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 June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.