How On-Demand Apps are Disrupting the Hospitality Industry

There’s an Uber for everything these days. The meteoric rise of the on-demand car service highlighted a growing market that was going unserved. Consumers want flexible service offerings that they can schedule around their busy lives without waiting on hold for a receptionist. Uber proved that on-demand apps were the right tools to meet that need. Now these apps are spreading to other areas. On-demand has proven particularly disruptive in the hospitality industry, where it allows companies to meet the needs of a constantly fluctuating group of customers. The apps are used to facilitate both guest satisfaction and internal operations.

Customer-Facing Solutions

Guest management is a complex process for hotels, especially during peak hours. It involves a mishmash of legacy systems. Housekeeping, front desk, maintenance, reservations, and other departments have management programs that are changed or upgraded at different intervals, leaving plenty of opportunities for guests to fall between the cracks. On-demand apps provide the appearance of a unified front to guests by offering cross-department services in a single location. Guests can schedule what they need, when they need it, without needing to call the front desk. Some of the services available through hotel apps include:
  • Check in and check out: Travel can be unpredictable, and sometimes guests arrive much earlier than they expected. Using an app, they can set text alerts for when their room is ready. (This also gives housekeeping a chance to bump those rooms up in priority.) Once they arrive guests check in through an app and skip the front desk line, stopping only to pick up a pre-made key. Some apps even provide travellers in-app digital room keys to skip that step.
  • Trip adjustments: Discussing changes to a stay over the phone is often confusing to guests, who don’t have the desk clerk’s advantage of a reference screen. Apps solve this problem. Guests can view their current stay dates, audit room charges, check whether their room is available for an extra day, and explore other options if it’s booked.
  • Schedule extras: Through the hotel app, guests can view available dinner times in the restaurant and make reservations from their phone. The same theory applies to the hotel spa- but here, it goes a step further. Hotels have a chance to upsell guests by showing them additional services that fit within their time slot ahead of time.
  • Order service and products: Room service on demand is one of the biggest hits for hotels. Guests can feel awkward about asking for extra towels or calling for pie in the middle of the night. Using an app eliminates the need to explain themselves, which increases overall customer satisfaction. Items can also be ordered poolside without tracking down an employee.
Besides being convenient, on-demand apps add a sense of high-tech luxury popular with business travellers and vacationers alike. They’re being used by business chains and luxury resorts alike. Even cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival have begun offering on-demand apps to keep their passengers happy.

Behind the Scenes Support

On any given day 8.5% of the available jobs in the hospitality and service industries go unfilled. That's $53 billion in potential wages that could be paid. At the same time, unemployment in the hospitality industry was the highest of any industry in 2017 at 6.1%. Clearly, there are jobs and workers to take them. The trick is connecting both parties in a timely manner. Turnover is high, especially in restaurants. Often managers don’t know when they’ll need extra people more than a day or two in advance. As an additional complication, hospitality jobs are heavily season-based. Positions tend to be temporary or gif-based (such as extra workers for a convention). Enter on-demand staffing apps with Uber-style vacancy matching systems. Some of the most successful so far are Jitjatjo, Jobletics, and Wonolo. Companies looking to hire create job listings for workers to accept. Only qualified workers can take a gig; the platforms screen their worker pool to help ensure employer satisfaction. (For reference, Jobletics rejects 90% of applicants so has high reliability rate.) Employers can usually browse through available staff and contact them directly, too. Once a worker accepts, employers pay through the app. There's no tax or human resources burden, and the same workers can be invited to extend their contract within generous limits. Some platforms even offer professional development to help turn short-term gigs into steady work.

Looking Forward

As the technology matures, more features will become standard in on-demand apps. Carnival is piloting a wearable tracker that pairs with their app and analyzes a passenger's movements to suggest future activities. One thing's for sure: the hospitality industry will never be the same.  

Could you be offering your guests more options? Concepta’s developers can help you design an on-demand app to send customer satisfaction rates skyrocketing!

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