Three out of five business travelers in the United States are now using at least one app that they downloaded from one of the seven major hotel chains, and experts expect the number of travelers who use such apps worldwide to continue to increase.
Usage statistics for these apps are increasing important, because many travelers are now using their smartphones to book rooms. The Global Business Travel Association reports that travelers most often use hotel apps to check the status of reservation, with 43 percent of users saying they fall into that category. Meanwhile, 39 percent of users turn to apps on their phones to book and pay for rooms. These numbers might get even larger, experts say, if hotels invest in making their apps an even better experience for users.
, the GBTA fellowship director of research, said, “Hotels have room to expand the capabilities of their mobile app as well as promote increased awareness of those capabilities, as the interest is there. In the future, hotels could invest in innovative new technologies, but should also continue to focus on improving existing amenities, especially Wi-Fi as that remains most important for business travelers.”
The way travelers use hotel apps seems largely dependent on age, according to other numbers from GBTA. Users who are 55 years old or older say they are most likely to use an app on their smartphone to check the status of their hotel reservation, while younger users, ages 18 to 34, say they prefer to use apps to browse amenities such as room service. The future for these apps could eventually involve such intricate features as keyless entry, which is far from standard these days.
Hotel owners have taken note of this increase in app usage as well. TripAdvisor’s CEO, , says his company is planning for a world where all hotel booking, reviews, and other business will eventually be handled by apps and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Kaufer said the biggest chance to expand revenue through hospitality industry apps comes from repeat users who save their credit card information in their phones, allowing them to easily pay for rooms or amenities with a few presses of their fingers.
The importance of a solid app is also visible in the most recent reports of desktop computer use for travel booking. EMarketer.com has reported that sales of travel services booked through desktop PCs or laptops are declining, with $115.91 billion of such sales being booked on those devices in 2015, which represents a 1.8 percent decline.
EMarketer has projected such sales through the end of 2019, a year for which they expect non-portable device booking to have dropped even further, while smartphone booking soars as high as a potential 79.2 percent.
However, even with apps making travel booking much easier, TripAdvisor CEO Kaufer said there is still one factor that determines booking success above all others. “I want to be clear: price,” said Kaufer. “Consumers prefer the cheapest price.”