The increase in smartphone and tablet use and the push to deliver a mobile experience has led to arguments over mobile web versus branded apps.
The debate boils down to this question: Are customers likely to download and retain an app for one experience, one stay, or one hotel brand?
The answer is probably no. Depending on personality type, most people are likely to either remove the app after their stay, or forget that it’s on their phone or tablet.
But there is value in a branded app for both the hotel and the guest. Hotels are able to remain connected to guests through the entire journey from booking, to requests, and even guest comments and reviews.
Guests can have access to last-minute discounts on hotel amenities, hotel recommended dining and entertainment, and easy contact with various staff members for any need they may have during their stay (on-site or off).
So how do you keep your app from being a one-trick pony, keeping it on your guests’ devices and useful to them off property?
One suggestion is to utilize loyalty points. Many hotels are offering loyalty points to guests who download their app, and retention can occur by increasing the value after the download. Rewarding comments or hotel surveys through the app or even for suggestions regarding the app itself.
Another way to do it is to make the app useful when the guest is no longer on your property. Here are some questions to think about:
If you can answer yes to these questions, then your app is bringing value to your guests every time they travel. Not only that, it’s bringing value when they have a free Saturday with the kids and want to find something new closer to home. It brings value when they are planning a special date or have a friend visiting from out of town. And it brings value back to you when they remember that and come back next time.