3 Things Consumers Look for in a Great Hospitality Mobile App

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3 Things Consumers Look for in a Great Hospitality Mobile App

03/02/2017
The ethos of the hospitality industry is to be welcoming, friendly, and receptive to all, no matter what sector you’re in. Your goal is to deliver an incredible experience to be remembered such as an amazing meal or an exquisite overnight stay. How is that possible when the one welcoming the guest is not a person but a mobile app? What’s the digital equivalent of a maÎtre d’ or concierge – an expert not just in information but in how to interact with customers? In this article, Detroit Labs will discuss how to create a great hospitality app.
 
A truly great app anticipates a customer’s – or user’s – needs before they have time to realize that there’s a gap. It leaves the customer with a feeling of delight just like a superb interaction with a staff member. User experience or UX, in mobile parlance, is what makes an app a success or a failure. The right UX delivers an unparalleled interaction that leaves the customer happy and hungry for more. Poor UX choices can completely derail a customer interaction, resulting in negative brand association and potentially impacting future sales.
 
With UX of such key importance, operators should ask themselves important questions on how to create a great app to communicate their brand’s value and ensure happy users. Perhaps the most important question of all is: What do customers typically look for in mobile apps that create these positive connections?
 
Branding understanding
UX is less about what an app does and more about how it feels. Customers don’t just use apps, they engage with them. The instant a user opens an app for the first time, they form a connection with it. Their initial impression draws upon physical and emotional cues and is largely influenced by UX.
 
In a way, users form a relationship with the app — and with the brand that created it. And like any other relationship, users can sense when something is wrong. It just feels “off.” Users get that same type of feeling with a lackluster UX or an uninspired design. But don’t confuse these two. Although they go hand-in-hand, UX and design are not the same thing. Think of it this way: design is just the icing on the cake. User experience is the cake itself.  
 
Direct action
In order to achieve an optimal user experience, think like a user. Operators need to understand who the user is, why they use the app, and how they can easily accomplish their task. Even if an operator designs the most beautiful app in the world, the app will underwhelm and frustrate the users if it doesn't give much thought to the details.
 
No matter how much an operator loves its own app, understand that there is a limited amount of time that users will be actively using your app, by design.  Ultimately, users want to hop in, make a purchase, get information about a reservation or experience, and close out. If there are too many barriers to their end goal, it is likely the user will get frustrated and may abandon the brand for a competitor with a better, more streamlined app. Consumers have more options than ever before, so you must make sure that your user experience is superb.
 
Evolve or die
The best apps are not necessarily perfect but are the ones on a continual trajectory of self-improvement. App users are humans, and humans (and the technology that they use) change frequently. The app must evolve to meet them where they are, not where the brand hopes they happen to be or where they once were. An app should be treated the same way the brand is treated: with high regard and constant attention.
 
Monitor App Store reviews to see how audiences respond to the app, and listen to what they are saying. Users will say what they like and what they don’t. They will point out issues that may have been overlooked and will develop a stronger bond with the brand if these comments are taken seriously. Incorporating changes into upgrades demonstrates to uses that their feedback matters.
 
Analytics can help the brand discover problem areas by highlighting high traffic areas, uncovering navigational patterns and revealing where users are mostly likely to drop off. Pay attention to the story the analytics is telling. This data will provide a solid indication of user behavior throughout their journey of your app.
 
Designing a mobile app is not a one-and-done deal. Advances are rolled out on a regular basis and user preferences shift over time, creating the need for continual optimization. Apps are a long-term investment in the brand and business and should be prioritized as such.