Marguerite Ady | January 27, 2020
By Margaret Ady
It’s time to explode the old notion of app as 2020 approaches and take a look at the breadth of possibilities a hotel app store has to offer. Here are a few that have caught my attention lately
Two point five million! Well, almost 2.5 million. This is the number of applications that the Google Play Store has. Apple’s store came in second with 1.8 million apps. In perspective, 1.69 million people live on Manhattan Island. It’s more of an app for every person on the island. Applications have become the benchmark for managing our lives, both operations (budgets, exercise, bill payment) and life outside (professional, social, news applications).
Why don’t we think of hotel applications the same: the complete solution for all operational and guest needs of a hotel? Hotel apps still seem stuck in the dark age of the branded hotel app that guests have downloaded, the one hotels hoped to be the route to direct bookings at one point, but instead it languished in as a static marketing tool for many properties.
Hotel applications are much more robust than this old-fashioned notion of the application. Applications exist for the full spectrum of back-end operations (CRM, performance management, channel management, revenue management), as well as for customer use, including SMS, mobile check-in, room orders, room service orders, etc.
The point is, it’s time to explode the old notion of app as 2020 approaches and examine the range of possibilities that a hotel app store offers. Here are a few that have caught my attention lately.
Mobile check-in is evolving
Biometrics meets mobile check-in at FlyZoo, Alibaba’s hotel of the future. Using the Fliggy app, a guest can choose their hotel room, make reservations and, with a facial scan, access the elevator, be delivered to the correct floor, and enter their room.
Staff engagement via the app
According to Harvard business review, companies that use applications to communicate with “dispersed workers” need to reduce turnover and increase productivity. In fact, top quartile engagement companies have 25-65% lower revenue, 21% higher productivity, and 22% higher profitability. Additionally, HBR notes that research shows that a mobile app for employees significantly improves internal communication, especially among middle managers, and reduces wasted time.
Choice of room via the app
Hilton has chosen to strengthen its rewards programs by improving the functionality of the app specifically for loyalty members. The Hilton app allows Hilton Honors members to choose their specific room from a digital floor plan, as well as upgrade and request specific amenities delivered to the room prior to arrival. The genius is to entrust the personalization of the stay directly to the customer, rather than guessing on the often incomplete CRM database.
AI-powered guest engagement
Chatbots and digital concierge are nothing new. The Las Vegas Cosmopolitan has a well-known voice assistant named Rose, and Edwardian Hotels has a hotel chatbot named Edward (Phocus yarn). But we’re bringing it up here because AI-powered guest engagement of all kinds (concierge, messaging, chatbots, etc.) will become ubiquitous in the coming years. This means that hotels must be on top of a strategy to integrate these efforts. Most guests (80%) report positive experiences with chatbots, but the uses for chatbots have yet to be fully defined (Hotel management). There is room to grow.
Parking gets a makeover
Parking in city hotels is expensive, so anything that enhances the experience will undoubtedly be welcomed by guests. Using smart sensors and an app, hotels can offer guests the option of reserving parking spaces in advance and being allocated a space upon arrival. According to Hotel management, this saves hotels on the labor costs associated with manually managing parking inventory and improves the guest experience, making the latter trip smoother and safer. Sometimes the cost benefits are in the little things.
Blockchain technology is still largely in the exploratory phase in terms of real tactical benefits for hotels. What blockchain does well is offer a single source of truth about a transaction. Moreover, as trip-tease note: “If hotel reservation transactions were to be removed from the control of siled systems and placed in a decentralized blockchain, transactions would theoretically become easier and cheaper – the savings (in an ideal world) being passed on to the user. final final. , the guest. “Blockchain companies are rolling out reservation apps for independent hotels, loyalty programs, and payment processing features. Travelport, for example, has launched a blockchain tool to address inefficiencies in the checkout process. payment of commissions between hotels and travel agencies (Today Hotelier). We will be looking for more strategic uses for Blockchain applications over the next few years, solutions that will undoubtedly save hotels money and become more efficient.
Room service reinvented
Room service has long been a drain on resources for hotels, so much so that much of the conversation around room service over the past few years has been about whether or not to continue with it. the offer. With consumers everywhere in delivery services these days, hotels can integrate delivery services into their room service plan, whether it’s completely replacing room service or reducing hours and hours. to complement with food delivery apps. According to Phocus yarn, some brands allow customers to earn loyalty points for in-room meal orders or redeem points for food delivery. Additionally, “while there are challenges with third-party delivery – such as logistical questions about whether deliveries go directly to rooms or to the hotel lobby – whether to proceed. a shared payment model, most hotels recognize this growing trend as both inevitable and necessary to satisfy guests and preserve their margins.
The path to innovation during economic downturns
Harvard research shows that hotels that balance investment and savings fare better in the long run after an economic downturn. Investing in API-first systems (those that allow hotels not only to access a hotel app store, but also to build exactly the apps they want) is the type of investment that helps hotels innovate. even when funds are depleted during lean economic times. A quick read of the above apps shows that beneath the surface of most apps lie efficiency gains and increased profitability, but just as importantly, guests expect hotels to continue to go from the front. A hotel with the same technology today as a year from now cannot remain competitive. Hotels that, rather than investing in legacy systems or cumbersome technologies that require a lot of time and energy, invest in the agility of fully integrated technologies will have more opportunities at their fingertips, and so will their guests. .