That the mobile channel is growing step by step and will become the dominant channel through which travelers will be able to find our hotels is no longer in doubt.
Practically all the large hotel businesses currently have a mobile-adapted Web site or app to allow travelers to explore available hotels, make reservations and access their client loyalty programs. The mobile channel, for now, generates a small part of total hotel reservations, but it is growing exponentially.
In 2012, reservations by way of mobile phones and tablets represented around 7% of the total, according to PhoCusWright. That is nearly 12 times greater than the mobile channel’s share in 2010. The forecast for 2014 is for mobile-based reservations to reach 20%, PhoCusWright estimates.
Specifically in Spain, smartphones have currently reached a penetration share of 66%, the highest in Europe. Mobile devices account for 30% of Internet access and investment in mobile in Spain has grown 45%, while in most sectors investment has fallen, which makes it important to keep m-commerce in mind when making our yearly marketing plan.
This channel is clearly important but here is where a question occurs to the hotelier: “Develop a native app or a Web app?” It is the moment to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each and evaluate the most suitable option for each situation. Let’s look at some of them:
Apps make the most out of the integrated performance features of these devices, such as GPS, image capture, audio and video, contact lists, etc.
Apps also make it possible to take advantage of the distribution channels in Apple Store or Google Play with many possibilities in the area of marketing and branding, although that is a task in which one has to overcome the visibility barrier and incur marketing costs, since it requires that the app is downloaded first.
Purchases within these apps are done through the device’s user account, an easy process because there is no need to provide credit card information.
The main characteristic and advantage of Web apps is that they are multiplatform, generally functioning in all mobile devices since they work with any navigator that supports HTML5. With only a few adjustments for each platform, any user can enjoy the Web app on his device.
In contrast, native apps require a different development for each operating system, which adds application development costs. One has to keep in mind that not all smartphones function with the same platform. It is essential to reach the maximum number of platforms, or at least the most important – the iOS and Andriod, which account for 80% of all smartphones globally.
The technology is simpler than that required for the development of native apps, making it possible to use HTML5, JS or CSS.
Another important advantage is that in functioning independently of the distribution channels of the manufacturers and operators, these apps are free of their control, both in the initial publication and in subsequent actualizations, as happens for example with the applications in the AppStore, with actualizations arriving automatically to all users and platforms at the same time, thereby also avoiding Apple’s download cost.