Thinking about developing an app for your hotel? We have put together some arguments for you; both pro and con. Read ahead to see if there is something in it for you.
In almost any industry and our personal life being up-to-date with technology seems to be crucial. People spend a whole lot of their time in front of computers and on their smartphones. It is not only tech-savvy people who appreciate smart and easy UX, quick and efficient service which is available 24/7. Hotel guests are keen on that too. They want their holiday or business stay to be as effortless and smooth as possible and we have apps for that now. These days about 40% of bookings are done via a mobile phone.
Big chains like the Marriott, Hyatt or the Ritz-Carlton have their apps with mind-blowing luxury functions available with a couple of touches such as: wake up calls, check-in and out and 24/7 personalised help and video chat. But of course not everyone is keen on apps, they need to be well designed, smartphone-friendly and not too pushy with the upsell. Guests don’t want to see useless and irrelevant information constantly being sent to them via push notifications or use up their internet limit for the app.
So what is the middle ground? Should you have a hotel app or not? Let’s discover what are the pros and cons of hotel apps together.
The pros are the following:
1.) Personalised guest experience: a new level of guest communication. You can send welcome messages, show booking details, notify guests about your extra services and inform them about places to visit nearby. We are pretty sure your guests will appreciate that they only need to lift a finger for all this information or even for ordering.
2.) Convenience: The app is available anywhere, anytime (of course mostly with the internet). Guests can use it even while commuting or dining. Some hotels, like the Hilton, even offer keyless entrance to your room with their app. Technology allows us to control all kinds of features digitally, so if you feel like you could hook up your Airco, TV, room keys and all kinds of other facilities to your app.
No more forgotten keys, no more unnecessary lines at the reception!
It’s also really good for those with social anxiety because they can interact with an app instead of a human being.
3.) Improved brand loyalty and direct bookings: customers can book their rooms through an app to any location of your hotels. I will use the Hilton as an example, through their app you can book a room to any of their 5700+ properties. How convenient is that? Guests might as well just keep on using your app for bookings.
4.) Smoother operation, better data on management: With an app, you can track people’s consumption, the demand for specific services and offers. You can notify customers if you run out of something. An app can also help with check-in, serve as a key, notify you if a customer does not want cleaning so you can allocate your staff accordingly, and increase productivity all over. The data you collect can also serve to later identify types of travelers and send targeted notifications to these. Read more about travel personas here.
5.) Getting reviews and feedback: an app can facilitate feedback from guests, and you and fix issues real fast if they notify you. Same with reviews, a well-designed app will allow guests to send reviews with just a couple of clicks.
However, there is also a downside to hotel apps.
1.) If you are not a chain most of the perks listed above will not apply to you, but you could try getting a hotel tool. According to Hotel Online guests mostly use the hotel app for ordering and communicating issues, which is all available in GuestJoy or other hotel add-ons.
2.) Apps can be costly: your app should run on both Android and iOS, therefore you would need to have two different versions, so all of your customers can use it. To synch up your PMS and CM might not be that difficult if you have your development team, but later it can get very costly with all the updates. Additionally, there is constant maintenance involved with fixing bugs, adding new features, improving the app or remaking it for a newer version of Android/iOS. Keeping the same developers on board can also be a challenge, after all, they know their work best.
3.) People prefer sites and not apps: an app is only available via download, and most people would not want to download something just for their stay. (The average Android app is 11.5MB. And the average iOS app file size is 34.3MB). You need bandwidth to use it: Maybe I am the last human on earth who does not have unlimited data, but I definitely would not waste my 4G on ordering something when I could just run down to the reception and ask myself. An app can also be less personal, some customers prefer the human touch.
In the end, of course, it is your decision what to do. You can hire developers, or just ask your PMS – CM provider which add-ons are they integrated with that could help you upsell.