So you have a shiny new app for your hotel – complete with a full slew of features to help your hotel generate more revenue and provide value for your guests… now what?
Having a branded hotel app is great – but not if no one knows about it.
Promoting your hotel’s mobile app is essential for adoption and usage. Your hotel needs to not only communicate that you have a mobile app available but also clearly convey the benefits of actually downloading and using the app. For the majority of users, apps have lost their novelty. Gone are the days of people downloading the coolest mobile app just to see what it does. Rather, people are conscious of space and more concerned with clutter. If your mobile app does not provide value it simply will not make the cut in the Hunger Games of downloads.
How can your hotel effectively promote a mobile app?
We’ve got the answer.
1.) Make Sure The App Can Be Found
The first step to take before you even begin to promote your hotel’s mobile app is to ensure it can actually be found. Visit both the Apple and Android app stores and search for your app. Does it show up in the list? If not, you might have an issue. Once you successfully locate your app, check the app’s page on the app store to ensure all of the information is correct.
While ensuring your app is findable and verifying your information is correct covers the basics, there are many other things you can do to optimize your mobile app presence, which include proper naming and keyword research, increasing the total number of downloads, and increasing the overall number and quality of your app reviews.
App store optimization can get complicated, but using common sense can go a long way. Name your app according to what users might search for – in this case, the name of your property. Furthermore, incorporate relevant keywords into your copy to increase the relevancy to searchers. Be sure to also clearly and concisely communicate the features, functionality, and benefits of your app. Finally, once users have downloaded your app, be sure to solicit reviews to further help boost your app store performance and to collect general feedback about your app – you can use this info later to make your app even more kickass.
2.) Promote The App Via Your Hotel’s Website
There is a fine line to balance between prominently promoting your hotel’s mobile app and distracting users from the booking process, or worse, annoying the crap out of them during the research and consideration phase by bombarding them with irrelevant information.
There are several ways to communicate your hotel’s awesome mobile app without getting in the way of what users are really there to do – whether it be to research your property or to complete a booking.
- Tactful Promo Panels – Tactful being the key word here. Many current hotel designs prominently feature a scrolling carousel or even lower level promo boxes. The homepage can be a great place to display your mobile app, but do so with careful consideration to your design. Depending on how aggressive you are trying to be, having a giant promo panel promoting your mobile app wouldn’t be the best thing to display as your first image. However, having a promotion 3-4 slides in or on a static lower-level promo box would be a gentle nudge to convey your message.
- Dedicated App Landing Page – A dedicated mobile app landing page will serve multiple purposes in your mobile app promotion strategy. First of all, this page could be a great way to thoroughly “sell” your app. You can’t convey every selling point or perk of your app via a simple promo box, so giving interested users a consideration page can be incredibly handy from a conversion standpoint. Secondly, you can direct traffic from multiple sources to this landing page, like email traffic or ppc traffic (thought you might also prefer to drive that traffic directly to download the app). Finally, this page could potentially rank for key search queries related to your hotel and/or the mobile app. Though putting a ton of effort behind this page is neither required nor really necessary, taking care of the basics could bump OTAs or other related sites that might rank for related queries. To make the page easily accessible, consider linking to it from relevant promo panels and boxes, strategically throughout the site via other pages, and perhaps even the main navigation.
- Mobile App Specific Popup – Despite the initial “cringe” that marketers often feel towards website popups, the data speaks for itself. However, there is a big difference between a generic, blanketed popup approach and a well thought out, strategic approach. Many hotels would understandably never want to sacrifice email sign ups that are often acquired via a first-time visitor popup. However, there are several other non-intrusive ways to incorporate a mobile app specific popup that your visitors might actually appreciate, like a repeat visitor popup, a popup that appears after the visitor reaches a specific page on the website or a popup that triggers after the user has been on the website for a specified amount of time. Get creative with your popups and test several variations to find the mobile app download sweet spot.
- PS – Don’t forget that Google doesn’t like “intrusive” popups via mobile! Be sure to use an approved mobile popup design to avoid unnecessary mobile rank penalties.
3.) Promote The App Via Email
A well developed and implemented email marketing strategy presents several potential relevant touch-points to promote your hotel’s mobile app.
- Email Newsletter – Whether you are just launching your app or want to provide a friendly reminder of its existence, an email newsletter can be the perfect place to highlight your shiny new tool.
- Confirmation – The moment after a guest books their stay is the perfect time to let them know about your app. They have already made the smart decision to stay at your hotel, help them make the second smart decision of the day to download your mobile app.
