“The volume of Travel & Hotel Bookings made via Smartphones is expected to double in 2012”
This trend isn’t surprising, considering that consumers across every niche are getting more App-savvy, demanding that services/products are available via single/double-touch interfaces. Understandably, the hospitality industry is witnessing a plethora of hotel and travel apps being launched.
Apps are not being used just for virtual check-ins but for actually sealing the deal, i.e. finalizing the hotel stay/reservation. Within the segment of App-happy guests, those seeking same-night stays and folks hunting for discounted, last-minute deals form the majority.
How do you make yourself a contender for netting App-driven reservations?
The trend of increased mobility altering the landscape of hotel reservations is undisputed—the real quest lies in decoding how can you adopt it?
At the moment, the answer to this question is dominated by 3 aspects:
1. Your Marketing/Promotional Budget—the bigger hotels have been quick to capture the App-friendly consumer, investing in packaged, multi-purpose applications that offer every kind of travel & hotel stay information and booking facility. However, every bed and breakfast unit cannot afford to launch a dedicated App.
2. Your Choice of PMS to Leverage Lack of App Mobility—you might not realize this but your choice of PMS system tech provider is also a consideration, i.e. assuming that you have been smart enough to get have gotten started with a Hotel Management Software by now!
Though none of the leading PMS providers offer a dedicated App, progressive Hotel Management Software developers like Hotelogix have created a smartphone-compatible interface. This basically means that the entire front desk and various points of sale can be handled via smartphones.
You might ask that how does this help a prospective consumer to make a reservation. Obviously, it doesn’t. However, this is like offering a parallel technology advantage. Hotelogix offers dedicated consoles to travel agents and corporate clients, helping them create reservations via smartphones.
3. Your Choice of OTAs—nearly all the popular OTAs have released or are on the verge of releasing their Apps. Thus, your association with the leading OTAs is vital to establish your App-compatibility to some extent. Count upon the prominent OTAs to capture and channel prospective travelers towards your hotel. Pessimistically, you can brood that this means revenue reduction with more dependency on OTAs while optimistically, you can take a sigh of relief, feeling assured that OTAs are ensuring you are within the loop of App-generated bookings without having to spend anything.
Arguments Galore—Much More than What Meets the Eye!
This topic is far more complicated than what our discussion suggests. Many questions remain unanswered. For instance, do dedicated hotel apps put forth utility if a hotel receives its business mainly in the form of loyalty/repeat guests? This also includes the kind of competition mobile bookings will create between hotel owners and their distribution (and intermediaries) channels.
In a follow-up to this discussion, we will provide our opinion about how the advent of newer hotel technologies is also creating a ‘Connectivity Deterrent’ for some hotels. In the meanwhile, please present your opinion about the utility of Hotel Apps for your type of hospitality business.