Wanderlust: developing an app for restless explorers

Apps are often an essential piece of kit for holiday makers always on the look out for their next adventure, whether that’s a city break stay or a week sunbathing on the beach. But how can hoteliers ensure that the app they invest development in meets customer expectations and delivers return of investment?

Apps are often an essential piece of kit for holiday makers always on the look out for their next adventure, whether that’s a city break stay or a week sunbathing on the beach. But how can hoteliers ensure that the app they invest development in meets customer expectations and delivers return of investment?

Firstly, the end user needs to be at the forefront of all decisions during the planning and development stage. And the app will need to have the agility to adapt to any changes in these demands or expectations. What some companies haven’t fully understood yet is that today’s customer expects their chosen hotel to offer innovations they don’t have access to already. So, offering free Wi-Fi is like retailers offering free shipping – something that is just expected – meaning that hotel apps will need to go above and beyond the norm to impress.

To this point, make sure you understand the end user – and overlay this with insights and data on how they already interact with your venue online, as this will impact how they interact with your app. Key demographics, such as age and geography, will have a significant impact on the user’s interface expectations.

Target audiences will typically be excited about their stay and keen to find out as much information about a proposed destination and venue as possible, in a short amount of time. Keep these objectives in mind, and ensure that the app is delivering on what your customer will be looking to achieve by installing your app. For example, are you looking to entertain, educate or streamline a process for the user? All too often brands can overcomplicate apps, so simplicity is key; customers want a minimum number of clicks and brand consistency when interacting with your application.

Travelling is not cheap, and customers have often already splashed the cash for a luxurious time away so your app needs to reflect this. Ensure that your target audience enjoy their researching or purchasing journey, this will help to encourage the sale conversion.

It is important to consider that today’s connected consumers expect high levels of personalisation – they expect to receive tailored push notifications and communications based on their purchase history, location and frequency of buying. Adjust the app to consider context, location and timing, so it highlights information and actions relevant to where the customer is and what they are doing at that moment in time. Caesars is an example how hoteliers can use their app to give more power to the customer. The myTR app allows Total Rewards members to manage points, check existing reservations, and look at special offers and notifications.

Then make personalisation work harder. The app needs to be agile enough to incorporate smart personalisation – there’s little point sending a customer a promotion when they’ve logged a complaint with reception. Ensure all your communications are integrated so consumers are sent the right things at the right time and that the offer is relevant to them – it may sound logical but everyone has experiences of ‘personalisation gone wrong’, which can have a long-term negative impact on their experience with the hotel.

Continuous improvement will be essential in ensuring the app remains relevant and adds value to the customer journey. In the same way, you should track how visitors interact with your ecommerce site, monitor how consumers are using the app to see if any tweaks or adjustments need to be made. New technology should also be considered such as virtual reality (VR) so that holiday makers can see a true view of the location, rather than them trying to judge images online that may have been edited.

Apps need to be constantly assessed, reviewing what works and what doesn’t so hoteliers can then identify functions most commonly and least frequently used, as well as most popular offers traded in. This will allow you to consistently increase customer engagement and, as a result, help to drive profit through a surge in conversions.
To this end, by incorporating customer feedback into your marketing strategy you will be able to continually improve the offering and amend and issues that arise, before they become more widespread or damaging.

Apps are a great way of engaging with customers on a personal level and provide an unrivalled platform to customise offerings and experiences to ensure that your target audience is satisfied throughout their purchasing journey. By continually assessing and improving this kind of tailored offering, hotel venues will soon see the positive results of higher level engagement. This will also result in retained loyalty from their audience as the app succeeds in meeting – and where possible – exceeding customer expectations.

Rowan Welch, Account Director – Travel, Black Pepper Software

For more information, please visit https://www.blackpepper.co.uk/

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