In my conversations with hoteliers, I often hear that having an own hotel app does not make sense to them. They had tried it ages ago, but the success was merely moderate. One would watch the market, but the apps of the Online Travel Agencies (OTA) are too overpowering.
I agree with these hotels, if we only summarise the isolated process of „Searching and Booking“ in a hotel app, then the OTAs have a huge advantage. They provide the hotel guest alternatives to your hotel as an added value. Your competitors may even have „purchased“ a better ranking through higher commission payments. Of course, you could do the same, but it does not really help your profitability. There will always be someone who will go beyond their pain threshold in terms of distribution costs.
A hotel app becomes the guest app
Plan your digital strategy in its entirety and include the whole „travellers‘ journey“. That way you make a hotel app a guest app! Where online booking portals stop digitalising – at check-in – you have the opportunities to create additional value for your own app. There are dozens of touch points during the stay that can be digitalised to improve the guests experience. Hilton‘s CMO Geraldine Calpin, for example, calls the personalization of the hotel room through digitalisation „the next big thing“. A positive side effect is that you as a hotel now have access to data that has so far only accelerated the growth of your accommodation broker.
Native or web app?
Hotels that are currently evaluating an app, always wonder whether to choose a native or web-based hotel app. Depending on the provider of such a solution, the answers vary. The most important statements are: „the restraint to download a native app is much higher“ and „a web app cannot represent all functions“.
For some scopes a web-app is sufficient. However, if you want to offer functionality that uses hardware capabilites of your smartphone now or in the future, these must be available natively. Among others these can be: camera to take a picture of a QR code, gyroscope for more accurate inhouse navigation or wake-up from sleep mode for certain actions. I will not go into the possibilities of hybrid or cross platforms at this point, because of the lack of relevance.
Guest app! Because the guest is in focus
Your app has the best chance of success if you create a guest app with added value that puts the guest in the center of attention. You can get there by the digitising of services and processes. The knowledge you gain from this enables you to further personalise and individualise your offer and bind your guests even closer to your house. This way you accomplish an individual distinction of your guest app which ideally generates more direct bookings.
Sincerely, Frank Gerhardt (CEO, VINN GmbH)
#VINNdigitizes Part 1: Hotel industry without digital strategy – quo vadis?