Perhaps it was inevitable: Smartphones now control about 35% of the US market, and in response to that growth, hotels are creating dedicated apps for their guests.
But I’m not referring to apps by broad-based chains, like a Starwood or a Hilton app. No, individual hotels are contracting with programmers to create single-property apps.
I don’t see the point.
I’m generally in favor of making things available online, and I, too, have embraced the mobile web. I like the idea of, say, ordering room service using my phone or laptop. (Though I also see room for abuse by pranksters, or worse, if the web-based application doesn’t have some way of sorting out who the real guest is. Knock knock… “You ordered 20 lobster dinners, sir?”)
So I’m all for going mobile. But why would I want to bother downloading an app that’s limited in its functionality to a single hotel?
Maybe if I lived at that hotel for months of the year, but if I’m just staying for a few nights, then I don’t want to clutter my phone with an app I might use once or twice and then never use again?
Apparently hotels think so. In the last month, I’ve gotten several hotels’ PR pitches, proudly announcing their new mobile services online. And each breathless press release has proudly touted an app. I just keep thinking the hotel is wasting its time and money.
If hotels want to make their services accessible to guests online, great. But just make the website mobile-browser-friendly. Skip the app.