Did you know that in 2012 three out of every four active travelers used a mobile device? What’s even more amazing is that two out of those three active travelers will use their mobile devices to explore, shop and book activities while they are traveling. That is half of all active travelers! source: mydesitnation.com
With so much noise about mobile apps, once you decide you want one, it’s hard to know where to start. This article will help hoteliers cut through the noise and discover what you need to know before you create an app for your property.
1) What are your goals for the app?
A favorite quote of ours by Laurence Peter is, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else.” It is crucial that you decide what your goals will be and how you want your guests to use the app.
This will not be too difficult, you surly have already set goals for your hotel and what you want guests to do, ensure all of these things are included in your app.
Here are a couple of ideas to help you get started.
- Explore surrounding area
- Increase average capacity
- Fill event space
- Room-serivce/catering menus
- Sell partner venue tickets
- Convenient transportation
- Business services
- Keep guests in your resort
- Increase number of repeat guests
- Encourage them to use your hotel’s day spa
- Showcase all of your amenities
- Where the best nightlife can be found
- Places for fitness & health
2) What do your guests want?
Do your guests tend to stay around the hotel? Then you’ll want to include hotel amenities, menus, quick access to staff and calls to action to encourage them to explore the hotel.
Maybe your guests are always out exploring the area around your property. You’ll want to include directions, hours and contacts for local attractions, dinning and shopping. Possibly even create various itineraries for different types of guests. Check out the graph below provided by Travelport on what travelers want.
- High-end dining & reservations
- Where they can rent temporary event/office space
- Places to fax or get papers copied
- Limo/town car rentals & drivers
- Places for language translation
- Where they can find office supplies
- Shopping & places to relax
- Local beaches, lakes, etc.
- Social networking
- Places to rent recreations equipment
- Discount vouchers or coupons
Family Friendly Hotels
- Easy access to local attraction tickets
- Family friendly restaurants
- Access to convenient transportation
- Where to find grocery stores
- Tour guides or tour businesses
It’s important to define these personas to ensure your content resonates with guests. Maybe your property has a combination of these guests? A great example of a hotel ensuring they cover every type of traveler is Courtyard Marriott Pasadena.
3) How will your app reach your guests?
Now that you have a better idea of what you want, before you launch your new app it is important to decide how you will market this to your guests.
Just because you built it doesn’t mean they will come! That is why the first two steps are just as crucial as this one, you not only need great content tailored for your guests, you need to be sure they are actually downloading your app.
The answer is probably a combination of a few things.
- A banner on your website homepage
- Regular Facebook, Twitter posts with the link
- An email blast
- Your email signature
- Guest confirmation/welcome emails
- Room keycard insert
- In-room tent card
- Lobby poster
- Have your staff recommend the app when guests check-in
03 Mar 2014
Most hotel apps cover the basics these days: a browsable database of the brand’s properties, a reservations booking system, a way to watch your loyalty-program points. But these apps stand out for the creative extras they offer.
Thanks to GPS technology, this app recognizes when you’ve arrived at a Ritz-Carlton property and sends location-specific advice and special offers. You’ll also have QR capability at 20 hotels that lets you scan your smartphone to check in. Once you’re settled, the app provides personal tips from President & COO Herve Humler (he recommends checking out the Viennese crystal chandelier in Doha or the secret garden at the Sanya Beach Resort).
The cool factor: No matter which Conrad you’ve booked, you can customize your stay before and during your trip. Choose from three lines of bath amenities, pre-order room service, request a wake-up call, order your car to be pulled around from the valet, or specify a pillow preference.
St. Regis New York E-Butler
The St. Regis in New York is held a longtime place on our Gold List, earning high marks for service and location. To make the most out of both, this app lets you chat with a St. Regis butler in real time, anytime, to help arrange outings and activities. And if you don’t feel like dealing with a live person, just browse through shopping, dining, and sightseeing recommendations from local VIPs like Vogue’s André Leon Talley or fashion designer Jason Wu.
InterContinental Concierge Insider Guides
IHG’s Concierge Insider Guides app makes the most of its iPad platform: You don’t just get basic recommendations on what to do, you get video tours hosted by local concierges and interactive maps.
It’s hardly surprising that a sleek hotel brand like SLS has a sleek hotel app. Whether you’re staying at the Beverly Hill location or the South Beach spot (which just made our 2013 Hot List), you can search the app for itineraries, food reviews, and other tips, along with in-house requests for housekeeping, wake-up calls, etc.
As you’d expect from the “Whatever, Whenever” brand, the W hotels app lets you order anything you need to your room (room service, towels, snacks, etc.). Two cool features: a special offers tab, and streaming music mixes curated by the brand’s global music director.
SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Customer Service is available 24/7 at several hotels, but the SPG app allows you to FaceTime with the SPG support team at any hour for assistance. You can also store your hotel room number in the app just in case you forget it, and the in-language addresses come in handy for traveling abroad.
