A Guide to Developing Apps & Software for Hotels

The hotel, or lodging, industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. This growth is driven in part by increasing leisure travel, but it is also caused by the emergence of new forms of peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo. These new lodging models are making it easier than ever for people to travel, and that means that hotel industry needs to be able to find ways to accommodate more guests.

One of the easiest ways for hotels to do this is to invest in custom software solutions.

With custom software, hotel staff are better able to manage reservations, provide mobile check-in services, track inventory, and deliver hospitality-related apps to guests. In this way, hotels are better able to manage every aspect of their operations. Custom software also enables hotels to provide more personalized services. The success of peer-to-peer platforms has shown hotels that people want convenience and more personalized offerings, and customized software can help this industry bridge the gap.

Hotels can build apps that allow guests to view their room, check out their bill, make specific requests from the concierge, and leave feedback on their stay. These apps not only help guests to feel more comfortable, but they also help hotels to collect valuable guest data. A hotel could use this data to improve their customer service, customize their marketing, or even to help them decide how to deploy their staff.

In this article, we'll take a look at the different types of apps and software solutions available to the hotel industry and the features these apps should have.

The State of Software and Applications in the Hotel Industry

Software built for hotels must be able to handle some unique challenges that aren't found in other industries. Although specific challenges will differ from one establishment to the next, here are the biggest challenges facing this industry:

  • Accommodation - One of the most difficult challenges that hotel industry software must address is the need to accommodate more guests. As travelers are presented with more options for lodging, they are becoming more demanding and expect more for their money.
  • Conversion - Hotels must improve their ability to convert leads into bookings. Conversion is the process of converting a lead into an opportunity, and then converting the opportunity into a booking.
  • Accessibility - More and more booking opportunities are taking place on phones and other devices, and hotels need to increase their accessibility here and adapt to the mobile lifestyle.
  • Data Collection & Storage - As the industry grows, the amount of data generated by hotels is also ballooning, so it's also becoming necessary to build infrastructure that can support the storage of massive amounts of data.
  • Revenue - Hotels must increase their revenue in order to grow their business. Revenue is the money that a business receives from customers, and it is a crucial measure of a business's success.
  • Sales - Hotels must increase their sales in order to grow their business and keep up with industry disrupters like Airbnb and Vrbo. Sales is a measurement of a business's ability to persuade customers to purchase a product or a service.

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The Market for Hotel Apps and Software Today

Although the hotel industry, and the hospitality market at large, took a bit of a beating at the beginning of 2020 thanks to the pandemic, it's in the middle of a comeback, and there have been plenty of new opportunities brought on by this setback as well. There's been an industry-wide shift towards more digital, touchless offerings which suggests that there is an increasingly large market of customers for hotel-related software.

As a matter of fact, the global hotel and hospitality management software market is expected to grow by USD 1.14 billion, at a CAGR of about 5% from now until 2024. And when it comes to online travel booking platforms, specifically, the market size worldwide amounted to roughly 517.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 and is expected to reach approximately 983 billion in 2027.

Types of Hotel Software and Integrations Being Built Today

We've discussed some of the areas that applications and software can be useful in, and we've touched on what the market for this technology looks like. But what kind of apps are currently being built today, and how do they help professionals in the hotel industry? In this section, we'll breakdown some of the most popular application types in development for this industry.

NFC Technology

NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a relatively new technology that allows users to exchange data wirelessly. The data exchange process, called “tagging,” involves placing an NFC-enabled device, such as a smartphone or a smart card, within a few inches of a similarly enabled tag. The smartphone and the tag then exchange data using a low-power, high-frequency radio signal. NFC was initially developed to enable contactless payments, but it has since been adapted for a variety of other purposes. NFC can be used to track assets, send and receive data, and unlock doors.

NFC is ideal for the hotel industry because it allows guests to quickly and easily access their personal information, such as their hotel room number and check-in information. It also allows guests to easily check-in and check-out of their hotel room.

Cybersecurity Technology

Cybersecurity technology refers to any technological solution that helps companies protect their data against threats. This technology includes firewalls, anti-virus programs, and other solutions that aim to prevent data breaches, protect data, and recover data after a breach.

The hospitality industry is facing a plethora of cybersecurity challenges as it faces increasing pressure to keep customer data and guest information safe. By integrating cybersecurity technology as a key component of the hospitality business, the industry can raise its security posture and prevent theft, maintain compliance, and protect guest data.

Building Automation Software

In simple terms, building automation software is an information technology system that automates the operation of a building. The software is used to control systems that manage building security, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). It is also used to control the lighting, fire safety, and other systems that can be installed in buildings.

Building automation software is beneficial for the hotel industry because it eliminates the need for manual tasks, reduces the health risks for hotel employees, and boosts the efficiency of the building.

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AI Technology & Chatbots

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) are two technologies that are gaining traction in the hotel industry. AI is the science of making machines intelligent, and it is already playing a role in hotel operations. AI is appearing in software systems that optimize hotel operations, such as customer service and supply chain. These systems use algorithms to analyze vast amounts of data and make decisions about how to improve hotel revenue and reduce costs. For example, AI is already appearing in hotel inventory systems that monitor and adjust the number and location of hotel rooms to increase occupancy and maximize revenue.

AI is also appearing in customer service applications that help hotel employees respond to customer requests and provide better service. Another hotel-related application of AI is the use of chatbots. Chatbots are computer programs that can engage in basic conversations with people. They can answer common questions about hotel amenities and services and also be used to book rooms and services.

