The mobile phone has changed the way consumers think, act and purchase. With the advancements in the last decade, human interaction is depleting and millennials prefer it that way. Along with this evolving state of human interaction, the hospitality industry has made great strides to keep up with it.
The best way to keep up with this trend is to create an app. After all, 68% of revenue generating traffic originates on a mobile device. A powerful app can help cut third party booking sites out. The push for direct booking has developed significantly in the last few months from the biggest hotel brands, including Hilton and Marriott. Says Marriott Executive VP & Global Chief Development Officer Tony Capuano, “We just want to have a reasonable seat at the table.” The big brands previously paid Expedia 18-24% commissions while that range has decreased to 10-15%. Apps attribute to the push to book directly, with Expedia and Booking.com no longer having the lowest room rates available.
The basics of hotel apps allow check in before arrival, access to room service and housekeeping, and checkout on mobile devices. Apps like the Hilton Honors app and Marriott Mobile app are enhancing the guest experience by introducing innovative features. Hilton, in particular, is working on mobile keys so guests can avoid front desk interactions altogether, allowing guests to choose their rooms (and upgrade their rooms), order things like food and extra pillows to be in room upon arrival, and requesting Uber rides through the app while getting recommendations about “trending hotspots.” These new features allow the guest easy time-saving options and ultimately an upgraded hotel stay.
Updates in hotel PMS systems like this one from StayNTouch has also increased efficiency and revenue. Fontainebleau Miami, for example, saw a 141% ROI from late checkout offers made available through the system in the first 30 days.
One of the most developed hotel apps is known as Lucy by Virgin Hotels. Lucy can book guests’ stay, check guests in upon arrival, keep guests in contact with valet, offer local recommendations for food and activities, and even control the thermostat in the room. Lucy also keeps guests in the know with happenings and news around the area. Lucy was cited as the best in staff when Virgin won the Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice Award Best Hotel in Chicago, which indicates high CSAT levels with the mobile app. As Virgin Hotels continues to expand there are high expectations for its tech abilities.
The right choice in the digital age is to build and maintain an app that increases revenue and customer satisfaction, and keeps your hotel ahead of the rest.