The MyViceroy app will guide you through anything you need to know while on the island. It can reserve a taxi, calculate currency exchanges, even sign you up for personal training and reserve babysitting services. And if you happen to lose yourself a little too literally on the Viceroy’s 35-acre Gold List property, the app has a property map to help you find your way.
Mobile commerce continues to grow at a fast pace. According to eMarketer, mobile commerce or mCommerce constitutes $41.68 billion of the total $262.3 billion of ecommerce sales for 2013 or an increase of 68.2% from 2012 and accounts for 16% of total ecommerce sales. One-in-six dollars purchased on a mobile device is fantastic. But, there is still a long way to go, especially when you realize that ecommerce comprises less than 10% of total retail sales. But the good news is ecommerce is growing five times faster than traditional retail channels and mobile commerce is growing three times as fast as ecommerce as a whole.
Mobile commerce in the travel industry
It’s hard to find anyone in the travel sector who isn’t touting their mobile bookings growth.
According to a recent PhoCusWright report, U.S. Online Travel Overview Thirteenth Edition, mobile travel bookings will more than triple over the next two years, to reach $39.5 billion by 2015, this is about 25% of total online travel market.
As the cool kids say: “slow your roll, playa”.
I’m not saying that mobile bookings aren’t growing rapidly, but don’t let high growth percentages color your judgment too much. The law of large numbers still applies.
First of all, let us look at PhoCusWright’s own research. Only six months before their latest prediction, they predicted that mobile bookings were going to triple (the same number! Magic!) from 2012 to 2014. But the delta from 2014 to 2015 is “only” 50% (from $26 billion to $39 billion). It is still a fantastic growth, but much less heady than 300%.
Nearly 100 million Chinese tourists visited foreign countries last year, and they are likely to extend their lead as the world’s biggest-spending travellers, state media reported Thursday.
Chinese travellers spent $114 billion overseas in 2012, making them the world’s biggest spenders ahead of Germans and US tourists.
Hotels and retailers around the world have stepped up efforts to woo Chinese visitors.
Hotel and restaurant apps, powered by Blynk, support all international languages. Have your app content in Chinese and make it easier for your guests to request your services.
Apple has already revolutionized how we use technology in our daily lives. And there is no doubt that Apple’s iPad has the same potential to revolutionize the dining and hospitality industry. Here’s a list of ten that are laying the foundation for a new generation of hotels and restaurants outfitting their traditional services with the iPad. These early-adopter pioneers can potentially get a valuable lead in the industry’s competitive landscape.
1. iPads are replacing menus in the upscale Sydney restaurant, Mundo Global Tapas. Customers use the restaurant’s iPads to browse menu selections, order food, and view photos of every dish – even notify chefs of how they want their steaks cooked.
2. London’s Berkeley Hotel plans to offer hotel guests iPads for the duration of their stay. It comes with selected apps that help craft the travelers experience in the area – like suggesting the top-five places to visit, restaurant and location recommendations and a list of local hidden gems. The device becomes a travel guide for customers by helping map out their itinerary to provide a better traveling experience.
3. Intercontinental Hotels Group, plans to equip concierges with iPads. Results of their internal studies show that concierges with an iPad are more resourceful to fulfill services for hotel guests and are able to roam around the lobby to assist their customers, creating a less static method of customer service than being behind a desk. The company also discovered that by supplying iPads to concierges, it greatly reduces the time of training for new employees.
4. San Diego’s Hotel Indigo is incorporating the iPad to help boost social media presence. Visitors can ask questions about the local area to the hotel’s Twitter followers and are encouraged to connect and log comments on the hotel’s other social media pages. The hotel will have a live feed of their Twitter and Facebook pages streaming on a large display in their lobby, albeit under hotel staff supervision. Although the hotel’s concierges are present to assist guests, it harnesses its social media pages to create a network of online followers to make area-related recommendations.
5. Naples Tomato restaurant of Naples Florida recently announced their plans to utilize an iPad to recommend wine for customers instead of a sommelier. By accessing an app, wine connoisseurs can browse through the Mediterranean restaurant’s 550 Wine Spectator-recognized wine list.
6. Manhattan healthy fast food restaurant, 4food, plans to equip their waiters with iPads for assisting the ordering process. the restaurant’s progressive goal is to innovate the food-Ordering Process. Interestingly, the interior of the yet to be opened restaurant will also loosely imitate the aesthetics of an Apple store.
7. RezBook is a free iPad app that allows iPad users to view table layouts and make reservations. The plan is to integrate the app’s services with the traditional paper reservation process to expand the outlets for connecting with customers. The app also allows its users to indicate allergy information and propose seating preferences.
8. To enhance the customer experience, New York’s The Plaza, will be giving their customers an Ipad to be used as a Control Panel For Hotel Preferences such as requesting room service, scheduling wake-up calls, making spa appointments and printing boarding passes.
9. The OrderTalk iPad app makes the process of taking customers orders more efficient, bringing quicker service to full service restaurants. These hand-held terminals allow restaurant employees to collect order info and relay it to the ticket printer in the kitchen. Or allow customers at participating restaurants to order food from their personal or restaurant-provided iPads.
