Building up brand loyalty to the point where customers are minded to book direct through a chain’s app is a twin challenge that will require hotels to significantly change customer behaviour.
Both in the E.U. and North America, around one in five will download their app, but only one in 20 will book through it. "Not making yourself visible on third-party sites also cuts down on the chances of someone discovering you on another site and then looking you up to book direct,” said Rick Garlick, global practice lead for travel and hospitality at market researcher JD Power.
The hotel brands are right in seeing the mobile app as a means of improving customer experience, he added, because the research firm has found high customer satisfaction ratings are linked to an app users find useful. However, he warns technology might not be the only answer because helpful staff and great customer service are always the best ways to build strong loyalty.
Garlick also pointed out how, in America, most hotels are part of a branded chain and customers like a predictable “cookie-cutter” experience. The same does not apply in the E.U., particularly the U.K. In Britain, fewer than half of hotels are part of a well-known chain, so customers tend to be less brand-conscious.
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