Mobile users aren't just playing Angry Birds or checking the local weather, 38% have used their mobile devices to plan a trip and 60% of respondents said they have downloaded travel apps on their mobile devices, according to a TripAdvisor survey.
While travelling, 62% of travelers said they use their mobile devices to research restaurants. 51% check their flight status and 46% research attraction, 28% have checked in to a restaurant, hotel or attraction using their mobile device while on a trip, according to TripAdvisor. A research conducted by PhoCusWright shows that 75% of frequent business travelers (those making at least five trips a year) are smartphone owners. About half of frequent leisure travelers have smartphones.
There's more than enough evidence for the hospitality industry to use mobile apps, and some hotels have already started and are successfully doing it.
The first step for hotels is to have a mobile website where clients could easily access all information about your hotel, the second step is having a mobile app that offers a better opportunity to create a close connection with your guests. Price for mobile app development has decreased lately and apps are available now also for small-independent hotels, not only for hotel chains and luxury hotels.
It's not enough to only create a mobile app, in order to be successful it should also be included in the marketing mix. The app should be promoted on hotel's website, in booking confirmation emails, in the correspondence with your guests and on other marketing materials.
Having a mobile app also sends a message that the hotel is up to date with the latest trends and implies that the rest of your services are high quality.
Hotels can use incentives to encourage people to download their app, such as discounts for products or services, special offers etc. Don't be shy and try to push the app to as many users as possible, remember the mobile app can be the beginning of a close relationship with your guests. Include app download information on hotel brochures, key cards, on napkins, as part of the in-room entertainment system and on any place that is very visible.
You must be asking yourself, with which platform should I start, do I need to have both an iOS and an Android app? The answer is in your website's analytics, checkout how many people from which devices are accessing it and start with the biggest platform, then move to the rest of them.
App features and examples
Find hotels near your current position using GPS capability, view maps and use turn-by-turn navigation to get to the desired unit. You can see an example when looking at Hyatt's mobile apps. (iPhone, Android)
Hotel information about services and rooms, easily accessible and presented using high quality photos and videos.
View a calendar with events and points of attraction in the surroundings, be a true guide and give your guests valuable tips.
Book and cancel reservations directly from the app, make it really easy for guests to interact with your hotel. You can see an example when looking at LUXOR (Las Vegas) mobile apps. (iPhone, Android)
Click-to-call feature that guests can use to call hotels directly, make yourself available at one click distance.
Check-in and checkout using the app, forget about those lines at the front desk.
Use the app to request concierge services, order room services, schedule wake-up calls, request and confirm car rentals, make restaurant reservations, request luggage pickup. Checkout the app from Caesars Palace (iPhone, Android)
QR-code scanner to redeem promotions and discounts. People always like to make a good deal, so make use of discounts. You can also use the mobile app as a loyalty card.
Access the photo camera, host a contest and let people submit photos from and around your unit, engage with people and let them spread the word about your hotel.
In addition to convenience and ease-of-use for the guests, the apps also are a tool used to increase productivity and streamline operations, making it more easy for hotel managers to keep track of housekeeping duties, improve communication and improve service overall.
About the Author
Flavius Saracut is the Marketing Manager of Mobiversal, mobile app development agency serving companies from small to large. Mobiversal has successfully built from business apps, utilities to games, some of them being featured on media outlets like BBC, CNN, NBC and FOX News.