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Hotel App 101: Integrating Your New App Into Marketing and Operations

Congratulations, you are likely one of the many forward thinking hoteliers who have come to realize the importance of giving your customers the resort tools a mobile app offers.  Now the question becomes how do you best integrate the customer’s app experience into your existing marketing efforts and on-site operations.

This can be summed up with one simple point. Use and promote the app at every point where it will improve a customer’s overall vacation experience.

What does that mean?  It means learning the five key tools to making your hotel mobile app a success to both your customers and your RevPAR.  For this guide, we will use the new app developed for the Breakers Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC as an example.


#1: Website, Social and Booking Integration

Customers cannot download and use your app if they do not know it exists.  This means you need to promote your app to your guests at every possible opportunity.  On your site and booking process, this means the following:

  • App store banner for mobile users
  • Home page site promotion
  • Booking engine promotions on the confirmation page
    • We do not recommend promoting the app during the actual booking process. This can lead to a customer who is in the process of converting to leave the process to download the app.
  • Social campaign integration
    • We encourage your social teams communicate with the technical teams on the app launch to fully take advance of the resort’s social equity.
GuestExpress mobile app for hotels

#2: Email App Promotions

Email promotion has proven to be the most effective tool for driving app downloads for resort guests.  The reason is twofold.  First, a resort app is primarily useful for a person who has already booked or is booking a stay, which means your target audience for app downloads is hyper-qualified.  Secondly, email interaction leading up to a stay has open rate surpassing 80%, which means your guests are going to see the app message.

With a captive audience within transactional and pre arrival messages, what is the ideal means to drive app downloads?

  • Confirmation Emails: Make your confirmation emails do more than confirm. These are the emails that get the highest open rates and customers are excited about their upcoming vacation.  This is the place to promote the app to drive a quick conversion.
  • Dedicated App Emails: Before arrival, send your guests a dedicated reminder of the great benefits the app offers and download instructions. Promoting on-site convenience and benefits is key in this message.
  • Pre-Arrival Emails: Typically, within a few days of arrival a resort will send a pre arrival message with the details of the guest’s stay, on-site promotions, and general area information. Our clients have found this is an especially good conversion point for driving app downloads.  Your guests are excited to visit, now is the time to capitalize on the excitement and get your app in their hands.
  • Express Check In Email: The express check in message is the last opportunity before a stay to encourage a guest to download the app. This message is specifically designed to highlight one of the key features of any quality resort app… The ability to skip the line and check in in advance.
Breakers Resort Mobile App - GuestExpress

#3: Resort Promotions

Onsite promotions are a critical element of the app adoption process and helping guests download and use the app during their stay.  This step helps elevate a guest’s experience during their stay, but also provides a valuable tool to deliver additional services.  For the breakers resort specifically we created a kick-off launch event and tools for ongoing promotion.

  • The Launch Event: Everyone likes free stuff, and the power of a koozie goes a long way. The day of the app launch the Fuel team greeted resort guests with free koozies, dining coupons, and help downloading the app.  Guests where very receptive to the gifts and enjoyed the poolside DJ promotions, prize giveaways and more.  A launch event such as this resulted in over a 50% download rate of all hotel visitors.
  • On-Site Signage: After the event, the resort was encouraged to and continued to promote the app with check in signage, in-room promotion, elevator signs, and restaurant/bar tabletop displays.
  • Push Messaging: One of the most effective tools of mobile apps is the ability to push messages to specific guests based on arrival, room type, group code, check in status, and more. A sampling of these push messages include:
    • Express Check In Alert
    • Room Ready Alert
    • Happy Hour and Restaurant Messages
    • Poolside and Event Alerts
    • Group Specific Messages (such as your group bus is leaving in 10 minutes)
    • Late Check Out Promotions
    • Customized Messages as Needed

Staff awareness and buy-in is a critical step of the on-site promotion and proving staff with the right tools leads to a significantly higher guest adoption rate of the app.

Breakers App Release

#4: Training

Front Line staff needs to know an app exists.  This may seem elementary; however often times non-reservation, staff are unaware of marketing and guest services such as apps.  Therefore, we recommend:

  • Key staff and manager training to become very familiar with the app functionality, benefits to the guest, and how their individual departments can assist guests with the app. For instance, a housekeeper suggesting a guest use the app to contact the concierge using the app if they need additional towels improves guest satisfaction and improves resort management.
  • Give frontline staff additional tools to sell the app. These would include training for front desk, F&B, guest services, and managers to understand the specifics of the app.  App cards are another great tool for front line staff to have on hand to give to guests with download instructions.
  • Continue to reinforce the importance of the app on an ongoing basis by reviewing downloads and performance as part of your daily/weekly meetings.
  • Create incentive programs to reward the staff when they do a great job promoting and driving downloads.

#5: Reporting

By this point, you have already launched the resort app, shared it via social and email, promoted via the resort, and have your staff trained for success.  The question now becomes, how do you gauge success?

If you happen to be a Fuel client, you would log into your FuelGauge and review your app performance and usage.  Key metrics would include:

  • Downloads
  • Usage
  • Additional Services Revenue
  • Upgrades and Late Checkout Revenue
  • Bookings
  • Push Notification Performance.
Mobile App Reporting

Does building, promoting, launching, and managing a resort app seem like a daunting task.  It can be done, and easier than you think.  In fact, we have developed a turnkey solution for the complete process.  All that is left for you to do is contact us today!

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Pete DiMaioHotel App 101: Integrating Your New App Into Marketing and Operations
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