What is a hotel mobile app?

A hotel mobile app is a software application designed to make life easier for hoteliers, and that has been designed specifically for small, wireless devices like smartphones and tablets.

Modern hotel mobile apps come in any number of forms and are designed to help in all aspects of your hotel operations, from optimising your room pricing to scheduling your housekeeping roster. Many are even designed for guests, to ensure their stay is as fun, comfortable and stress-free as possible.

Integrating them with your existing systems has the potential to take your business to the next level so let’s go through everything you need to know about hotel mobile apps, and some of the best ones to try.

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Mobile apps for hotels

Life for small property operators never stops. With so many daily tasks to complete amidst trying to build and maintain close relationships with guests, there’s a lot of pressure that can mount up.

Moving around the property to talk to guests, clean, cook, and perform other chores means you’re spending time away from your front desk. But you also need to keep an eye on your bookings – even when you’re trying to relax with family or friends.

Easing the pressure and gaining some much-needed freedom lies in the ability to use your property management system on the go, with a mobile app. Nowadays, there’s seemingly an app for everything, and they’re changing the way we conduct our daily business. The best apps are user-friendly, save us time, and make our lives simpler.

The development of hotel mobile apps

To put it as simply as possible, an app is a piece of software that allows you to perform a specific task or tasks. Apps can be used on a smartphone, desktop and laptop, and even televisions. 

In many respects, the mobile app revolution began before the first Macintosh computer was ever released. Steve Jobs pictured a database of software programs that people could shop for as if they were in a record store. This first vision occurred nearly 25 years prior to the development and release of the iPhone, and subsequently the App Store.

Slowly but surely, apps crept into our lives and became a powerful force in our personal and professional lives. Every time you use Microsoft Word on your computer or Instagram on your phone, you’re using an app.

The use of apps is a growing trend worldwide. Today, there’s pretty much an app for anything you can imagine; from social media, to exercise tracking, to cooking, to music, and more.

But did you know that there are even apps you can use at your property to run your business more efficiently, improve guest experience, cut costs and boost your profits?

These nifty little programs hold a lot of power and the hotel industry is becoming flooded with more each day.

Why do you need a hotel mobile app?

One of the most powerful groups of travellers today is millennials — the generation of young adults who value experience over items. This is the same group who grew up with technology surrounding them, and they have come to expect the latest technology to greet them as they travel the globe.

Hotel mobile apps can be a quick and easy way to research and reserve a hotel, especially to those who are constantly on the move. There’s no need to open a browser and navigate to a site through Google, or type in the right URL – the traveller can get where they want to go in a single click and enjoy all the functionality they need via an intuitive, purpose-built interface, from booking a room to enjoying an enhanced guest experience.

Many accommodation providers have already caught on, creating or using hotel mobile apps to improve the guest experience – for example, some accommodation apps allow guests to order room service, give the power to check in early, or conveniently purchase extras and experiences. Other hotel features include exclusive local guides, concierge services, deals that can only be found on the app, and the ability to request specific types of toiletries for the bathroom.

On the other side of the coin, small hotels can also use accommodation apps to improve their backend business operations and increase overall efficiency, making life easier.That’s why Little Hotelier has its own mobile app to help you keep on top of your property management, and an app store where you can access a range of useful apps that allow you to grow as a business and deliver better services.

hotel mobile app

Benefits of using hotel mobile apps 

You’re probably getting an idea already that there is an app to suit any purpose you want to fulfil at your property. The beauty of apps, and hotel mobile apps in particular, is that they can be whatever you want them to be and do whatever you want them to do. At a time when small, independent hotels are increasingly looking for technology to streamline and grow, hotel mobile apps can form a real competitive advantage.

The market is full to the brim with apps that can help you:

1. Make more money on each booking

A hotel mobile app with direct booking functionality allows a guest to book their stay directly with your hotel, saving you the sky-high 15-25% commission fees that OTAs charge on every booking. The best apps will also grant you total control over the booking process, which means you can offer a wealth of extras, add-ons and upgrades as a separate step, helping to drive up the value of every booking.

2. Improve your reputation

The best accommodation apps give the guest control over their stay, which enhances the experience of staying with your hotel, and subsequently improves your reputation. Take self-check in: it allows a guest to head straight to their room, removing the need to stand in a queue or fill out annoying paperwork. It also frees your staff from admin, giving them time to add extra touches that will impress guests and lead to five star reviews.

3. Build better guest relationships and loyalty

If your guests sign into your app, you’ve taken a significant step to customer loyalty, which you can drive through a dedicated, in-app loyalty program. And the flow-on effect of the increased time and control mentioned above is ultimately an improved experience for your guests, who will reflect this in their reviews and feedback – which is always good for business!

