Guests satisfaction in hotel business is crucial; happy clients are likely to visit again and recommend the hotel to others. Recommendations help hoteliers to broaden their audience without investing in any promotional activity. This can sometimes result in businesses struggling to provide experiences, rather than services.
“The hotel of the future”, a research piece by Deloitte, emphasises that consumers increasingly expect new capabilities, personalisation and seamlessness in their hospitality experience. The main task for hotel management is to provide their guests with fast services, on-time information and 24/7 attention.
A wealth of mobile, digital, cloud and technology solutions can be used to shorten the gap between customers’ raising expectations and the level of hotel services. Let’s learn more about an application that has already grabbed the attention of the most famous hotels like Marriott and Hilton, but is still affordable for small accommodations.
Current challenges for hoteliers
Besides common issues like raising competition from platforms like Airbnb, or lack of qualified staff, hotel managers also face other kinds of challenges. They are related to customer perception, which influences business more than people think.
Constantly changing guest expectations
Current research characterises modern customers as tech-savvy and independent. They want to get the most value for their money, no matter how much they spend. Hotel guests are even more demanding, as they expect both great service and personal interaction. As guests like comparisons, they liken new experiences to previous ones and want to get better services each time.
Poor customer satisfaction
According to Deloitte research, 1 in 4 travellers allocate more than 75% of their share of finances to their preferred hotel brand, yet some hoteliers still think they provide a space for sleep only. Such an approach kills experiences and leads to a loss of clientele due to dissatisfactory services.
Lack of entertainment
“Corporate hotels, they’re not awful, but they’re forgettable: nothing stands out, they all feel and look the same, you can’t tell them apart, and you are happy to leave,” reported business traveller David, to the Deloitte interviewers. Unfortunately, this experience is not limited to corporate hotels. Both businesspeople and holidaymakers want to be entertained, but they don’t get it in most hotels and are left disappointed.
Ignoring these facts is not wise for managers who care about the future of their facilities - if the business wants to make guests feel appreciated, find a way to resolve their issues, at least partially. Guest experience management software, such as Hotel Mobile App, can help hotel owners to better respond to the wants and needs of their customers.
What is Hotel Mobile App?
Imagine hotel guests checking in through a mobile app, without the need for a long visit to reception. Their room key is already loaded into the app. All additional services like transfers or spa facilities are available to book through the application. They can leave feedback about services after consumption and check out without receptionist assistance.
Hospitality will always require a human touch, so using the app doesn’t mean the absence of live communication. Users still can ask staff for services or information, if they like. This digital environment just makes the process more convenient and gives customers the opportunity to choose.
Why should hotels have their own mobile app?
Even the simplest business improvement requires an investment of time and money, and when we talk about investments we also talk about expediency. There are several reasons to develop hotel mobile application:
Accelerate the check in and check out process
The common check in process is all about paperwork, and sometimes queues. When there is no problem with the reservation, hotel registration takes 3 minutes in app, compared to up to 15 minutes at the reception desk. Check-out can take double this time. Hotel Management Mobile App can resolve this problem, as customers who have booked a room can then register through the application. Custom solutions can also include in-app payment, so guest independence would be even higher.
Promote special offers and collect feedback
Hotel app users can receive promotional offers such as discounts or free items. Some hotels collaborate with other companies to provide free samples of their products, for instance cosmetics, to guests. There are many additional hotel services that are suitable for promotion. Guests consume more services, then rate them or write reviews, enabling management to understand the business strengths and weaknesses.
Increase the additional services revenue share
On average, about only 50-60% of hotel revenue is produced by room inventory, while food, beverages and additional services brings in the remaining 40 -50%. It is obvious that additional services have huge potential, which is usually unrealised or underutilised. Guests rarely notice brochures at reception, even if they need extra services. In-app notifications and offers, however, would be instantly seen, leading to an increase in the number of potential orders.
Increase customer satisfaction
What makes customers happy? Fast services, personalisation, bonuses and entertainment make hotel guests feel better during vacations or business trips. CMO by Adobe highlights that customer spends increase, alongside trust, after building a relationship. Eventually, loyal customers spend 67% more than new ones.
Finally, hoteliers decide if they should or shouldn’t use hotel app by themselves. Not every business requires software solutions, but most hotel managers do experience at least some of the highlighted challenges. Therefore, they would be happy to have an app with useful features.
