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.

pixel Do we really need smartphone apps for individual hotels?
Categorized in: hotels

23 Responses to “Do we really need smartphone apps for individual hotels?”

  1. TheGourmetCoffeeGuy Says:

    Your post is very interesting and raises a great point. Agree with your assessment: seems unnecessary to do this for a single hotel…

  2. Chris Says:

    This sounds like when everyone rushed to get a .com address. “I sell sock puppet monkeys, so I need to have a flashy website for!” Too many see the trend, but miss the point.

  3. Ben Says:

    I think these property owners would love the home office to do a decent all for all locations, but it’s really hard and expensive to do that with antiquated core systems, so they are going it alone.

  4. Webb Says:

    While there can be a distribution benefit to being in the app stores, I totally agree that these products are too focused to assume individuals will download one-off apps for each individual hotel. Could there be a dedicated application for a network of boutiques? Hotels could just tell you that they are on this common application. Not sure if this would give them the customization they would want, but it might help more with exposure than just a mobile-friendly site.

  5. cheap auckland hostel Says:

    For convention and visitors bureaus and city tourism departments, the development of an app for the iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android can prove useful in boosting travel to your area and patronage of local hotels and eateries.

  6. Patrick Says:

    We’re building an app that directly doesn’t that, and were in discussions with hotels for it. Our app is specifically designed to find other hotels that are close when they book in another city.

    The biggest issue we’re running into is the disconnect between Hotels not understanding the customer experience (who really spends more than a few hours in the room, other than sleeping?). It’s an interesting point, though.

  7. Travis E. Church Says:

    I agree with the author. It will be impractical to download an application which you will only use for a couple of days.

  8. Evangeline Says:

    A good idea for hotels would be to have those QR images posted around the hotel or on their brochures so that you could bring up a mobile friendly website onto your smart phone. No app necessary! Just convenience. I’ve seen some stuff like that in Florida.

  9. FlyingAnxiety Says:

    Turbcast is a great app for mild cases of fear of flying.

  10. Travel Thailand Says:

    I totally agree that these products are too focused to assume individuals will download one-off apps for each individual hotel. Thanks

  11. Matt Says:

    This is a typical problem with technology in the same way we see Google+ , Facebook, Myspace, etc. etc. in social networking they all have limited uses yet all want their own piece of the pie. In the end I think it will go like the mobile phone where people like myself WANT A PHONE! I don’t want apps, I don’t want 100 ringtones I just want a phone that dials and receives numbers nothing else.

    Technology may be able to offer a million and one things to our fingertips but who says we want it?

  12. Stella from Mykonos Says:

    WHo would download an app for each hotel?? Seriously!

  13. loco2 Says:

    This was an interesting post. I wonder if hotels in the UK will have Apps for room service? It does seem like Apps are dominating everything nowadays but I guess it is a handy tool for whomever is a fan of Apps. But you are right if you are staying in that hotel for a few nights it would really be pointless keeping the App on your phone.

  14. Hellenic Travelling Says:

    You are absolutely correct! Now a days all hotels should focus on having a smartphone friendly version of their site and couple it with Google Maps/Places and submit to mobile directories.

  15. avinash Says:

    i think this is good information

  16. avinash Says:

    great blog.

  17. avinash Says:

    according to me this is really essential.

  18. ravi Says:


  19. matt Says:

    It would be nice. Imagine making a room service order on your phone.

  20. Kali Says:

    I see this being a great idea for people like my aunt and uncle. They go to Las Vegas just about once every couple months and stay at the same hotel every time. This would work great for them if that hotel had this app. For someone like myself though, not so much. I don’t travel nearly enough to even think about downloading an app from a hotel I’ll probably stay at once. I’d rather just pick up the phone and talk to a person that way. I guess it just depends on your lifestyle and what you prefer. I do see the point about pranks. I can only imagine what someone can do from their own home. Maybe if they were only able to sign in when they check into the hotel. That could solve that problem quickly.

  21. ArcheAge Says:


    Lucky me!

  22. Stress at work Says:

    Stress at work

    Blog | Upgrade: Travel Better

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