Today, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts launched a new mobile app for both Apple and Android devices. The app will allow for mobile check-in and checkout at nearly 6,000 economy and midscale hotels in the United States, making Wyndham the first major hospitality chain to offer this feature at every U.S. property on a single platform.
“It’s not every day you get to put a digital product into the market like this, let alone in the middle of a pandemic when digital adoption is what it is right now,” says Jessica Davidson, senior vice president, digital, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “It was a lot of work, but it feels good to be able to get this out into the world.”
The app itself is “all about choices,” Davidson says, and it provides a simple yet immersive guest experience while responding to guests’ needs. Mobile check-in and checkout is the app’s most prominent feature. Travelers can access details of mobile check-in and checkout via In-Stay Mode, which also allows guests to message the front desk and find nearby attractions as early as three days before their stay.
Beyond mobile check-in and checkout, the app has a Lightning Book feature that locates and books the nearest Wyndham property, a function specifically created for road trip travelers. The app also includes My App Passport, a platform for redeeming rewards points and logging in-app accomplishments, as well as promotional offers and account management access.
Wyndham began working on the new app “well before COVID,” Davidson says, adding that the app has launched at the right time. “There was always a need for low-contact experiences and delivering them across our portfolio. Owners and guests want choices. We knew that some property features that we’re now able to offer in addition to the booking features had relevance. They just became all the more relevant now.”
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people, in general, are searching for ways to limit person-to-person contact and socially distance, especially as the crisis continues. Throughout the past six months, the app became, as Davidson says, “something we could have never imagined. We recognized that these features that limit contact were becoming more important than they ever were before. It wasn’t just guest preference, it was a matter of safety.”
Creating the app and rolling it out amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been “a labor of love,” Davidson says. “We’ve been very thoughtful, putting a lot of research and development into the product. It has really been fueled by usability, testing in the lab, customer intercepts, and competitive patterning. We did our due diligence, built a road map carefully, and evaluated the features to ensure that we’re bringing forward owner value.”
To prepare properties for a rollout of this magnitude, Wyndham has been testing the app across a small group of properties to learn how to best handle potential hiccups in the user experience. Wyndham’s training teams have also been actively onboarding the properties for the app and are essential to the app’s rollout. “For mobile check-in and checkout, our training team has been awesome in terms of engaging and preparing the hotels.” Davidson continues, “They’re going to be ensuring our hotels are up-to-speed in knowing what they need to do.”
In general, travelers have become more open to using technology while staying at a hotel. With the COVID-19 pandemic, people are willing to use technology to minimize touchpoints and contact with hotel staff and guests. The app streamlines Wyndham’s operations and interactions for both technology-savvy and COVID-aware travelers. And “not only are people becoming more digitally focused, but they’re using apps more,” Davidson says. “The team and the company are very fortunate that not only did they choose this investment and we worked so carefully on it, but that it’s coming at a time when people are more familiar with app stores and using apps. It’s a good time for a product like this to come into the market. We feel very grateful that the company invested in digital as we have been over the course of our transformation.”
Davidson adds, “We’re excited to bring this innovation to market to the everyday traveler. It’s a really great time for drive-to business. This app becomes really essential and important to our business. We’re just excited about the value to owners and guests that we can deliver.”