Driving Revenue Through Your Mobile App

By Tom O'Rourke President & CEO, O'Rourke Hospitality | September 30, 2012

With every passing day, the mobile market continues to evolve into a necessary marketing channel that guests have come to rely on. Mobile applications have seen constant evolution since they were introduced (arguably with the introduction of the iPhone) and now that they have been on the market for some time, hotels are seeing solid results that prove apps are worth their time and cost. Throughout this piece we will examine how hotels are increasing their revenue with their mobile applications through mobile bookings, in app room service orders, by highlighting on-property amenities, sending push notifications and the most successful tactic – simply being in the mobile space when guests are looking.

Mobile Bookings

In most cases, mobile bookings will be your biggest opportunity for increasing direct revenue. While many of your other opportunities for revenue generation rely on mobile bookings (spa or dinner reservations for example), this section will focus on mobile room bookings. First and foremost, before you can make money with your hotel mobile application you need to put it in the palm of your guests’ hands. Increase app downloads with careful planning and strategic marketing tools, and you’ll be well on your way to driving revenue through your mobile app. Here’s an example:

One of our clients, WorldMark South Pacific Club, added a link to their app in their email signatures and created a feature on their website with “on the go” information promoting their app. These two very simple steps directly led to 216 app downloads during the month of April. They also dedicated a section of their email newsletter to information about the app which led to an additional 207 downloads. As you can see from the charts below, the very same day the email newsletter was sent, there was a significant increase in app downloads (right) and in the days following this, WorldMark South Pacific Club experienced a steady flow of mobile bookings.

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In addition to the spikes in downloads, mobile bookings and revenue our clients have seen from effective marketing, it is important to also recognize successes experienced by others. The InterContinental Hotels Group saw a nearly 1,000 percent increase in room night bookings from mobile devices in 2010 and 2011, because smart phone adoption rates had increased so significantly. The InterContinental Hotels Group also ramped up marketing efforts and increased their usage of push notifications during this time. However, as effective as good marketing can be, never under estimate the power of change. As smart phone adoption rates continue to climb, your app’s downloads and mobile bookings will steadily climb as well.

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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.