Your owners are turning to mobile; are you? Learn to make the most of your hospitality app
By: Jessen O'Brien
Travelers are ready to do more with their mobile devices: Two-thirds of respondents to The Mobile Revolution Is Here, a study by the Center for Hospitality Research, had downloaded at least one travel-related mobile app and later deleted half the travel apps they tried out. “Your owners and guests are adopting new tools and devices at an accelerated pace,” says Christine Ciccone, vice president of online marketing at RCI. “Incorporating an app-driven experience into your resort service strategy can be a key differentiator in attracting and retaining visitors and potential owners.” A number of resorts are ahead of the curve when it comes to developing hospitality apps for smartphones and tablets that owners enjoy using. Here, a look at best practices as well as pitfalls to avoid.
The first step in any vacation is answering the question “Where to go?” The Hard Rock Resorts All- Inclusive app persuades users that the answer is one of the company’s properties by offering virtual tours, photographs and in-depth descriptions. Iberostar Cancún’s app takes a different approach, providing videos and descriptions of excursions to nearby places, like Cobá and Tulum. Users can also learn about a resort’s restaurants and amenities. And both the digital RCI® Directory of Affiliated Resorts and the Endless Vacation® magazine app for iPad®* and the Android™ platform** offer destination-based articles, videos and photography to help travelers plan their next getaway. Detailed resort listings provide RCI® subscribing members with all the information they need to book once they’ve chosen a vacation destination.
Upgrade owners’ experiences
An app is a great way to reward owners for their commitment. Bluegreen Vacations distributes iPads loaded with the Bluegreen Owners Vacation Guide app and the RCI app at the point of sale. With these tools at their fingertips, users can explore Bluegreen’s properties, discover owner-exclusive experiences and get insider tips on some of the best ways to use their RCI subscribing membership. Unlimited Connectivity by AMResorts provides guests with extra value by enabling them to call and text and go online over a resort’s Wi-Fi, avoiding roaming fees. Meliá encourages guests to join its rewards program with the MeliáRewards app: Travelers can enroll in the program and check their points on their mobile devices.
Travelers are particularly interested in using their mobile devices to make reservations for dining and activities, according to the Center for Hospitality Research’s The Mobile Revolution Is Here. Several vacation ownership groups have already incorporated scheduling features into their apps. With Unlimited Connectivity by AMResorts and the Palladium Hotels & Resorts app, owners can arrange dinner reservations or room service, book spa appointments and even discover special deals and offers. The Hard Rock Resorts All-Inclusive app allows users to make similar reservations and provides information on live music, DJ performances and other types of nightlife to help them make their evening plans.
Provide area info
There’s a reason so many hospitality apps supply guests with maps or GPS-enabled navigation: Users want practical information that’s immediately relevant. Palladium Hotels & Resorts, Iberostar Cancún and Fairmont help owners find local points of interest through their mobile devices. Other apps serve as on-site destination guides. Take the Snowbird app, which is available to owners at the ski resort The Cliff Club. Snowbird tracks the amount of snowfall over the past 24 hours, shows year-to-date and base-depth totals and offers a live weather feed for the mountain along with multiday forecasts. Users can also check on the current number of open lifts and trails. In providing so much information at the touch of a finger, Snowbird is an essential tool for guests looking to hit the slopes.
Personalize guests’ stays
An app can help ensure that an owner’s experience stands out by getting personal. Members of Fairmont’s President’s Club can use the Fairmont app to access the company’s exclusive guest-recognition program on the go. The app shows members their Fairmont history and tracks the number of qualified stays they need to move up to the next level. Guests who download the Wyndham Canterbury at San Francisco’s app are greeted by name thanks to its beacon technology. That same tech helps staff give specific recommendations according to guests’ interests. If owners have questions, they can contact staff by using the app’s chat function. The result is a highly personal app that works to seamlessly enhance guests’experience of the resort, encouraging them to return again and again.
*RCI Ventures magazine is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored or otherwise approved by Apple, Inc. Apple, the Apple logo and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App store is a service mark of Apple, Inc.
**© 2015 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google, Android and Google Play are registered trademarks of Google, Inc.