Many hotels now have a mobile booking engine, but only a few provide for a mobile experience beyond reservations. When Google’s Eric Schmidt tells the world “Mobile First” than it is probably time for others to do the same. Taking mobile beyond just the reservation also provides for improved customer services and staff efficiency. Here are five points hotels should think about when implementing a mobile strategy;
First, make sure your apps support all devices, while iOS (iPhone) and Android will carry you far, there are some other platforms. Microsoft just released their new Surface (Microsofts version of the iPad) and will shortly release Windows 8, which will have promising support for mobile devices. Than the question pops: Should the apps be native or web based? In other words, should your vendor build the app using the platforms native app language or should they build it for a browser using HTML5 allowing just one app to be compatible with most devices. While using HTML5 has a cost advantage, I think the user experience provide from a native app is far more superior and engaging, and therefore a better strategy.
The most successful apps are easy to use, do not require any real thinking, they look awesome and provide for a great user experience. Think about the apps you constantly go back to on your mobile device, it is those type of apps you want to have as part of your mobile hotel strategy. Once the guest has used it a first time, they will want to go back to it, play with it, and use its other functions. If build well, guests may like it so much, they will want to come back, just to enjoy your mobile experience again.
Next have some marketing strategies in place to make your guests aware of your mobile apps. Prior to arrival notify your guest where the app can be downloaded, have your staff mention the app at check in, or put a simple announcement with a QR code in each room. Ideally you will want to provide some incentives for the guest. If the app is fun, and useful adoption will come quickly.
Lastly, include some form of social staying in the app. Create a virtual lobby where guests and staff can interact with each other. Social is a perfect feature to get your guests hooked to the app. It can also be a great up sell channel, where guests through their engagement will do the up selling for you!
In summary make sure your mobile hotel app is not just a digital brochure, but actually serves a real purpose, and has some features, that will benefit the guest. Spend the time and money to make it easy, awesome and addictive. If you do, your mobile hotel app will serve you well, by increasing loyalty and revenues.