Need a hotel? There’s definitely an app for that! In fact, hotel booking sites and apps (like Expedia, Hotels.com, Venere) are gaining in popularity with 76% of leisure travelers choosing them for their lower prices and better deals. On the flip side, we’ve become less inclined to book via branded hotels sites. In fact, 13% of travelers stop using brand sites & apps altogether due to a poor mobile experience.
Intermediary booking sites, with their mobile muscle, create distance between the hotel and guest. So, what’s a hotel to do? The secret is creating a better mobile experience! We’ve taken a look at some of the leading hotels with mobile apps to see how they are evolving from booking-only to guest experience focused.
Beyond the booking
Many hotel mobile apps integrate their booking systems to provide a seamless reservation process, however a few step it up a notch and take advantage of push notifications or in-app messaging to remind guests about their booking or provide them valuable information about their stay. The Ritz-Carlton app gives guests the option to check-in early, access special offers, room service and check-out, when they log-in with their reservation code, and uses push notifications as well as messaging to stay in close contact with guests.
Ensuring a pleasant stay and more!
With hotel apps, the concierge is only a tap away, ready to answer any question or provide a personalized service to guests. But that’s not all. Many hotels now provide curated guides of things to do, places to eat, transportation tips and maps that are selected for the guest in mind. For example, The Bulgari Hotel in London have curated an entire guide for the Bulgari traveler, from nightlife to shopping, to galleries (below, left). Suggestions can be mapped out and eventually shared via social media, like the screenshot below of the Ritz app.
Hotels can also use the in-app experience to promote room services or other hotel services like dining or spa services, giving guests the option to quickly contact someone for more information or book immediately. Marriott has an app specifically designed to accommodate guest requests, which is supported by a few of their hotels. When integrated with the hotel’s booking system, requests can be managed with forms, making it possible for hotel staff to get requests automatically and have charges applied directly to the guest account.
Growing guest loyalty with incentives
As we mentioned before, many people opt for travel booking apps because of deals and offers, however, hotels can get a slice of the action by offering something exclusive. Leveraging the brand experience, hotels like The Thompson promote offers tailor-made for their guest. Hotels can promote offers within the app, send out push notifications and then make it easy for users to book with a discount code or by integrating with the hotel booking system.
Reward programs are especially popular with hotels, and they can also be integrated into a native app. Many of the leading hotel chains let users log-in with their account to check their rewards status and use points when booking, like the examples above from Hilton and the Ritz-Carlton.
Apps essentially let brands get closer to customers, increasing brand affinity, loyalty and revenues. In the case of hotels, apps give guests the a unique experience leveraging the technology many travelers have in the palm of their hand.
Have you used a hotel app that made your hotel experience all the more memorable? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Photo: Kevin Dooley