Apps can be a great asset to any hotel—they can enable everything from making dinner reservations to booking spa appointments, arranging laundry or dry cleaning, ordering room service, checking-in and checking-out, and, of course, booking accommodations and paying for them. They carry plenty of benefits for both hoteliers and guests, but what about the downsides?
Some people still assume that using an app is really a way of cutting out any interaction with staff, but that is far from the truth. The fact is, while most people prefer to deal face-to-face with staff, using a device is much more convenient, can be done from anywhere, and takes much less time. From an operational point of view, apps can streamline reservations, services, and amenities as guests make requests remotely, immediately, and with ease. Compare that to in-person guest inquiries, which might lead to a line at the front desk and cause guests to become frustrated. Furthermore, many responses to guests’ app requests can be automated to reduce the burden on hotel staff. An app can enhance guests’ experiences while also allowing staff to get on with running a hotel efficiently and use their energies more creatively.
But an app is far more than just a helping hand. The technology can allow hoteliers to gather specific data on the user’s habits and behaviors. Over time, information based on interactions and guests’ preferences can be compiled and analyzed to give hotel management insights that can help them improve hotel operations. For example, guests’ data can help determine staffing levels at various times of the day and where resources should be allocated. Knowing the peak times and down times when guests are likely to request service can help reduce the time that staff spends waiting around for guest requests and instead direct them towards other tasks.
Loyalty programs are another area that can be integrated into a hotel app to improve efficiency by helping upsell the business and encourage repeat visits. Push notifications can communicate to past customers when there are special discounts, promotions, and other incentives available.
To the always-connected customer, apps provide capabilities that guests are coming to expect of hotels, no matter their size. For smaller chains or independent properties, the perceived cost can be off-putting. Budgets will almost always determine the course a hotelier takes—whether they outsource an app to a third party, make a DIY version, or hire a developer. There are plenty of platforms around to help hotels develop their own app to achieve the results they want. Ultimately, the practical simplicity and user experience that an app can provide far outweighs not having one.
About the Author
Nabeena Mali is the head of marketing at the App Institute.