We all know that modern-day mobile applications like Uber, Yelp, and Shazam have made our lives easy but there is a catch-22 situation here! These so-called make-our-lives-easier-apps also create a lot of fuss because every time you want to use an app you have to install them and if your smartphone is running low on memory then you would have to uninstall a few in order to install a new app!
Today, the hotel industry comprises of more millennial travelers than regular ones and if you want to grow your business; you'll have to cater to the needs of a millennial by making your hotel relevant! These days millennial business travelers expect your hotel to be mobile-friendly and they want an experience that must be Instagrammable in each and every way. After all, they use their devices during all phases of the travel, from dreaming, to planning, to booking, to experiencing and finally... to sharing. So, you need to be there every step of the way.
If a hotelier wants to boost their sales they must start embracing the mobile guest. They are not just the future for hotels, but the ‘here and now’ without any doubt. And, there is no longer any viable excuse to delay offering an all-encompassing mobile presence for them. However, the question most hotels get caught up on is whether or not a custom mobile app is necessary for them to stand out from their competitors, attract more bookings and redefine their guest experience.
But also, mobile is a critical component of any hotel’s booking and distribution strategy, especially if you’re are trying to boost the hotel bookings with millennials. Mobile websites are readily accessible to anyone with a cell phone (the majority of people worldwide), which gives your hotel the opportunity to reach more potential customers (than using mobile apps).
But to its flipside, there are cons to mobile-based applications as well! As a hotelier, the main challenge with the mobile app is that customers generally need to be looking for you (or your fierce competitor) and it takes time, money, energy, and effort to ensure you are easily found (either via mobile marketing strategies, SEO or advertisement), which – especially for small and mid-size properties/brands – is almost impossible given the time and resources that the OTAs put into digital marketing, customer acquisition and website conversion.
Let us understand the real pros and cons of creating a mobile application for your hotel.
Advantages of Mobile Apps for a Hotel:
1. One-touch bookings for guests: If developed well, your hotel app can save important information of your user and payment details and with such stored information, guests just need to do few clicks in order to book a room, which plays a vital role in giving pleasant user experience.
2. Efficiently consolidate guest details: If executed well, an app can track the in-house behavior of your guests and their booking habits such as if they book a spa appointment, book dining reservations or order any room service etc. This way you can anticipate the needs of the guests for their future stay.
3. Hotel apps for loyalty building: A hotel app becomes very effective when it is integrated with your guest loyalty program. Guests will be able to collect points for their stays and direct bookings, which can be eventually converted into rewards.
4. A new level of communication: With a wonderful hotel app, staff can easily respond to guests' requests and offer them real-time updates. In addition, guests can request room service, early check-ins and can also request their car from valet and many more.
5. A viable marketing platform: A mobile app has many functions! From providing general info to search features to news feeds, a hotel app allows you to share any information that you please. Having an app for your hotel business allows for all the information you want to get across to your customers available instantly at their fingertips. This means that you can promote your business the way you want it, directly to the customer.
6. Boost your hotel staff productivity: Mobile apps are the perfect tool for you as a hotel manager on the moving staff. If you have a mobile app then you can hassle freely send requests on their devices which will, in turn, address them faster and significantly improve their efficiency.
Disadvantages of Mobile Apps for a Hotel:
1. Hotel apps aren’t as valuable to the independent hotels: People consider their phone as my precious! (hope you read that in Gollum’s voice) and will only install apps that they’ll use frequently. A hotel app is not competing with other hotel apps for space, but rather any other app that the user finds valuable, including social media, productivity apps, games, music, etc.
2. Highly complex and costly: If you are looking forward to creating a truly worthwhile app, then you should not forget that it requires hefty investment in development and testing! In addition to this, don't forget the difficulty in syncing the app with mobile check-ins and virtual concierge functions.
3. Not flexible with different devices and technology updates: You need to create different versions for iOS and Android devices, whereas one hotel mobile website is compatible across all devices. Every year new devices are launched with new operating systems, which need app upgrades and compatibility issues and these things will bring headaches and a lot of investment over time. Nowadays, hotels are getting tech-savvy and are replacing customary mobile apps with the up-to-date AI-powered chatbots since they’re interactive and conversational in all manners.
4. Sharing your hotel profit with the app store: If you are planning on creating revenue from your app, whether it’s through paid downloads of the app itself or through the purchase of goods and/or services on the app, be mindful that the app store shares a chunk of it. An article by IGeeksBlog revealed that the store receives 30% of revenue if the app uses Apple iTunes as payment. And don’t forget about sales and other related taxes!
5. Perpetual app maintenance: With the benefit of hindsight that the technological world is advancing quickly, there’s no doubt that it will continue to do this! In order to keep up with a fast-paced tech-oriented world, the app you create will have to continue to advance as well. Constant updates will be required to ensure that the app continues to run through the user’s new phone updates (either iOS or Android). Mobile apps require long-term investment.