10. Luxe hotel, The Danai Beach Resort, on Greece’s Aegean Peninsula, offers guests iPads for the duration of their stay, even allowing guests to use them poolside and beachside. Regardless of whether it’s splash-proof or not, reading online magazines the iPad while sunbathing and sipping cocktails does evoke a sense of luxury.
Mobile users aren’t just playing Angry Birds or checking the local weather, 38% have used their mobile devices to plan a trip and 60% of respondents said they have downloaded travel apps on their mobile devices, according to a TripAdvisor survey.
While travelling, 62% of travelers said they use their mobile devices to research restaurants. 51% check their flight status and 46% research attraction, 28% have checked in to a restaurant, hotel or attraction using their mobile device while on a trip, according to TripAdvisor. (travelmole, May 2011). A research conducted by PhoCusWright shows that 75% of frequent business travelers (those making at least five trips a year) are smartphone owners. About half of frequent leisure travelers have smartphones.
There’s more than enough evidence for the hospitality industry to use mobile apps, and some hotels have already started and are successfully doing it.
The first step for hotels is to have a mobile website where clients could easily access all information about your hotel, the second step is having a mobile app that offers a better opportunity to create a close connection with your guests. Price for mobile app development has decreased lately and apps are available now also for small-independent hotels, not only for hotel chains and luxury hotels.
It’s not enough to only create a mobile app, in order to be successful it should also be included in the marketing mix. The app should be promoted on hotel’s website, in booking confirmation emails, in the correspondence with your guests and on other marketing materials.
Having a mobile app also sends a message that the hotel is up to date with the latest trends and implies that the rest of your services are high quality.
Hotels can use incentives to encourage people to download their app, such as discounts for products or services, special offers etc. Don’t be shy and try to push the app to as many users as possible, remember the mobile app can be the beginning of a close relationship with your guests. Include app download information on hotel brochures, key cards, on napkins, as part of the in-room entertainment system and on any place that is very visible.
27 Jan 2014
Everyday we get news that one more hotel has started keeping tablets in rooms.
Today, it’s the InterContinental Los Angeles. As per this article in HotelChatter, they keep in every room, besides other first aid things, two Tylenol, two decongestants, 2 antacid relief tablets :)
Yes tablets can be these as well!
27 Jan 2014
All major hotel groups worldwide are now focusing on mobile strategies in order to enhance the guest experience, offering fully customizable mobile apps that make all types of digital transactions simple for hotel guests —before, during and after their stays. As guests’ mobile apps are changing the way travelers interact with hotel staff and vice versa, staff mobile apps are also changing the way owners, managers, franchises and hotels groups are operating their properties. Mobile technologies have the unique potential to streamline hotel operations on the backend, and digital solutions for staff allow instant communication for enhanced employee efficiency and accountability.
Self-service is superior service
Technology vendors are raising the bar
Catering to the instant gratification generation
Greater staff efficiency through mobile technology
Mobile apps are branding gold
Mobile upselling and enhanced loyalty
Almost nothing stays the same forever. In the hotel business, you have to change if you want to keep up with the competition. In 2013, preferences of travelers may be different over whether it is better to have an Apple or an Android digital device. But, on one point, there is no argument at all. Travelers, all across the world, and right here in the United States, have become increasingly dependent on their mobile digital devices.
According to a combined study recently completed by travel marketing, research and consulting groups MMGY Global and the Harrison Group, the next generation of travelers has arrived. Results of the national survey entitled 2013 Portrait of Digital Travelers were released in August of 2013.
Key findings of the survey
1. Smartphone usage for planning and purchasing travel services has more than doubled from 23 percent in 2011, to 62 percent in 2013. That is a fractional increase of roughly 270 percent in just 2 years.
2. Tablet usage for planning and purchasing travel services has gone up six-fold from 2011 to 2013. In 2011, only 7 percent of households were using tablets for travel, while in 2013, the number surged to 42 percent.
3. Over 50 percent of the Digital Elite have children in their household, compared to only 37 percent of those who rely on more traditional methods to plan and book travel. This reflects that younger people tend to be more digitally connected, and even children of 10 or 12 years of age, get actively involved, through the internet, to help plan a family vacation.
4. Digital Elite travelers spend and do more than their not-so-well connected brethren of travelers in 2012.
• Total leisure trips: 4.1 vs. 3.8
• Weekend trips: 2.1 vs. 1.8
• Last-minute trips: 31 percent vs. 22 percent
• Spending: $4,988 vs. $3,812
16 Jan 2014
Highlights from the article by Jon Inge.
The expanding role of mobile technology continued to be a hot theme all year. Most chains and several independent properties launched or improved their own guest-facing apps for booking and loyalty program management, and many vendors added to the range of useful apps for hotel management and staff.
Blynk launched tablet-based E-Menu apps for restaurants, bars, cafes and lounges.
As usual, many vendors landed significant multi-property orders from clients looking to standardize their operations as much as possible. These included (in alphabetical order):
Blynk: The Park Group (12 properties in India)