Hospitality brands across the board are delivering more personalized content in their guest experience management (CX) programs and deciding that their branded mobile apps are the best destination for it. Since mobile devices typically accompany their owners 24/7, mobile apps provide uniquely consistent access to guests throughout every stage of their journey. Most critically, mobile devices accompany guests during the onsite visit where most transactions occur and where most memories are made.
Consequently, app downloads have become a critical success factor for these CX programs. Brands can reach more guests, impact more journeys and gain more insights about guest behavior and campaign performance when they can reach more app users. But, securing a download takes effort; not only are millions of apps competing for downloads within app stores, but users today are choosier than ever about which ones they’ll allow onto their devices.
Hospitality brands looking to drive downloads in support of CX campaigns can boost their efforts with these top tips:
1. Tell guests exactly what your app will do for them.
Remember that your guests won’t know all the amazing things your app can until you tell them. “Download our app!” as a marketing call-to-action is too vague to compel anyone to act on, and is too easy to ignore. Instead, list the problems your app will solve and how it will make a user’s life easier. Since your app likely solves many problems, be sure to tailor your marketing to accommodate a guest’s current context.
When a guest receives an email confirmation after booking nights at a destination resort: “Download our app to pre-book dining, spa activities and other activities before your upcoming visit.”
When a guest picks up a printed map from a brochure rack after entering a large theme park for the first time: “Get our app to plan your day using today’s event schedule, current ride wait times, dining information, and walking paths from your current location to any park attraction.”
2. Tap into frontline employees as a marketing channel.
Your brand may have hundreds or thousands of employees on the front lines. By phone, online and in person, your employees are the ones your guests turn to for answers and advice. You can easily turn these employees into hundreds or thousands of “app ambassadors” simply by teaching them about your app. When employees know how to use an app and the benefits it provides, they’ll know when to suggest it to guests. Your employees also can raise awareness of your app by referencing it in any scripted guest interactions (such as the hotel check-in process), or by adding it onto employee uniforms with a badge or button that describes a key benefit of having the app.
Food and beverage workers might promote a message such as “Did you know that you can save time by pre-ordering and paying for lunch inside our new app?”
Guest services staff might display a message such as “See our calendar of shows, events and activities and skip the line by buying tickets inside our app. Ask me for more information.”
3. Attend to your app store listing.
Given that every app marketing effort leads to an app store listing, it’s astonishing that so many listings are neglected. App store listing are the last critical step on the conversion path – and where marketing efforts diminish if users find any reason to bounce. Consider that 70% of users read at least one review before downloading an app and 42% view app store reviews as equally or more trustworthy than personal recommendations, according to a report from Mobile Action.
Luckily, app store listings are easily optimized by focusing on an app’s benefits (in both copy and screenshots) and by consistently responding to negative user reviews. When app store visitors see a brand is engaging with user feedback, those brands are rewarded with better app ratings and reviews. Last year Apple observed a 1.5 star average increase in ratings among apps who responded to user reviews (Apple’s 2017 World-Wide Developer Conference). At the same time, Apptentive found brands that increase their average app rating from 1 to 3 stars can expect to increase conversions by 340%. You can see how responding to user reviews is well worth the effort.
While employing this advice will help hospitality brands drive app downloads and expand the reach of their CX programs, a reminder that acquiring app downloads is just the first step. Long-term success requires a strategy for ongoing usage and user retention, such the delivery of valuable content that brings users back into your app (and into your venue) again and again.
Danielle Chapman is The Experience Engine’s Product Evangelist.