4. Boost direct bookings

Perhaps the defining feature of a hotel mobile app, on the guest side at least, is the ability for customers to book directly with your hotel. You can boost direct bookings by enticing people to use your app with promotions like loyalty points or free upgrades (being careful to abide by any OTA rate parity agreements).

5. Adopt contactless processes

While hotels were driven down the contactless path during COVID, many found that implementing a hotel mobile app granted an opportunity to significantly reduce friction points in the guest experience. Self-check in, self-checkout, app-ordered room service and digital key cards can reduce guest wait times and staff workloads.

6. Streamline reservation management and check-ins

Being a more efficient business is the overarching benefit of using an app to manage your property – since it lets you perform your most crucial tasks without the need to be tied to your front desk.

7. Manage your property remotely

Your own personal life will benefit too – since you can run your own errands without panicking about being away from your property. Your app will let you manage reservations, check-ins and check-outs, and communicate with guests remotely.

8. Save time and cut costs

Incredible time savings can be driven by a hotel mobile app. Little Hotelier, for example, can save your team as much as 35 minutes on every single booking. By reducing the workload, you can reduce the amount of staff you might need on any given shift, which can decrease your main cost – labour – dramatically.

9. Upsell to your guests

Your guest is about to complete a reservation on your app. They’ve chosen their room and dates, they’ve typed in their info, but before they get to the payment screen you present them with a few tempting extras: a bargain room upgrade, a discount on room service, a deal for your spa. You might be surprised at exactly how much these little upsells and cross-sells can increase the average value of your bookings.

10. Increase guest communication capabilities

A good accommodation app will give you a direct line to your guests, allowing you to communicate with them instantly and smoothly. Offering an open line of communication to your guests through an app, rather than making them trudge to the front desk every time, can make things so much easier for them, and can mean that your reception team faces far fewer confrontations, as issues are fixed before emotions boil over.

Generally, apps are designed to make life simpler for you while running your property. They allow you to customise the technology you’re using to suit your needs, solve real problems easily, make confident decisions, and manage data more effectively.

Then there are guest-focused apps which aim to please your customers by offering them:

  • A way to quickly and easily book directly with your property.
  • The best possible price (thanks to direct booking functionality), as well as special deals and discounts.
  • An enhanced guest experience, with in-app functionality allowing them to book services and make requests during their stay.

Why you need to combine your website with a hotel accommodation app

There’s simply no excuse for a modern hotel not to have a website – travellers now almost universally search for and book hotels online, and while OTA listings have their place, they don’t offer the level of detail, nor the ability to book directly, that a website does.

Your website is the beating heart of your online presence – the thing that everything else, from your social media channels to your Google Business Profile, links back to. And by combining your website with hotel mobile apps, you can increase its reach, functionality and effectiveness.

You can add a hotel mobile app that optimises the price of every room to ensure you’re maximising your revenue, that enhances guest communication before, during and after their stay, that helps you to track reviews and enhance your online reputation.

There’s a hotel mobile app for everything, from basic hotel management to optimising every aspect of your business. And when you combine this endless functionality with a well-built hotel website, the opportunities are incredible.

Top hotel apps your business should check out

Don’t know where to start? If you haven’t nailed down exactly what you need an app to solve, take a look at this list.

Here you’ll see the apps that are most popular with hoteliers right now. They include:

Get the best hotel mobile app for your small property

Let us introduce you to Little Hotelier’s mobile app and how it can help you manage your daily business much, much, easier.

Little Hotelier mobile app

Little Hotelier’s app lets you manage your property from anywhere you can get an internet connection.

You’ll be able to:

  • Check guests in and out
  • Monitor and manage reservations
  • Collect payments
  • Edit room statuses
  • Manage everything all from one interface

It’s an effortless way to manage your property on the run – it will even send you helpful push notifications for any alerts you need to be aware of, such as new or updated reservations.

Little Hotelier’s app is purpose built for mobile devices, so it’s easy to use and brings your front desk to the palm of your hand.

Introduction to the Little Hotelier App Store

As mentioned, Little Hotelier now hosts a hotel app store! You now have a place where you can access innovative apps designed specifically to help small hoteliers enhance their businesses.

Here you’ll be able to find apps that cover all the benefits mentioned above, and more.

These accommodation apps can work hand-in-hand with the Little Hotelier system, allowing you to extend what’s possible at your property in terms of management efficiency and the services you can deliver to your guests.

As the industry evolves, and in turn your business does too, adopting handy apps on top of your current systems will allow you to grow smoothly to meet the needs of travellers from all around the world.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).