The steadily growing sales numbers of smartphones and tablets are the best proof: mobile devices are the future. According to the technology research company Gartner the number of tablets will surpass PC shipments by 2017. Gartner estimates a 14% decline in the traditional PC market between 2013 and 2017, whereas tablets will surge nearly 140% in the same period. “Lower prices, form factor variety, cloud update and consumers’ addiction to apps will be the key drivers in the tablet market“, said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. Mobile apps have become very popular, because they facilitate service or product functionalities on mobile devices. A mobile app allows hotels to simplify the whole process of booking a room and to offer other hotel services, making it easier and faster for hotel guests to request hotel services.
The popularity of mobile devices has led to the emergence of the so-called mobile commerce, also known as m-commerce. The increasing usage of mobile devices has changed the needs and expectations of customers. As more and more people are using mobile devices to get information about product and services, the mobile market has become a very effective and profitable new sales channel. With their own app, hotels can easily reach out to their guests and inform them about special promotion offers.
Hotel apps also allow integration of different communication channels, such as a direct social media connection or push notifications. This way, the hotel can keep hotel guests updated and provide them with relevant information about the property. Also, using the hotel app guests have various possibilities to contact the hotel, and the hotel in turn can immediately react to questions or requests by guests. A hotel app is not limited to a single channel, but offers numerous channels for an improved guest-hotel communication and experience.
Offering a hotel app can strengthen both customer loyalty and brand loyalty. A mobile app can integrate a guest loyalty program (GLP) where hotel guests can collect points for their bookings and hotel stays, which can then be changed into rewards. Furthermore, hotel guests can be encouraged to give feedback via an integrated review function. This way, hotels can collect their own hotel reviews directly from their guests. Utilizing functions such as GLP, loyalty bonuses, and hotel ratings positively affect customer loyalty and strengthen brand loyalty.
Mobile apps offered by hotels are still rare. A study showed that 74% of hotels surveyed are aware of the importance of booking via a mobile app for their guests, but only 1/4 of properties are actually taking advantage of this opportunity. Therefore, by offering their own app, a hotel can create an important competitive advantage over properties who have not yet launched one, as the demand on the customer side is high, but the offer on side of hotels is still low.
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