There’s an app for that!

iphoneMobile Applications (or Apps as we common folk refer) are taking over the world and with over 3 million apps and counting, it does not seem to be a slowing trend. Consumers spend more time on their mobile phones than ever before, giving rise to the growing preference of patrons wanting to engage in business transactions from their own mobile devices.

Mobile internet access has now overtaken the traditional desktop, with Google announcing in May of this year that more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in most countries across the world. With that in mind, all major hospitality groups worldwide are now focusing on mobile strategies in order to enhance the guest experience, offering fully customisable mobile apps that make all types of digital transactions simple for guests —before, during and after their visit.

As the use of mobile apps grows in popularity, venues need to embrace this mobile future and utilise the technology to empower their patrons and boost their bottom line. If you are considering an app for your venue, then here are four points to remember in order for it to be successful.

1. Superior service through self-service
Superior service through personal interaction has always been at the forefront of the hospitality industry, however due to the rapid uptake of technology, it is becoming increasingly important to allow guests to make the ultimate determination of how they choose to interact. This is especially true, given the multiple generations that venues need to accommodate.

This does not necessarily mean that staff become obsolete, quite the opposite, it is critical that staff are just as knowledgeable as the app. If your digital focus is to deliver up to the minute dining, promotion and event information, it will only be successful if the physical staff know the same information. If the technology information supplied conflicts with the real-time information available, a credibility gap could develop, doing more harm than good.

It is important for all staff to understand and be fully aware of all activities on the app, especially when it comes to real time promotion push notifications or updates sent via the app. Through regular communication and training, synchronising your digital service with your real time interaction service, can prove to be an exceptionally successful venture.

2. Mobile upselling and enhanced loyalty
In addition to enhanced service for guests, these apps can facilitate a platform for multiple upsell opportunities. Featuring the ability to create interfaces with external systems (e.g. a bottle shop or merchandise store), venues can streamline incremental revenue opportunities throughout a guest’s visit.

An app can also display complete F&B menus across the venue, complete with clickable images and even video tours of the spaces and specials of the day. Reservations can be made quickly and easily, offering seating times and availability, while online ordering from the table could easily offer visitors the best paired beverage for their chosen meal, and upsell them to a dessert that compliments their dinner and drinks – it could even tell them if their friends are in the venue!

Furthermore, by linking your loyalty club or membership, these apps can be designed to stimulate impulse purchases using accumulated loyalty points, or reminding them of their membership benefits. Members can follow their point accumulation in real time, helping to reinforce the benefits and strengthen loyalty, while giving you the option to deliver push notifications through creative bundling to encourage use of loyalty points.

Any service submitted digitally can be added to the guest profile, delivering customer intelligence that can be used to identify their preferences and deliver suggestions or reminders that are uniquely relevant to them during their time at the venue.

3. Consider the user trends
There are millions of apps which could be relevant to your venue, however it is hard to ignore the trends in social gaming and the alignment they have for gaming venues. Casinos lead the field in gaming and have discovered additional revenue streams, tapped into new markets and captured the attention of previously uninterested demographics. Utilising these apps, they have tied in rewards, prizes and points to successfully incentivise players to shift from being purely online clients, by making them visit their venues to redeem their winnings.

A recent collaboration between the online social gaming organisation, Club8Casino, and multiple RSL clubs is leading the Australian market on this front. The rationale behind the free social gaming app is to entice people to enjoy the thrill and excitement of gaming online, including rewards and redemptions, without using actual money. Then should they enjoy the virtual aspect of gaming, they may enjoy the physical experience at their local club. By offering virtual rewards or points that can actually be redeemed in the real world is a great way to drive new markets, increase memberships and encourage patronage of your venue. It’s certainly a developing concept for the industry so stay tuned!

4. Collect, analyse and use the data
Think about the apps that you use on your phone right now.

I guarantee that each one serves a genuine purpose; to connect, to send, to login, to communicate, to download, to read, to educate or to order.

Successful apps are not merely a repeat of your website content. They need to extend on the existing information and enhance the experience, while also delivering a personal experience for the patron. You must give people a reason to download by offering a genuine value add that cannot be found anywhere else.

The primary reason for apps however should be to collect data to give you the tools to serve your guests better and deliver an exceptional experience that will drive loyalty long term. That means there is also a requirement to have your app integrate with your internal systems and software.

Your team doesn’t need another gadget plugged into an already fragmented system that won’t talk to anything.

Luckily, there are developments happening in this field daily, and already a number of products are in the market right now that act as a customer host system to assist in driving loyalty.

This mobile technology provides as many benefits for the venue as it does for their patrons. Through apps, venues can gain the ability to gather data, understand behaviours, offer better service and monetise patron preferences, they can then use that data to make business decisions surrounding marketing, distribution and pricing.

By integrating an app into your marketing mix you are broadening your horizon, casting off the limitations for real-time interactions to increase your reach and encourage greater engagement.

Just be careful that you don’t end up like so many who ‘have an app’ and use it to upload the monthly website promotions and leave it at that. There’s so much more to do and I can assure you, there is an app for that!

If you would like assistance with your marketing strategy, please drop me a line at candice@dws.net.au or (07) 3878 9355.

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