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The 5 Best Ways to Improve Engagement within Your Hotel App

By Terri Miller, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

Mobile technology represents many things. For some of us, it's a daily tool to increase efficiency and convenience. For others, it's a go-to source for social connection and outlets. For many, it's the device(s) which help us to do our job. However, more than anything, the primary mission of mobile technology is to make our lives easier — a consumer demand that becomes especially true when we consider travel-related apps and technology. 

Let's face it, whether traveling for business or for leisure, the process of getting from point A to point B can be rather taxing. Booking flights and hotel reservations, getting a sense of local attractions, ensuring you have access to business-related or family-friendly amenities; each pillar of the travel planning (and execution) process can bear its own challenges. However, with the use of mobile technology and apps, prospective travelers can finally expect a more seamless, hassle-free and personalized experience. And considering the digital nature of today's economy, consumers are no longer just demonstrating a preference for a mobile experience — they are demanding it. 

Mobile Apps are Today's Table Stakes

Unsure if a well-designed website can take the place of a dedicated app? According to reports, conversion rates on apps are five times higher than mobile. Travel companies that have a booking app reported 60% of transactions via mobile, up from 41% just one year ago. Still not convinced? Reportsalso show that mobile bookings in the travel industry have grown by 1700% between 2011 and 2015 (increasing online revenues from 1% to 18%), and an estimated 31% of consumers will search their next trip from a smartphone.

With that said, however, a mobile app can only be useful if it truly engages the guest and inspires them to continuously interact with that platform in a way that enhances their on and off-property experience. So, the question becomes, what do travelers want from hotel apps, and how can hoteliers increase app engagement?

Hotel Apps = An Experience Management Tool
When it comes to app engagement, convenience is paramount. Travelers are looking for a one-stop-shop for their pre-stay, on-property, and post-stay needs; including (but not limited to) check-in/out, local information, booking information, keyless entry, concierge access, housekeeping, in-room controls and so much more.

No one wants to have ten different travel apps—particularly for a single stay— installed on his or her phone. The modern guest demands an app which helps to seamlessly centralize the entire guest journey, from start to finish. Access to instant, one-click booking and shopping, stored payment information, chat-based assistance and a collective, digital dashboard of all hotel information can go a long way in enhancing the guest experience, boosting revenue and keep them coming back.

The Guest Knows Best

Much of the appeal of mobile technology can be attributed to its customer-centric offerings, as the modern traveler craves personalization and unique experiences within every touchpoint of their stay. Guests want to feel your investment in them as a prospective or returning traveler, in order to continuously invest in your property as their accommodation of choice.

With this in mind, apps should not only offer check-in/out capabilities but should also house a personal account for each guest. Not only does this enhance convenience and opportunity for personalization in-app, but it provides hoteliers with a means to gather more information about each guest, which ties to purchase behaviors and preferences.

After all, the better you understand guest behaviors and expectations, the better your staff can predict guest needs and inspire long-term loyalty. This also provides an opportunity for the connection of social media accounts, which speeds up each guests' registration time while also providing access to their social profiles for increased online engagement with each traveler.

An Enhanced Communication Portal

While there will always be a need for in-person customer service and communication (hospitality is all about creating a unique and comfortable travel experience, after all), many travelers actually prefer chatting with hotel staff via a mobile device. With access to a mobile concierge, guests are guaranteed 24/7 support and a more responsive on-property, guest-service experience. This is also an opportunity for hoteliers to utilize push notifications with personalized messaging and exclusive offers that are more likely to resonate with each individual guest.

Hotels can also offer guests access to location-based information and suggestions, with the help of a geolocation feature. After all, 85% of travelers book activities while on vacation via an app. Much like having a local travel agent in their pocket, guests can receive tailored suggestions for entertainment, amenities, local attractions, dining and more all within their hotel's mobile app, at any time. By curating those suggestions, you can also direct guests to the best possible experiences. A stay is composed of many memories, including those that happen off property.

Custom App = Custom Features

While there is no shortage of turnkey, mobile app solutions available to hoteliers (which certainly have their place), those hotels in search of a more robust mobile app build can invest in the creation of a native app. The advantage? Creating a custom app from scratch awards your hotel complete control over the design, aesthetic, functionality and features.

Providing unique features (that other hotel apps might not have) is an easy way to ensure your app inspires guest engagement — such as offline access, price change/deal push notifications for relevant offers, social media incentives/custom loyalty rewards and so much more.

Re-Engagement Opportunities

The best thing about push notifications and personalized messaging portals within an app? Hoteliers can re-engage guests in a more effective manner, through means of customized marketing campaigns, exclusive offers, and loyalty program incentives. With access to user data within the app, hoteliers can not only determine which features of their app that guests are most interested in, but they can adjust their marketing approach as they learn more about each guest.

Further, an in-house app presents the opportunity to create an accessible forum for feedback and testimonials. This not only shows each guest that a hotel genuinely cares to hear about each guests' experience on-property and with their staff but allows hoteliers to get a better sense of where they can improve, and where they are exemplary.

Mobile phones are cited to be a traveler's most important travel accessory. As a result, it's no surprise that the demands placed on a mobile app offering are becoming more robust and advanced in nature. Luckily, curating a responsive and engaging mobile experience is entirely within reach.

So, what do you say? Is your hotel ready?

About the Author:

The capability to understand today’s hotel guest is a priority for Concilio Labs. Terri Miller and her team developed a way to leverage hotel and public data to help hoteliers provide exceptional relevant experiences to its guests. As CEO of Concilio Labs, Terri is responsible for driving the strategic and tactical growth of the company, while ensuring innovation is at the forefront when delivering solutions hoteliers truly need. Her wealth of experience in business, management, and technology guides all facets of the company’s success. Prior to Concilio Labs, Terri was the Vice President of MICROS eCommerce leading the creative, delivery, and technical departments. With a passion for delivering results, Terri continues to grow Concilio Labs with a focus on becoming the leader in developing and delivering smart hotel products and services.