Harness the Growing Power of Mobile Apps



By Hannah Byrne

In today’s high-tech world, mobile apps are mandatory for hospitality-related companies.

Pew Internet Research recently reported that 35% of all apps adults downloaded between June and August of 2011 were used for Events/Destinations. Content is king in the travel market. Hospitality companies that aren’t actively seeking a way to deepen their customer engagement through custom mobile apps are going to be left behind.
That’s because smartphone owners are addicted to their phones. They’re the last thing many travelers look at before they go to bed, and the first thing they check in the morning. Why would you want to miss the chance to be that close to your consumer?

For a growing number of Americans, their smart phone is their entertainment, their news source, their alarm clock, their work device, their email, their compass and more. If you don't have an app, you're missing the #1 easiest way to reach your customer on a one-to-one level. It's a marketing dream come true.

By any measure, mobile apps are a major force to be reckoned with, not a flash in the pan. Approximately 1,000 apps are downloaded every three seconds. Mobile app usage has skyrocketed to 94 minutes per day. The number of smartphones worldwide is expected to hit the two billion mark in 2015.

Here are a few key benefits to developing a custom mobile app to share your brand with current and prospective customers:

Put Your Brand In Their Hand - An app provides a completely branded experience. Yes, you still need to be included in your local “city guide” app, or your Convention & Visitors Bureau app, just like you are included on their website. But would you not have your your own website because you’re listed on someone else’s site? No, of course not. And the answer should be exactly the same for an app. 

Provide Immediate Shareable Information - Successful travel apps give customers immediate information about their location, what they’re looking for in relation to the destination and the ability to share that info with others. Location-based content is one of the fastest rising mobile markets. Very few people use paper maps anymore because they can’t tell you where you are in relationship to what you want.

Engage One-to-One With Your Customers- Once you have an app, you have to encourage usage of the app. Just like your web site, your app needs to give people a reason to return. This is where engagement comes in. What are you offering in your app that would make a customer want to launch it again? Did you update them with post-event photos? Announce the speaker line-up for next spring? Include video of your keynote speakers?  Take advantage of creative opportunities to engage one-to-one with your customers.

Affordable Cost - It’s a myth that quality engaging apps are expensive. The rate at which the mobile industry is moving continually provides business owners the opportunity to create and maintain their own custom mobile app.
Harness the Power of Social Media – Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest can be united on one app, allowing users to continue to stay within your branded app experience. That way, you can deliver the ultimate ongoing experience of your event/destination, even after the customer has returned home.

Deepen Loyalty - Tools to deepen customer loyalty are becoming increasingly valuable and easier to attain. Right now, your company can offer discounts, promotions and advanced notice of events to your app users. However, in the not-so-distant future, you will be able to suggest even more specific content of value to your customers such as customized products, or build-your-own vacation/trip.

Well-branded mobile apps offer a host of handy features including maps, GPS locations, photos, videos and much more. However, the goal of a successful app is to use information to establish connections with customers and, ultimately, to turn those relationships into repeat business.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Roughly 40 billion applications have been downloaded from the iTunes App Store and Android Market since their inception. And we’re only at the beginning of the mobile app era.

  • The U.S. Digital Media Usage Report notes that smartphone users will reach 106.7 million in 2012, up 18.4% from 2011. Additionally, mobile internet users will reach 113.9 million in 2012, up 17.1% from 97.3 million in 2011.

  • ComScore reports that, in the U.S., teens and older Americans are the fastest-growing demographics for smartphone usage, with ownership among people age 55 and older growing by 78% last year.


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Hannah Byrne is the CEO and co-founder of rappidapp, a leading mobile app content management platform

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