With the advent of the digital era, the way people choose to travel has changed drastically. While our older generations still go the old route and book hotels and trip through their trusted travel agent, the younger generations, i.e., the millennials, also take into account the experience of their stay. Hence, companies like Airbnb, TripAdvisor, HomeAway, etc. are making the cut in the travel industry at this age as these companies don’t just provide accommodation to their guests but unique experiences. The hospitality industry mostly thrives on the reviews on the internet and the various web platforms these days. When so much is at stake on the internet and various web platforms, the hoteliers or the travel agents can also enhance the staying experience of the guests through mobile apps.
The mobile apps can give the guests and the hoteliers an interface to interact with each other directly. Not only will this help to give your guests the complete experience that they are looking for but also boost the operations and the business of the hotels or the resorts. Startup companies are working in close tandem with the hospitality industry to design self-serving mobile apps.
Dileep K, the Co-Founder of the startup called Okguest, which works with hotels to increase and enhance guest experience during their stay, believes that "Leveraging on Mobile Apps at hotels in enhancing guest experience can increase the guest satisfaction by 75% and ROI by 50%."
To increase the interaction with the customers, a mobile app can be helpful in the following ways:
- Provide self-service features
Picture this. You are in your room and instead of calling for room service every time, you can schedule it for as long as you wish to stay. Or you can check-in on your mobile device and upload all your documents, instead of waiting in a queue at the front desk of the hotel. Well, these are possibilities can be made real through a mobile app.
Since most of the guests make their bookings through mobile apps, they are already well-versed with the interface. Therefore, adding services like these will only help in enhancing services and the experience of their stay. The app will thus be a bridge to better communication between the staff of the hotel and the guests.
However, the self-service amenities will not eliminate the real interaction between the guests, the staff and their services. You can still have the staff of the hotel or the resort at your service any time you wish for. If implemented properly, these apps will rather accentuate the relationships between the customers and the guests. Self-Service facilities are making their way to all kinds of industries and businesses, especially to the ones which offer customer-related services.
To get a fair idea of how the self-service amenity can aid in the hospitality industry, listed below are a few instances where the facility can be used for the greater convenience of the guests
- Lunch and dinner reservations at the restaurant of the hotel they are staying at or at the nearby eateries,
- Booking appointments for self-indulging sessions like massages, spas, etc.,
- Requesting valet services,
- Ordering for room services,
- Dry cleaning and laundry services,
- Using the GPS of the mobile app to order drinks, towels, food, etc.,
- Checking in and out of the hotel/ resort, and
- A payment gateway for paying for accommodation and other services at the hotel.
The realization of this model will help both the customers and the staff of the hotel; the guests will be happy with the efficiency of the services and the staff of the hotel will also be able to keep a tab on all the guests and serve them accordingly. The other benefits of the self-service model include:
- Brings around an effective reduction in waiting periods
- Lesser issues of operational glitches in the services
- Brings down the workload of the staff
- Inevitably improves customer services; and
- Helps in achieving greater operational accuracy.
- Utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make smarter decisions
The apps nowadays can store data of people and show recommendations to the users which match their profile or their preferences. This technology can be utilized for greater yielding results as the insights gathered by the app will aid in aggravating smooth functioning. For instance, in the hotel industry, the data of the customer will help the concerned staff have a fair idea of the customer and his/ her preferences beforehand. This can be a breakthrough achievement as this will help the staff serve the customers better and give them an enriching experience.
This app can also keep a tab of the services that the customers generally use on their trips. On the other hand, the staff too can reap the benefits of the app. They will be able to allot services to the guests accordingly and avoid a rush hour or worse, confusion in peak times. Therefore, this app will be able to manage the staff of a hotel better and allocate them with services and resources for serving the guests.
- Achieve more with fewer efforts
As already mentioned, a self-service feature goes a long way in catering for guests. This feature also can come in with an AI technology that will even help the staff understand their guests better and accordingly, give them the hospitality experience that they are looking for. Thus, along with lesser interaction with the guests, the self-service app will be thus beneficial to the staff of the hotel to organize themselves in other areas of service. Additionally, other staff-intensive services like booking appointments, paying for services, and requests for valet services can be done via the app itself. SO, the app will be able to not only deliver during peak hours but also aid in delivering greater service-related efficiency.
- Aiding Other Businesses through Sponsorships
As we already know, a mobile app can also be used for brand advocacy, advertisement and to encourage customers to opt for more services and sales. Thus, a mobile app will not only be of help for your hotel but be a window to bring loyalty programs and sponsorships too. The customer information gathered by the app will be crucial in this regard as the app can then advertise relevant services to the guests via the push notifications on the app. The user profile and the browsing and the purchase history of the customer will then recommend services and products to guests based on their location. Guests are always interested to check out the nearby experiences of the place they are staying at.
Therefore, an advertisement for special offers, discounts, and promotions will encourage the guests to indulge more in these services, giving you the chance to earn greater loyalties through advertisements.
Sponsorships can be useful even after the stay of the guest as fancy advertisements never fail to catch the eye of a consumer.
Thus, come to think of it, a self-serving mobile app is a win-win for both the customers and the hoteliers and can revitalize the travel and tourism industry. The hospitality industry, like its counterparts, can have a streamlined business and enjoy greater prospects by tapping into technological advances like these.
Designing mobile apps to enhance the experience of the guests during their stay is a formidable change and is a groundbreaking example of how technology can play a decisive role in the hospitality industry.