Mobile Key Software

Mobile keys are a digital key technology that replaces physical keys with a smartphone app, and they are a real-time solution to the pain points of traditional key systems. In the hotel industry, there is a need for a solution that can secure guest rooms from theft and vandalism. A guest room access solution that is almost entirely digital also has the potential to boost guest satisfaction and loyalty.

Mobile Keys offer a set of convenient features that can improve hotel operations and guest experience:

  • On-demand room access - Guests can request on-demand access to their rooms using their mobile app, and they work independent of network connectivity.
  • Key card recycling - You can disable keys for guests who have checked out of the hotel.
  • Advanced guest analytics - You can view reports on guest activity and occupancy.
  • Guest feedback - Guests can rate their experiences and provide feedback.
  • Enhanced security - You can set and enforce more stringent security standards (such as PIN and facial recognition) and limit the number of access requests.

Hotel Software System

A hotel software system is a type of product that can help hotels organize their information. It can help users to efficiently manage reservations, create schedules, track inventory, and handle guest requests. The system can also integrate with other software for hotel-specific processes. For example, the system could integrate with financial software to automatically calculate bills and invoices, or it could integrate with customer-relationship management software to help automate customer interactions.

Hotel software system are beneficial for hotels because they can help to increase productivity, improve the efficiency of hotel staff, build a more effective workflow, and maximize asset utilization.

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Predictive Smart System Software

Predictive Smart Systems (PSS) are a collection of cloud-based predictive algorithms that can be used by any business to predict future outcomes and manage daily business processes. These systems use historical data and business rules to predict what the future holds for a company and then recommend actions and changes that will help to ensure company goals and objectives are met.

Predictive Smart Systems can be used to predict when hotel rooms will be booked, which routes are most efficient for drivers, and when to purchase supplies for future hotel guests. This kind of proactive planning can prevent the hotel from running out of supplies and providing less than perfect service to its guests.

Digital Concierge Software

Digital concierge software helps hotel guests to better plan and enjoy their stay. It can automate the booking process and help guests set their preferences for things like room type, check-in time, and dining preferences. This allows the hotel to schedule the right guests in the right rooms for the right times, and it removes a lot of the guesswork for guests.

Additionally, digital concierge are able to make recommendations for nearby attractions, restaurants, and other services. Guests can also use this software to call them a ride to the airport, order them a car service, or rebook their room. Digital concierge software is especially beneficial to the hotel industry because it can improve customer experience, generate leads, increase sales, and reduce support calls.

Smart Parking Software

Smart Parking Spots use digital sensors and artificial intelligence to analyze how an open parking space is being used. The data collected from these smart parking spots helps drivers find open parking spaces and also helps parking lot owners manage their inventory.

If parking spots are paid, this software can also be used to charge car owners directly and allow them to make payments on their mobile devices. They can also communicate with car owners, letting them how long they have left to park, if there's a time limit, and alerting them when their time is running out. Smart parking spots save time by locating available parking spots and reduce congestion caused by drivers circling parking lots looking for spots.

Booking Technology Optimization (BTO)

Booking Technology Optimization (BTO) is a process that can be applied to any eCommerce website to improve sales and online reputation. It primarily uses Google Analytics to identify where traffic is dropping out from the sales process on a website, and then employs a variety of techniques to improve those metrics which include, but are not limited to, the development of an onboarding flow, A/B testing of different landing pages, and analysis of the conversion funnel to identify bottlenecks.

This process is most useful in the hotel industry, where hoteliers are already experiencing increased competition from travel websites like Expedia and Airbnb. BTO helps hoteliers optimize their sales process by identifying where most of their sales are coming from, or not coming from, and then implementing changes to improve the sales funnel. This allows hoteliers to better compete with online travel agencies, and can even allow hoteliers to sell rooms at lower prices than their competition.

Loyalty Program Apps

A loyalty program is a system that rewards customers for their repeat business. It is implemented in a wide variety of industries, but is most common in the hospitality industry. The hotel industry in particular has seen a rapid growth in loyalty program adoption.

Loyalty programs are beneficial because they provide a positive experience for repeat customers. As they stay in the same hotel chain, they are consistently recognized for their loyalty through free upgrades, free WiFi, or even free food. This positive experience builds customer loyalty, increasing the likelihood that the customer will return.

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Features That Hotel Software Should Have

Although there are many considerations to bear in mind, here are some features that you should make sure that you include in any customized software or application for the hotel industry:

  • Device-friendly - Guests use many different devices to book their stay, so hotel applications should be accessible via many different devices,
  • Comprehensive - Hotel applications should provide comprehensive information about hotel amenities, rooms, and location
  • Reservations - Hotel applications should include features that enable guests to make, change, and cancel their reservations easily.
  • Communication - Hotel applications should include features that enable guests to communicate with hotel staff about anything that they may require.
  • Payments - One of the core features that Hotel applications and software should have is the ability to accept payments.
  • Search - The ability to search is an important feature to have in Hotel applications because it allows users to quickly find information that they are looking for, including events, activities, and people.
  • Rate & Review - If you're interested in learning how guests are enjoying their stay, it's important to provide them with an outlet to rate and review your establishment. If these reviews are public, it also provides you with an extra layer of credibility.

Build Custom Hotel Software Solutions with Crowdbotics

As we've addressed, there's still a lot that the hotel industry can do to further streamline their operations. With customized software solutions and applications, hotels can truly step into the future and set themselves apart from their competitors.

Crowdbotics is a full-service app development company with an abundance of experience working with enterprise clients to build the solutions that they need. Whether you're looking for applications to help you streamline your operations or more efficiently handle reservations, hotel staff and inventory, and accounting, we can build the high-quality tools you need 3x faster than manual development. To learn more, get in touch with us today for a detailed estimate!

Originally published:

September 30, 2021