Why an App for Your Hotel Is Not Worth It
By Brandon Dennis VP of Marketing, Cloudbeds.com | January 26, 2014
The point of an app is to be seen, but discoverability is a serious issue for apps on all app stores, including Apple's. Mobile analytics firm Adeven revealed this year that over 2/3rds of all apps ever created have never been downloaded; not even once. (source ) Unless you already know what you're looking for on the app store, apps are hard to find. Many people skim featured apps in the app store, but most of the top 300 featured apps are established apps that likely won't slip in the rankings anytime soon. This means that the only way a guest is likely to find your hotel app is if they intentionally look for it by name.
The travel sections of app stores are particularly crowded. In the Apple App Store, the travel section is split into several categories, such as "Plan your trip" and "Your local guide", all of which are dominated by non-hotel apps like Kayak, Jetsetter, Tripid, and Airbnb. Once you finally find the "Destinations" section, you also won't find any hotel apps. The top apps in this section are Disney and National Geographic. Even popular hotel apps, like Choice, Hilton and Marriott, are missing from all travel related featured app categories. You can only find them by searching for them by name.
When it comes to website analytics, we see that traffic comes from three major channels: Organic (search engines), Direct (typing the website into the browser directly, or clicking a bookmarked page), and Referral (visitors from other sites). For healthy hotel websites, over 50% of their traffic should come from Organic, with a nice chunk coming from referrals (if they have a strong PR strategy), and then a handful of direct visitors (such as rewards members or regular guests).
With apps in the app store, there is essentially only one kind of traffic that will download your app-Direct, the smallest sliver of traffic around. There are two reasons for this; A) Because Apple and Google are unlikely to feature your app in their stores, and because few websites actually link directly to apps. This happens sometimes, like if your app is lucky enough to be featured in a popular blogger's "Top travel apps of 20XX" roundup (which-let's face it-will almost always be the latest up-and-coming clever startup like Hotel Tonight, not an independent hotel app). More than likely, however, the only referral link your app will gain will come from your own website. B) Because an app store search functionality does not work like Google, and is ill-suited for hotel apps.
To illustrate, let's say you want to find a compass app on the app store. You will likely go to the search section and type in "compass". You'll then be presented a list of apps that have the word "compass" in either the app name or the app description.