However, there are some disadvantages to setting up apps too. If your hotel is marketed largely at older audiences who might not be tech-savvy, then it may not be used as much as you’d like. Also, there are so many apps out there that it is easy for yours to become lost in the crowds unless you have a strict marketing strategy in place – if your guests don’t know about your app, they can’t download it. Another key thing to think about is the price, as you may have to employ someone to develop an app for you if you’re not an expert on that kind of thing, as well as maintain it to ensure no bugs crop up to interrupt the user experience.
Finally, although app usage is incredibly high, many travellers still like to use a variety of materials when they’re at the planning and research stage, including websites, blogs and social media. If an app only offers bookings, is it really worth the time spent on it? As you can see, apps might be great for some hotels but not quite so useful for others. It’s up to you to take a look and decide if your property would be suitable for pairing up with an app or not.