The Best Ways Hotels Can Use Mobile Apps
By Tom O'Rourke President & CEO, O'Rourke Hospitality | December 28, 2014
It was July 10, 2008 when the way we thought about the Internet, mobile phones and technology in general changed forever. On that date, Apple introduced the App Store via an iTunes update. The iPhone 3G was launched the next day and was one of the first mobile devices from Apple to take advantage of the new store and its apps. Google quickly followed with its Android Market (now called Google Play) on October 22 that same year.
Over 6 years removed from the introduction of the App Store, the way we think about apps has dramatically changed. The introduction and adoption of mobile devices like the iPhone presented an issue for content development and consumption: the content available didn't match the screen size. Luckily for mobile phone users, these newly introduced mobile apps were the solution. Indeed, an app became about getting content to a mobile device in a way that was optimized for that particular device.
But as in all facets of business and life, the landscape changes. Flash forward a few years and web developers, marketers and others alike started to catch onto the idea of "mobile first" or "responsive website design". Responsive design is designing a website in such a way that the website would automatically adapt to the user's screen size. The idea or theory of responsive design actually dates back to 2004, but the practice didn't really take off until 2012. By 2013, most had heard of responsive design; in fact, Mashable said 2013 is the year of responsive website design.
What's more important here is that responsive design was being recommended as a cost-effective alternative to mobile apps. "We don't need a mobile app because we have that responsive website" became a common phrase. Mobile apps had been a great solution for getting mobile optimized content to mobile users for a few years, but there was a cleaner and less expensive solution on the table; the mobile app had effectively lost its place.
Still, no one could deny the popularity of mobile apps; Apple's App Store has over 1.3 millions apps and over 75 billion downloads alone (as of September 2014). And with responsive design in the picture, it was time for the next phase, an evolution if you will; one that we are currently in the middle.
With the advent of responsive design, mobile apps don't have a clear purpose, so people started asking where mobile apps belong and what's their ultimate purpose. We believe the answer to those questions is simply "usefulness". Speaking more specifically to hotels now, mobile apps are all about making your guest's life easier and providing usefulness. Apps today should be about finding areas of functionality and not playing second fiddle to responsive websites. Let's take a deeper dive into the best ways hotels can use mobile apps.
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