How Hotel Apps Can Create Friction in the Guest Journey

One study finds that customers strongly dislike being forced to download apps to complete a transaction. Proceed accordingly.

Most mobile users don’t want to be forced to download and install an app in order to complete a transaction, according to recent survey findings – and even when customers do it, they often dislike the process, potentially hampering the customer journey.

More insightful is the revelation that younger customers are even more prejudiced toward downloading apps, abandoning checkouts at significantly higher rates than their elders in situations where an app download is required. 

With regards to the mobile hotel guest experience, unfortunately there are instances where the full app is still required today. One example is issuing a digital room key, which in most cases, for now, requires an app while wallet integrations with Samsung, Apple, Google and others are fully developed.

In the meantime, it’s clear that, to meet the needs of today’s guest, tech providers must focus on web-based versions of their applications that reduce friction in the guest experience.

Some key data points to consider from the study include:

  • On a scale of 1 to 5, 40.1% of respondents find it “extremely frustrating” (5) when an app is required; another 28.4% describe their frustration at a 4, and 22.3% rank it a 3.
  • In the forced app situation, 38% of respondents said they only “might” go ahead and install the app, representing a significant potential loss in customers.
  • Overall, 78% of survey respondents have abandoned transactions in the last year at times when an app download was required.

Flexibility is the Answer

These findings underscore that it’s more crucial than ever for your business to offer both app- and web-based functionalities. And in the instances where an app is in fact necessary, it’s imperative that the app offers real, tangible value to the customer, and doesn’t simply exist as a company marketing and data cultivation tool. By rewarding users for installing the app, you can ensure they see that value, while minimizing any lingering negative impressions.

At Virdee, we recently released a web-based extension of our product to simplify the guest engagement process pre-arrival. Incoming guests can now access and input pre-arrival check-in information into the system via the web; upon arrival, they can then either download the app to access their digital key or obtain a physical key from a kiosk. As Apple continues to iterate on its wallet solution, we are pushing forward on developing integrations with the major wallet providers to eventually issue NFC-enabled digital keys via email or SMS. This will remove the need to download an app completely in the near future.

Currently, Virdee powers a fully contactless check-in experience, enabling 100% of hotel guests to check-in either via mobile device or kiosk, receive a digital or physical key and head straight to their guest room. New web functionality facilitates more engagement earlier in the pre-check-in process; guests can complete much of the pre-check-in requirements before arrival, and can seamlessly transition to the app to receive their digital key.

These combined innovations are paving the way for a more automated check-in process, which is creating labor efficiencies and ensuring guests are no longer standing in line at the front desk.

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Jason Q. Freed

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