Hoteliers have always focused on the guest experience, but never before has a guest’s experience outside of the hotel room mattered almost as much as their experience within the room.
Guests now rely on peers and online recommendations rather than traditional star ratings to make their booking decisions. Today, 95% of leisure travellers report spending an average of 30 minutes reading reviews prior to booking a hotel and they are quick to say what they think on social media platforms. They expect their hosts to provide them with a holistic experience, not just a great hotel room, and they expect a level of personalisation within their interactions with the hotel pre, during and post stay.
The new normal
You only have to look around to see the importance of mobile and the reliance now placed on that information. Hoteliers need to find a way to get their brand on their guests’ phone. As consumers increasingly move online, the travel industry is naturally progressing towards digital as a way to personalise the guest experience. According to Statista, mobile app downloads are projected to reach 205.4 billion in 20182.
A few years ago, several of the hotel chains invested heavily in loyalty and booking apps to encourage direct bookings. Its well-known they were not widely embraced by guests, with little in it for them. However, the chains are now refining their apps to include messaging, in room ordering and they are now becoming the norm. They will become mainstream as digital key and IOT become prevalent in refurbishments. Fortunately, independent hotels now have access to technology to easily create and maintain a white labelled app within which they can wrap all guest-facing technology.
Real-time and targeted
According to SiteMinder research, hoteliers believe that prioritising guest personalisation and experience will be key in 2018. What’s more, 33% will place the highest focus on mobile technology this year. With that in mind, creating an app will enable hoteliers to enhance the guest experience by providing access to personalised, real-time content.
Ensuring it works on both smartphones and tablets, hoteliers can add content that was not possible with traditional guest directories, including videos – for example, explaining how to work appliances – images, links to social feeds and more. Hoteliers can provide recommendations in the local area, the hotel location using GPS and even the ability to book a table in the restaurant or in-room service while on-the-go.
They can also enhance their engagement with guests, as they can use the app to communicate with staff – such as in room orders and late-check out requests – as well as upsell with tools such as geofencing and push notifications that allow hoteliers to send custom messages, special offers or reminders according to their location.
Apps for all
For independent accommodation providers, this technology is not reserved to big hotel brands and chains. With do-it-yourself tools, creating and maintaining apps no longer has to be costly or complex, as it requires no expertise and the provider owns the content, making it easy to adjust and update. This creates a level playing field in the travel industry and enables all accommodation providers – large and small – to engage with their guests on a personal level and enhance their experience.