Read this article if you have wondered if an app for hotels and vacation rentals is useful for managing your business or if you do not even know what this type of application is. In this article you will find: 1) the results of some research conducted about the use of these modern technologies; 2) an assessment of the pros and cons of mobile apps in the hospitality industry. Your ultimate goal must be to understand if you need this tool or if it is a useless investment.
What is an app for hotels and vacation rentals?
The expression hotel apps refers to:
- the apps that the hotels, vacation rentals and other accommodations make available to their guests;
- some applications used by travellers to search and book mobile accommodation.
The firsts are apps for hotels and accommodation facilities for those who have already booked. They have two purposes: 1) to improve the guest experience in the accommodation (in this sense the hotel apps are digital concierge); 2) simplify and make more efficient the guest management for the host, before, during and after their stay. There are three types: – the application is developed by a large hotel chain for all their brand properties; – the single activity relies on an IT company for the realization of its app; – or there are mobile apps already developed and customizable by the individual property. The guests downloads the application on their mobile device and accesses a variety of services that vary according to the level of development of the application.
The latter are part of a broader discussion related to OTAs and search engines focused on the travel and hospitality industry, such as Trivago, which we will not cover in this article.
Some numbers regarding the use of mobile hotel apps
On June 12th, 2017 J. D. Power, an international research company based in California specialized in surveying the customer experience, published the results of its latest study about hotel guest satisfaction in North America. Here we report what they say:
mobile apps are becoming central to the hotel guest experience as much as the softness of the pillows, the extra linens and … the competitiveness of the price.
In short, hotels that have an app available to their guests get a higher guest satisfaction, build customer loyalty and they are more likely to share their positive experience on social networks. The percentage of guests in an accommodation that downloads the hotel app available is 19%. The figure rises to 70% among guests who are part of a loyalty program. Among those who downloaded, 38% do not use it. 4% use it during check-in and 1% for check-out, but when it happens the satisfaction with the accommodation is greater.
The figures are not high yet, but above all they highlight that the combination of loyalty programs and concierge apps brings success to every tourist accommodation. Also, J.D. Power as Skift affirms the centrality of mobile and technology. In the article of 24 July 2017 dedicated to the 5 innovations that will most influence the hospitality industry according to Skift, we talked about how hotel and tourist accommodation in general can exploit mobile innovation.
The Pros and cons of hotel apps
The advantages of a digital concierge
- Chat and push notifications. If you manage a hotel, you know how difficult it is to communicate with the guests before, during and after their stay. Immediately after booking, invite the guests to download the app and send them some useful info before arrival. During their stay, easily chat with them, checking the level of satisfaction in real time. After their departure, send push notifications with discounts and promotions to build guests loyalty.
- Visibility of internal and external services. The internal and external services are in sight and accessible. The guest can book them quickly without having to call or go to the reception for more info. Hotels, the Airbnb hosts, B&Bs can highlight the services that want to push and recommend external service providers (rental, restaurants, etc.) that they trust more and with which have agreements.
- Digital Map. Who runs a hotel often loses a lot of time preparing and updating informative material about the destination for guests. Some hotel apps integrate a digital map with the attractions and points of interest (hospitals, stations, airports) in the area.
- Better reputation. Customers are encouraged to leave a comment about their travel experiences and share it on social networks. Given that customer satisfaction does not depend only on the mobile app, it happens that satisfied guests forget to review the accommodation. This happens even though the OTAs as Booking invite you to do so. The review request that comes directly from the host who has just made us live a good experience, is more likely to be satisfied.
The disadvantages of mobile apps for accommodations
- People use a few apps. After the initial success of the apps, their growth has diminished. Smartphone owners are used to use the usual 5/6 apps. People are also reluctant to download new apps because of the device’s memory. Or once downloaded, the application is deleted immediately if not intuitive and easy to use.
- Property hosts have other priorities. Hotels and vacation rentals cannot live without a site that is easy to navigate via mobile. It is also essential to integrate on your site an efficient booking engine to get more and more away from OTAs and incentivize direct bookings. The app is not a priority investment.
- Hotels and vacation rentals have similar tools available. Rather than developing your own hotel app, you can use other tools. For example, to chat with the customer there are whatsapp and messenger. Emails are useful for providing information before the stay. While after departure you can request the guest to leave a review.
- Users use the internet to search for information. Web users browse for information to decide which accommodation to book. The intent of the internet user is the search, not the download. So, whoever is involved in hotel management, has to worry that all the information on their property can be found online, are up to date and correct.
So, do I need an app for tourist accommodation?
In conclusion. Apps for hotels, vacation rentals, Airbnb hosts, B&B improve customer satisfaction; they help hosts to manage the guests; they are part of that mobile browsing experience, that is without a doubt the future of the hospitality industry. Certainly if your site is not optimized for mobile browsing, you have other priorities. However, sooner or later hotel apps will insert in the customer loyalty strategy to disengage from OTAs.
Edgar Smart Concierge is the app for hotels and vacation rentals
Edgar Smart Concierge is the mobile app tailored to your accommodation. In fact, the price changes depending on the number of rooms. The investment is reduced because Edgar is not an application that you have to develop from scratch but quickly customize it with details about your property. With Edgar, your guests has internal and external services, maps, chat window and much more on their smartphone. Edgar can be integrated with PMS and Channel Manager.
If you want to discover the potential of the app for hotels and vacation rentals, ask to access the DEMO version of Edgar Smart Concierge. You can test the reception suite and create your own app to let your guests try. Contact us to request the Edgar Smart Concierge DEMO.