The Importance of Mobile Experience in the Hotel Industry

‘Luxury’ is a very personal thing, but given that everything is digital now, how do luxury hotels stay on top of the ‘digital’ experience of guests all the while keeping it ‘personal’ and ‘luxurious’? Guests are increasingly reliant on their mobile devices for everything from booking their stays to accessing hotel services. Aside from OTAs, there are two main avenues for delivering this experience: through the hotel’s website and through the hotel’s app. This raises a fundamental question: does a hotel really need its own app, or is a well-optimised mobile website sufficient? And once you’ve chosen one or the other, what’s best practice?

Website vs. App: What’s Necessary?

A seamless experience is key. If guests have to download an app just to perform tasks that could be done through a website, the app needs to provide added value. The effort to download, set up, and log in to an app should be justified by the benefits it offers. These benefits could include loyalty programmes, exclusive discounts, and other perks that genuinely enhance the guest’s experience. If an app doesn’t bring something extra, then it might not be worth the investment.

The Case for Apps: Big Chains vs. Individual Hotels

Big hotel chains like Accor, Hyatt, and Marriott often have their own apps. These apps provide value through loyalty programmes, allowing guests to track points, claim rewards, and access exclusive deals. However, many guests still prefer booking through OTAs like or This preference raises a question about seamlessness: how easily can these bookings be integrated into the hotel’s loyalty programme? If guests have to manually request to import their stays, it’s a hassle that detracts from the seamless experience.

Consistency and Responsiveness: Key Elements

Whether a hotel opts for a website, an app, or both, the overall feel of the hotel’s online presence must be consistent and responsive. Guests should be able to easily navigate and find what they need, whether they’re on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. This consistency ensures that the mobile experience is smooth and enjoyable.

Data: A Double-Edged Sword

Apps can provide valuable data about guests, helping hotels personalise and enhance the guest experience. However, this data collection must be balanced with privacy concerns. Guests are wary of sharing their personal information if they feel it will be misused or if they receive excessive marketing notifications. Hotels must ensure that the data collected is used responsibly and that guests see tangible benefits from sharing their information.

Profit Retention: Cutting Out the Middleman

Another advantage of hotel apps is that they allow hotels to retain more profit. Booking through OTAs often means losing a significant portion of revenue (usually 30+ percent) to these platforms. By encouraging direct bookings through their app, hotels can offer better deals and retain more of the profit. This can be a compelling reason for developing a dedicated app.

Loyalty and Retention: Keeping Guests Engaged

A well-designed app can help hotels lock guests into their ecosystem. With the right benefits and seamless experience, guests are less likely to switch to other hotels. This makes the app a powerful tool for building brand loyalty and ensuring repeat business.

Best Practices for Hotel Mobile Presence

To create a seamless mobile experience, hotels should consider the following best practices:

  1. User-Friendly Design: Ensure that both the website and the app have an intuitive, user-friendly interface. Navigation should be easy, and important information should be readily accessible.
  2. Mobile Optimisation: Make sure that the website is fully optimised for mobile devices. Pages should load quickly, and the design should be responsive.
  3. Personalisation: Use data to personalise the guest experience, but do so responsibly. Ensure that guests understand the benefits of sharing their information.
  4. Exclusive Offers: Provide exclusive deals and benefits through the app to incentivise downloads and engagement.
  5. Integration with Loyalty Programmes: Ensure that bookings made through OTAs can be seamlessly integrated into the hotel’s loyalty programme without extra effort from the guest.
  6. API Integration: To truly make things seamless, hotels should recognise that guests use various apps. Integrating APIs from services like Tripadvisor, OTAs, and flight tracking can add significant value. For instance, connecting to APIs for review platforms allows guests to post genuine, relevant reviews with a single click. Guests could be rewarded for disseminating their reviews across chosen channels. Similarly, flight details and arrivals could be integrated into the app, providing essential travel information at a glance. Linking with ride-hailing services like Uber and Grab ensures that transportation is just as seamless, enhancing the overall guest experience.

The decision to develop a hotel app should be based on the value it brings to the guest. A seamless mobile experience, whether through a well-optimised website or a dedicated app, is essential for enhancing guest satisfaction and building loyalty. By following best practices and focusing on the guest’s needs, hotels can create a mobile presence that truly stands out in the competitive hospitality industry.