Do’s and Don’ts When Building a Hotel App
11th September 2017
Have you decided to build a guest app for your holiday property or your hotel? An app can truly enhance your guest experience, create new opportunities and save you time and money. Here are our top do's and don'ts when building a mobile app that will help you make the most of it and avoid common mistakes.
Top 5 do's when building a guest app
Gather all your current content and update it before you start
Make sure you get off to a good start with your guests by providing them up-to-date information. Before you start building your app, gather all your current content (guest information book, flyers etc.) and make sure the information is accurate. Once it is done, you can start thinking about how the content is going to appear in your app. We recommend putting the essential information first (contact details, Wi-Fi password, booking, how to work things) and adding your recommendations afterwards. We have a complete guide on How to Compile a Guest Welcome Pack.
Make sure your app is consistent with your brand
Whether you manage a single accommodation or several properties, you want to make sure your app reflects your brand and your accommodation(s) properly. Make sure to use your branding in your app, whether it is colours, logos, pictures or other elements. Your brand is directly linked to the guest experience. With a stronger brand, your guests are more likely to engage with you and recommend your vacation rental.
Include a link to your booking engine
Mobile booking has become increasingly important over the last few years. In 2016, 148 million mobile bookings were made. Arguably, people downloading your app are extremely likely to be your guests, meaning they have already booked. However, including your booking engine in your app means they can extend their stay directly or book a stay for their next holidays. The beautiful part is, all bookings made from your app are commission-free.
Have a web app and native apps for both iOS and Android
This is a technicality that will make a big difference in terms of the guest experience. It will occasionally happen that your guests do not want to download a mobile app on their phone. It could be because they are only there for a couple of days or because they already have too many apps installed. A web app solves that issue. Instead of downloading an app, guests get a link. It is basically a web version of the app. If this is a convenient solution for guests who do not want to download an app, the overall experience is better on a native mobile app. It ensures all functionalities work and most of them will work even without signal or data while a web app requires an internet connection. A native guest information app will ensure a smooth experience for your guests.
Make sure your push notifications are timely and useful
Push notifications are great to directly engage with your guests. You can send them reminders, offers, news, links, images, events and more. However, it is important to remember to use them only when necessary. Indeed, sending too many notifications is likely to have your guests uninstall your app and be overall dissatisfied with it. Think of it as an email or a text message, you would not want to receive one from the same company every hour.
Top 5 don'ts with a hotel app
Do not think it merely replaces the guestbook
This is one of the most common mistakes. A guest app is part of your guest experience and offers a lot more possibilities than a guest information book. You cannot simply forget about it when you have published it. As you will see below, you will need to market it to your guests and update it regularly. A mobile app also offers tools to engage with your guests, such as in-app messaging or push notifications. Do not miss this opportunity to build stronger relationships with your guests and increase satisfaction.
Do not go too crazy with colours and images
Having a beautiful app with engaging images and content is the goal. However, you must always keep in mind that the app needs to be practical as well. If you overload it with large images, the app may become bigger and it will take longer for your guests to download it. When choosing colours for your app, try to use the basic concepts of contrasting. Your text needs to be absolutely clear and easy to read. Overall, trust yourself: you do not need a designer to make a good looking app. Play around with the colours and content until you are satisfied with your design.
Do not work with an app company where you are not in charge of the content
It is essential that you are able to change and update the content of your app easily and quickly. There are generally two ways to go. Some companies (like ourselves) offer a content management system that makes it easy to create an app and update it from a computer or a tablet. Other companies will develop an app for you, but that generally means you will have to contact them first to update your app and you may have to pay for it. If you are not fully in charge of your app and its content, you will find yourself stuck in situations where you cannot make the most of your guest information app. Using a content management system is easier than it seems and controlling your app will give you peace of mind. Think of it as a website or a listing on a booking website. If you are not able to quickly update it yourself, it will lead to frustrating situations.
Do not forget to update it
Like a traditional guest information book, an app needs to be updated. You may have made changes in your property (Wi-Fi password has changed, an appliance has been replaced by a different model...) or your recommendations might need some changes (a new local restaurant has opened, contact information of a nearby attraction has changed…). Our advice is to update your app as soon as you are aware of it. With a content management system, it will only take a few minutes. You may have read this productivity tip before: if a task takes less than five minutes to be completed, do it straight away. This ensures your app is always up-to-date and your guests are happy.
Do not forget to market it
This is our last tip and perhaps the most important one. Rule number one of having a successful guest information app: your guests have to know it exists. Make sure to mention it in your communications, such as confirmation emails, social media, on printed materials or over the phone. Having a guest information app is not that common yet. If you have one or have decided to build one, you are already one step ahead of your competitors. Make sure your guests know about it. We have some tips to promote your app over here.