Recently, it was reported that PC sales had dropped to their lowest level in history, with global shipments falling by 10.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2013. It’s no secret; consumers continue to prefer using tablets and smartphones to engage with online content, as these mobile devices are arguably more responsive, more accessible and can be used on the move.
Companies in the hospitality sector are also realising that solely having a PC optimised websites is no longer enough. There has to be an alternative that will capture customers when they are constantly on the move. This is particularly true for hoteliers as many of their customers will likely be travelling and will only have access to portable devices such as a tablet or smartphone.
Having a mobile app facility will give customers an alternative option and will support a hotels’ conventional desktop enabled website. The availability of a mobile app offers the customer the opportunity to access immediate information about bookings, menus and places to visit in the nearby area without having to go through the arduous process of finding a PC when out and about trying to enjoy their holiday.
At the start of the year, PWC predicted that there would be at least 2,400 boutique hotels set up in London over the course of the next few years. These hotels will need the requisite technology to support their services and with the high level of cost associated with running a London hotel, owners will hope to limit technology costs as much as possible. Therefore, having a platform where they can create apps for free is something that should appeal to these high-end, boutique hotels and will allow them to compete with the global giant hotel chains.
A mobile or tablet app will also help to enhance the image of these hotels. Many will hope to present themselves as new, chic and up to date with the current digital landscape and a supporting app will help to enrich this persona.
This decline in PC sales has, in effect, kick-started a revolution for the hotel industry. Apps are perfectly suited to this particular industry and within the next five years every hotel will have adopted mobile and tablet app technology. If you’re a hotelier, being an early adopter can set you apart from your competition as they wait for everyone else to embrace it.
Unfortunately, many existing boutique hotels are cautious about embracing an app version of their site for tablet and smartphone customers. There is a perception that apps are expensive, difficult to set up and reserved for a select few. This just isn’t true.
More and more hotels will start adopting apps when they recognise the importance of mobile technology to their overall marketing strategy, which will encourage a greater adoption across the board.
From a marketing and revenue-boosting point of view, apps give hoteliers the ability to share bite size amounts of relevant and targeted information with potential customers. It’s far easier to update information on an app than it is on a website and with hotels this is really important as there are likely to be multiple updates on menus or booking offers on any given day.
The gradual death of the PC is paving the way for alternative methods of information gathering for consumers. Smartphones and tablets are now the preferred option for consuming information and the hotel industry will have to recognise that most of their customers will be on the move and in need of quick, real-time information.
JP Dumas, founder and CEO of Appy Hotel