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Why did you build a hotel app?
In a nutshell, a good app should be designed above all to remove friction. If it doesn’t do that, it won’t deliver anything for your hotel.
You should think about an app as a delivery mechanism for CRM - good CRM makes what you want to do, effortless. In contrast, poor CRM is inevitably about sales promotion.
Noetic’s view is that if you remove as many of the potential pain-points as you can, the guest experience is much more likely to be a positive one and they are much more likely to want to come back. The result of that is more gross profit to your business - because you’ve now replaced an expensively acquired booking with an inexpensive repeat guest.
It’s simply good business to deliver an experience that increases the likelihood that they‘ll come back (returning guests costs much less). A good app brings that.
What’s the most important thing to think about when building an app?
The biggest points of friction relates to check-in, room access and check-out, so those were the first things we looked at.
The Noetic App, by default, replaces the plastic key - of which we are all familiar - with your smartphone. There’s no need to go to the front desk to get your room key if your phone is your room key. You log in to the app, tell it you’ve arrived, and the app tells you your room number. You can then go straight to your room and use the phone to open the door. No queuing means no friction. The app tells the hotel you’ve arrived, so you don’t need to.
When it comes to check-out, the main reason to go to the front desk is to give the key back and to get an invoice. We use the app to do that. As soon as you tell the app you’re checking out, it removes your access to the room (and tells housekeeping it’s available for cleaning). It will also ask if you want an invoice, generate it and email it to you, so you can get on with your day.
If a hotel app doesn’t do these core things, we don’t think it’s worth bothering with, as it can’t remove the friction that leads to guests deliberately choosing to not come back.
Are there any other must-haves that hoteliers should be aware of?
Hotel apps must have the ability to make bookings in the app itself. Your app users are likely to be your most engaged guests and encouraging them to stay in your ‘estate’ is key. Simply pushing them to your website - as many apps do - is lazy. In the app, the relationship between the guest and the hotel is hidden and private, as is all the data. Furthermore, any private rates you offer the guest for future bookings are just that, private, and escape some of the more anti-competitive clauses hotels have to sign up to if they want to work with OTAs.
For me, making one-to-one rates available in the app, to be booked in the app, is the other side of a great relationship.
Now, having removed as much of the friction as possible, you’re able to focus on what this one guest might say “yes” to. This can be done 1-2-1 and automated, based on their behaviors and their guest preferences - which should also be something they can request in the app. For example, if a guest likes a room at the back of the hotel and it’s available, it makes sense to allocate that to them, if it’s available.
What about the ‘nice-to-haves’?
There are lots of nice-to-haves and anything that encourages the user to interact with you whilst using the app is a good thing. So, an app should include a Guest Directory and FAQ section. Offering the guest the ability to write reviews that are published on external sites is helpful. However, before adding these features to an app I would prioritise the ability for the guest to give direct feedback on their experience via in-app surveys. Why? Because this gives you a wealth of additional guest data that can be used to predict their future behaviour. Bookings for restaurants (the hotel’s own or local ones), is a nice way of generating incremental income.
These are all good things, as long as the essential components (check-in, check-out, invoicing, in-app bookings) are working too.
Noetic Marketing Technologies is a hotel solutions provider based in the UK. Their guest management system (GMS) is designed to empower hotels who are on Oracle’s OPERA property management system (PMS) to acquire, migrate and retain more direct bookers. The result is higher value guest relationships and more gross profit for the business.
For more information, visit www.wearenoetic.com.