- Pre-Arrival – Your guest’s trip is right around the corner, now is the time to really push the mobile app download. Touting useful features like “express check-in” could be the incentive guests need to pull the trigger.
- Post-Stay – The post-stay email is the perfect time to generate feedback and reviews on your mobile app. This will not only boost your app’s performance in the app store but also serve as valuable feedback to help improve your app and make it as useful as possible. Of course, the key to effectively soliciting feedback would be to only target guests who actually did download and use the app during their stay.
4.) Promote The App On-Property
Though it is quite possible, though ideally very unlikely, that a guest might miss messaging pertaining to your mobile app on the website or via email, there is absolutely no reason for a guest to visit your property and not be aware of your mobile app.
- On-Property Signage – Your hotel property presents plenty of opportunities to creatively display signage to promote your mobile app. This could include popup banners in your lobby, table tents for the check-in desk or throughout the common areas and restaurants, and in-room pamphlets. The opportunities are endless and easy to incorporate throughout the property.
- Check-In Communication – The front desk, an oft neglected touch-point, is the face of your hotel. This is the first point of in-person communication a guest has with your property and it needs to make a strong impression. Your front desk staff needs to be fully educated on your property, maintain a friendly and professional composure, and have the desire to actually help people. The check-in process, in general, should be as pain-free as possible, and throwing in a pushy promotion is not the key to winning over guests. However, mentioning the presence and benefits of the mobile app at the right moment can definitely not only persuade guests to download the mobile app but actually educate them on the benefits of using it during their stay. Train your staff to suggestively “sell” the app via the most useful features, like express check-out and notifications about deals and discounts during the stay.
- Promotional Events – This concept would not necessarily work for every hotel property, but for the ones it would apply to – it really works. Consider a family-friendly hotel in a repeat destination. The property likely already hosts on-site entertainment for guests throughout the week, why not incorporate special giveaways for guests? For example, your hotel has a DJ every Wednesday on the pool deck from 1 pm – 4 pm. Why not have the DJ promote the app throughout the afternoon and then host a giveaway via a mobile app notification for a few guests who download the app? Better yet, have a staff member patrol the property and offer a cheap incentive, like a koozie or a $5 coupon to the on-site restaurant, for guests that download? These are simple, cost effective ways to have a little fun, engage guests, and ultimately drive more app downloads.
5.) Paid App Promotions
Hotels looking to aggressively promote their mobile app have several options when it comes to paid advertisements.
Mobile App Download Specific Ads
Both Facebook and Google offer ads specifically designed to drive more mobile app downloads. These ads are only served to users on a mobile device, linking them directly to your app’s page on the app store. These ads do require a bit of set-up, so be sure to have a knowledgeable, tech-savvy person or agency on hand to implement. Learn more about AdWords Mobile App Install Ads or Facebook Mobile App Install Ads.
Mobile App Engagement Ads
Though this type of ad would not be the first place to start, it can help improve app usage and user engagement over time. More information on mobile app engagement ads.
App Store Ads
Search Engine PPC Ads
Aside from the app download specific ads mentioned above, platforms like AdWords and Bing Ads present multiple opportunities to mention your mobile app.
- In-Ad Communication: Mention your mobile app in your ad headline or in the body of your ad text. Prominently communicating your mobile app in your ad is a great way to drive awareness and put the app front and center.
Ex Headline: Discover Seaside Cove – Book Via Mobile App & Save!
Ex Ad Copy: Seaside Cove Offers Amazing Resort Amenities & Destin’s Only Hotel Mobile App. Learn More!
- Ad Extensions: Ad extensions are the perfect place to mention your mobile app without sacrificing space in your ad headline or main copy. Options include callout extensions, sitelink extensions, and even review extensions.
- Display Ads: If awareness if a primary KPI, consider running a display campaign with enticing creative to spread the word about your awesome new app.
- Remarketing Ads: Remarketing ads are available through search ads or through the Google Display Networks. Remarketing offers a great way to reach a potential guest that is already familiar with your property.
- YouTube Video Ads: YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and there are plenty of ways to reach potential guests via YouTube Ads.
By implementing even a few of our above recommendations, your hotel can generate awareness about your mobile app, drive more downloads, increase app engagement, and eventually drive more incremental revenue over time.
Want to know more?
Contact us today for a free demo and mobile app consultation!
Does My Hotel Need A Mobile App? – Podcast