The app functionality depends on a particular hotel’s needs and budget. Some invest generously to offer booking features or 360° views, while smaller hotels, using online travel agencies for booking, implement the following functionality:
Check in and check out
Convert paper forms into digital and try to simplify them as much as possible. For example, after booking through OTAs, users get a reservation number that can be used in the app to simplify the registration process by syncing up the data.
Hotel guests don’t lose their keys anymore. Bluetooth technology enables guests to use their mobile phone as a key for their room, the gym, parking and other premises. After the guest has checked in, they get access to the digital key.
During the low season, most hotels are able to provide room upgrades for a nominal fee. It is easy for guests to complete this through the mobile app, or a hotel can offer the opportunity to upgrade stays as a loyalty bonus.
Additional Services and Discounts
Even though hotel management usually devotes considerable efforts to promoting services, guests often don’t know about the offers they are eligible to receive. In-app notifications and suggestions keep users updated, and integration with a customer relationship management system can boost this feature.
According to Value Penguin stats, an average customer spends 9% of their travel budget on entertainment. That is great if you provide amusement inside the hotel, but if not, you can suggest places of interest to your guests. Maps, guides or information about local hotspots help people to spend more time relaxing.
The possible functions of the app are not limited to the features in this list. The extensive version may include loyalty program integration, direct booking, satisfaction management, or any specific features that hotel managers want to see. In case they are not sure which options to choose, existing hotel mobile applications can be used as a reference.
There are flagship companies in every industry, and a reader won’t be surprised by the fact that flagship hotels use hotel mobile apps. It is useful to study the best practices within the industry before developing a project, but sometimes others’ failures can be even more useful than their successes. Either way, in-depth analysis requires the determination of both pros and cons.
Over one million users downloaded the Marriott Bonvoy mobile application. As one of the biggest hotel brands in the world, they provide bookings across 19 internal brands in 78 countries. The app features allow guests to contact the hotel before arrival and choose items to include into their room service. To make their stay more exciting, the hotel allows guests to browse maps and look through city guides within the app. The Marriott Rewards loyalty programme is also incorporated into the Bonvoy app, offering an end-to-end user experience.
Users rated Marriott Bonvoy as 4.8 stars on thee App Store and 4 on the Google Play store. Many reviews suggest the app doesn’t work properly and should be improved, so hotel managers have a lot to learn from Marriott’s example.
The original idea is full of hands-on features, such as booking, check-in, digital keys, add-on ordering and check-out. The hotel also shows they care about customers’ entertainment, providing information about popular local destinations.
However, great app functionality becomes useless in cases of poor development. The example shows there are few crucial points to consider when providing a hotel booking mobile app to guests. Some of them are not obvious, but the success of the whole project depends on them.
How to improve customer experience in hotels via a hotel mobile app
Think over features and custom software
Most hotel owners are sure their hotel is special, and they may have a point, however customers perceive distinct companies differently. Project development is all about preparation, so put many hours into this part. Match the services you provide with customer expectations and your budget to create an app concept. Most software development companies provide project estimate and tech consulting within 48 hours. An elaborated concept and professional point of view are two things you need to start a project.
Don’t launch a half ready application
Many managers hurry to try developed software. They spread an app among guests, or even promote it using media advertising. After a while, people find bugs and rate the solution as an inappropriate one. The project budget becomes bigger, as the manager needs to fix issues and persuade people to try the app one more time. Here comes an easy, but valuable piece of advice: try the app by yourself, before the launch, and ensure all features work correctly. It is worth precious time, as poor app work can scare early users away.
Don’t force users to download the app
More than 50 percent of smartphone users download zero mobile apps per month, according to Statista. Upon entering the hotel, offer guests devices with the app installed so they can try it out , but don’t exclude the opportunity for them to download it on a personal gadget. Even here, it is better to allow users to choose.
Even though the customer experience trend has been rising during the past 10 years, its importance in the hotel industry is still underestimated. Most managers concentrate their attention on the service itself, while the process of guests consuming this service is not explored enough.
There are many ways to improve a guest’s stay, such as compliments like a free bar, room upgrades, superior design of the rooms or a sincere birthday congratulations. However, there are even more possibilities to mess up, like lack of attention, missed room amenities and other issues. We can’t prevent all of them, but we can moderate the situation.
Hotel Mobile App is an additional tool with various features customised for the particular hotel specifics. It is a tangible chance to shorten the gap between small hotel services and more upmarket ones, without significant investments.