Hotel Mobile Apps

By Tom O'Rourke President & CEO, O'Rourke Hospitality | June 28, 2015

Mobile apps can offer guests great utility; that is, they make doing something easier. It is one of the reasons why travel apps have become so popular. It makes the process of travel research so much easier for the end user; it is also why over 50% of travelers will do travel research on a smartphone. Another great point to keep in mind is that mobile travel sales are projected to increase by 60% this year, reaching $26.14 billion; the growth is truly tremendous.

As you would expect given these statistics, a lot of popular travel apps are focused on pre-arrival, but there is something to be said about mobile apps that offer guests utility while on-property. The big brands are really starting to capitalize on this, offering mobile apps that unlock rooms and can tell the valet to have your vehicle ready; they understand that guest are as mobile as ever and value the conveniences and mobile device can bring them.

Spas come to mind as a segment that could really benefit from the use of mobile apps while guests are on-property. A hotel mobile app can provide a lot of utility here through various functions, particularly by using push notifications. Push notifications are simply messages that are displayed on a guest's phone, and something the hotel would be able to control and target.

For instance, if the guest books using the hotel app, another great feature available to guests, then we are able to identify certain things about that guest and use it to our advantage. As an example, if we know that a guest is arriving on property for a romantic weekend, then we can send a push notification, or message, to the guest before they arrive and offer discounted spa services.

Best of all, the hotel app would allow the guest to view the spa's schedule and book an appointment directly through the app. The guest could then select to charge the appointment to their room, and they can view their charged appointments and the associated costs in the app's folio. This gives them the option of keeping track of all their charges wherever they go. These functions provide the guest great utility, which is the main goal of the hotel app.

Another scenario might be if the guest booked a spa appointment in advance, this would be a great time to send them a push notification reminding them of their appointment. Even better, it would be a great time to upsell on some other services. For instance, if we know they are coming in for a massage, why not send a push notification asking if they would like to add another 30 minutes to their massage to make it an hour. Maybe their coming in for a pedicure and you offer to add a manicure as well. Again, the guest can book these additional services directly through the hotel app, providing them great utility and convenience while providing additional value for the property.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.