NATIONAL REPORT—Without question, mobile apps are dominating the travel experience, whether it is researching a destination, booking a hotel, visiting a hotspot in a new locale and then sharing the journey with friends back home. It is critical for hospitality brands to keep their mobile apps optimized to ensure travelers have a positive experience and keep coming back. Detailed metrics provide intelligence that can help businesses monitor and analyze customer behavior, and then take immediate action to improve their app game.
“Your app is your brand in your customer’s pocket. Speed and responsiveness is everything to delivering the information or purchase that the customer is seeking in the moment with low frustration and very quickly is key,” said Gregory Toto, SVP, product and development, Apteligent, a mobile application performance management solution based in San Francisco.
In a webinar hosted by Gina Baillie, GM, EyeforTravel, Toto and Joshua Sloser, VP, digital product & innovation, Hilton Worldwide shared their expertise and distilled key metrics around the customer experience to help businesses measure their ROI from mobile apps, engage the Millennial traveler and take the right actions to improve.
What’s driving the evolution and growth of mobile apps are the Millennial users and, according to Toto, this particular generation will outnumber Baby Boomers nearly 80 million to 56 million in 2030.
“Mobility in travel is skyrocketing and nowhere does the ‘in the moment’ needs of the user come into play more than when traveling. All users expect an app to be streamlined, simple and fast,” Toto said. “It is the Millennials’ shopping habits and characteristics that are driving the requirements and demands of the mobile experience. They value speed, convenience and luxury, so it’s important to serve these desires when it comes to the mobile experience.”
For Hilton Worldwide, its focus is largely on developing digital tools that smoothly connect and personalize the guest experience throughout the entire guest journey.
“It’s about things that are easy to use and that guests love. For us, that’s a lot of things. We’ve had a tremendous focus on improving the customer journey that historically has been websites and an app. There’s also a heavy focus on booking, which has really extended recently to the full guest experience,” Sloser said. “It’s about creating an incredible experience that merges both the digital and physical to really delight and spread the warmth of our company to all of our guests.”
One of the ways the brand is bringing this ethos to fruition is through their mobile app innovations, specifically digital check-in and the ability for travelers to choose their own hotel rooms. For travelers, being able to decide whether they wish to select a room away from the elevators, with a view overlooking the park or on a lower or higher floor creates choices they may not have had before and offers them the ability to control their trip. For the hotels, it helps to facilitate a positive experience by taking the potential friction out of travel.
“When guests come into a property, they want to be able to know where they’re going to stay. We let them pick the perfect room for themselves. We introduced digital floor plans that enable the guest to, a day in advance, pick the exact room they want,” Sloser said. “What we’ve been rolling out this year is digital key as an extension of that. Imagine you’ve just picked your room, and to your phone seamlessly, you get a key to your room. When you arrive on-property, you skip past the front desk and go straight to your room and open the door digitally. It’s things like that we try to obsess over to make sure that both the digital and physical experience of booking and being on-property is a seamlessly tied together experience for our guests.”
In digital, there’s always room for improvement and hospitality businesses must prioritize building on what they’ve created via mobile, while taking into account the myriad ways customers are interacting with apps are increasingly evolving. Mobile is enabling customers to optimize their lives into smaller time segments as people strive to get more done with less time. As a result, this is a fundamental shift in the way people shop and interact with each other and with brands, so it’s really about shifting your customer expectations and factor that into the overall mobile strategy, according to Baillie.