There’s much debate in the industry about the value of a branded mobile app for hotels. I must admit, that I was once a sceptic. I was firmly of the opinion that a mobile website was all that a hotel needed. I can categorically tell you that I was wrong.
If you know me, then you know that I love learning new things about human behavior by studying data, And, ladies and gentlemen, the data is in and it tells a very compelling story about whether or not guests want or need a mobile app. It also tells a story of how a hotel can not only increase the guest’s satisfaction, but also, how a branded mobile app for your hotel can drive a lot of new revenue.
Guest Express was launched in Beta about a year ago. We honestly didn’t know how well it would take off. Would people download it? If the did, would they use it? The answer to both of those questions is a resounding. ‘Yes’!
The first property to test Guest Express was a 300 unit independent property in Myrtle Beach, SC. We figured that it would get about 50 downloads per week. Boy, were we wrong. In the off-season, it has been averaging over 300 downloads per week. and that’s steadily increasing as we get closer to peak-season. In addition, the folks that downloaded it, 50% of them are using the mobile check-in feature. But that’s not all. On average, guests are opening and using the app 9.5 times during their stay. We see similar behavior across the dozens of properties that are using Guest Express.
Hopefully, I’ve helped you realize that there is a lot of potential value in having a branded mobile app. If so, here are some of the must have features that you should consider implementing:
1. Mobile Check-in
If your hotel mobile app doesn’t give your guests the convenience of mobile check-in, then you may as well not bother. In our 2016 consumer insights survey, 65% of travelers indicated that they would use an independent hotel’s mobile app for mobile check-in. Not only is it convenient for your guest checking in, but it also cuts down on the long lines for other guests as well. On top of that, it can streamline your operations and give your staff more time to really take care of your guests.
2. Room Upgrades
Let’s face it, in the mind of the guest, they have already spent the money on their room. They are excited about their vacation and they want it to be the best experience possible. This is when the opportunity presents itself for you to offer the guest an upgraded room for a nominal fee. Going from an ocean view room to an ocean front suite may only cost them an extra $30 per night, but it means an increase in ADR for you and brings lower tiered inventory, which is easier to sell, back on the market. It’s win-win. This functionality is included out-of-the-box with Guest Express.
3. Additional Services
Either before or during the stay, you can tempt your guests with the prospect of some lovely add-ons. Whether it’s champagne and chocolates in the room for a romantic getaway, or tickets to that must-see show that just arrived in town, guests are always happy to hand over their hard-earned money in exchange for a better experience. Guest Express, can pull your additional services and pricing directly from your PMS, or it can integrate with your current booking engine if that functionality already exists there.
4. Area Information
Your app needs to be a useful resource for your guest when they are out and about in your city. Having a comprehensive area guide, including restaurants, attractions and shopping. is not only helpful, but can also be a way for you to make new partnerships, or even generate new revenue streams from local businesses. For example, you could charge a restaurant to be ‘featured’ in your app, or you could simply offer discount coupons. Guest Express mobile app makes it simple to build out a full-featured area information section within your app by automatically pulling in area businesses, their contact information and their online review rankings.
5. Real-Time Content Updates
One of the big potential drawbacks of an installed app is that a guest may have to download a new version from the app store in order to gain access to the latest feature or content. However, if you use a white-labeled app such as Guest Express, this is no longer a concern. If you have a new deal, or new information you want to push out, or if you need to update your menu or your restaurant’s opening hours, you can make the change in real-tine through a state-of-the-art content management system and your guests will see the updates the next time they open their app.
6. Extended Stay Offers
How often do you talk to someone who just came back from vacation and hear them tell you that they wish they could have stayed longer? There are a good number of guests who would consider the prospect of extending their stay by a few hours or a few days if only they knew that it was an option. Guest Express can monitor your available inventory in your PMS and determine whether or not a room will be available. If so, an automatic push notification can be sent to the guest informing them of the opportunity and they can purchase it right there and then. This is great for increasing ADR and filling up unused inventory.
7. Automated Satisfaction Messaging
This is one of the most powerful features that Guest Express provides. It’s almost a full-proof way of heading off negative online reviews. Soliciting guest feedback throughout their stay can help you better understand their needs and their sentiment. It can be as simple as sending them an automated push notification thirty minutes after check-in that asks them if their room meets their expectations and providing them a channel of communication if it doesn’t. Alternatively, you could also send out quick 1-2 question surveys during or right after the stay.
8. Alerts & Notifications
Having an easy way to target specific individuals or groups of on-property guests with a custom alert is a powerful opportunity that Guest Express can provide. Any data that the PMS can collect on a guest folio can be used to segment and target a specific audience. For example, all the people on a certain floor or building may be notified of an evacuation order. Or, anyone who is traveling with kids can be informed of the kids-club event that starts at noon. Better yet, you can turn these notifications into revenue by driving people to your bar’s happy hour, or by offering a free appetizer in your restaurant to anyone who shows up during a traditionally slow period.
9. Guest Initiated Communication
Giving your guest a direct channel of communication to your staff is one of the best ways to ensure that guests feel welcome and wanted at your property. You never know what requests they may have, but offering the choice of communicating via phone, SMS, or messenger make a strong statement about how seriously you take your guest’s satisfaction.
10. Mobile lock Integration
The ability to bypass the lobby and go straight to your room is an attractive proposition for an increasing number of travelers. While in the case of leisure traveler, it’s certainly not the majority, there’s a lot of data that suggests the importance for the business guest. The prospect of upgrading your locks to be compatible with mobile phone entry can be daunting, but think of the long-term cost savings that will occur from the dramatic reduction in the number of unreturned keycards.
So, there you have it. These are some of the most important features that your mobile app should offer your guest. If you’re interested in learning more about the effectiveness and adoption rates for these features and many more, please reach out to us and request a demo.