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What are the critical features for a hotel guest app to make social distancing easy?

Social distancing measures are starting to ease but we won’t return to ‘normal’ immediately, if ever. Hotels need to create new socially distant processes to give guests the confidence to book.

New safety measures are popping up everywhere but surely for hotels it should be so much more than rows of tape on the floor and bottles of hand sanitizer. 

Prospective guests want to book a getaway but they need the confidence to stay in hotels again. The ability to replace close contact with mobile experiences will become make or break for bookings.

I have long promoted the use of hotel apps to increase direct bookings, drive loyalty and increase customer lifetime value. Now hotels have an even more pressing need to adopt them but many hotel apps are little more than glorified guest directories. So, what does a hotel app need to fully support social distancing and encourage guests to book?

As a minimum an app should include mobile check-in and check-out, ID verification, digital room keys, invoicing, and the ability to order food and beverages.

No need for queues with mobile check-in

App-based check-in reduces the number of guests in busy areas. It’s something Radisson is rolling out this month. Its CEO believes it 'could' become commonplace and is predicting the end of traditional check-in. It frees your staff up from the front desk, reduces risks for everyone and provides a smooth first impression of your hotel.

Reducing trips to reception with mobile check-out & invoicing

Accessing invoices on-demand and check-out via an app means one less trip to reception at the end of your stay. Getting invoicing right is an important part of delivering a frictionless experience for guests. It led us to streamline the expense processes for business travellers by sending invoices to the booker as well as the guest. Having a hotel app enables you to include these touches which improve the customer experience. 

ID verification must go hand-in-hand with mobile check-in

An online verification process is a must. There’s no advantage to online check-in if guests have to visit reception to present their passport. We’ve made it a priority to develop in app ID verification.

One less thing to sanitise: digital keys

Already being adopted by industry leaders including Hilton digital keys replace plastic cards which need to be cleaned and require a visit reception. Checking in activates the guest’s phone as a digital key. Noetic’s app also collects lock status data so staff only need to visit rooms to maintain locks when needed.

Take food and beverage online

With social distancing, restaurants will have reduced capacity and queuing at buffets will be a thing of the past. Ordering via an app is a no-brainer that will generate revenue. YES! Hotels is already using its app to share menus and offer room service

There is a more pressing need than ever for hotels to adopt apps as a matter of urgency. Apps bring other benefits too, they can be a key tool in getting customers to book via lower cost direct channels. Those who use this time to invest in apps will not only make social distancing easier but will also be able to use this technology to reduce cost per sale and build long term relationships with high lifetime value customers. 

Find out about the huge potential the right hotel app could bring your business beyond social distancing. Click here for more information

Written by: Stephen Barr, Chief Insight Officer and Co-Founder


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