More than two-thirds of consumers use mobile devices for travel research and booking but are unimpressed by hotel apps or unaware of their existence, according to a new report. The mobile order and payment specialist QikServe has found that consumers are overwhelmingly underwhelmed by the mobile apps currently provided by hotels.
The survey found that more than two-thirds of consumers are using their mobile phone to research, book and pay for services relating to travel but 81 percent felt that hotel apps were behind the times or lacking functionality, or were simply unaware that they even existed.
The survey did find definite demand for useful hotel apps. As well as making bookings, checking in and out and accessing general hotel information, respondents felt that other features such as preordering at hotel bars and restaurants, ordering roomservice or food and drinks in other areas of the hotel, such as at the poolside, would also be useful in a mobile app.
“These responses were from a group that is happily using apps for flight boarding passes, researching timetables, booking restaurants and so on, so this is a lost opportunity for the hotel sector, particularly as much of the functionality demanded by travelers relates to revenue generation opportunities for hotels,” said Daniel Rodgers, CEO of QikServe. “And nearly half the respondents were keen on using apps to receive special offers and manage loyalty accounts, which would provide ongoing marketing opportunities for hotels.
“Many hotels have made significant investments in developing mobile apps, so in some cases this lack of knowledge may be just down to poor promotion, but low adoption could also be because apps aren’t covering the range of functionality for them to become habit-forming for guests, or that they aren’t integrated well.”
Bruce Hoffmeister, global chief information officer for Marriott International, said the rise of mobile has given his company more opportunities to interact with customers before, during and after a stay. His teams must make sure the new technology not only works but is easy to use, he said. But promoting the app is key.
“We now have mobile check-in and mobile check-out,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “We are in pilot stage now with digital entry, using your smartphone as a key to open your hotel room. That’s going to grow very rapidly. We also have the ability to do mobile service requests, so guests can interact with staff at the hotel through their mobile devices, whether they want a different kind of pillow, or some kind of service. We’re doing some work with mobile dining, so you can order food through your mobile device.
The QikServe responses were gathered as part of a survey about the use of mobile technologies in the hotel sector. In the detailed survey, 155 travelers were asked for their perspectives about their use of mobile technologies and the mobile apps offered by the hotels that they stay at.