It’s so weird, you hardly see any travel start-ups here in a tourism country while there are dozen ones in Indonesia… Eventually I found some, so we can get their thougthts about the tourism industry. Please follow the conversation between Mike Darnell, VP of Appy Hotel and me.
Is Appy founder’s background related to hotel industry?
Our previous experience with hospitality is thanks to JP’s home automation company iHome, which works often with hotels seeking to upgrade their guest experience by offering smart home technologies integrated into the property. Working with the hardware side of things made it very obvious that there’s a big gap insofar as software is concerned as well.
Any traction you can share? And how big is this market?
To date we’ve had over 1,500 hotels sign up to use Appy Hotel, but this is a drop in the sea. According to industry accepted statistics there are about 500,000 hotels in the world, ad this number specifically excludes motels, guest houses, bed-and-breakfasts, hostels, etc.
What are the top three advantages for hotels if they use Appy?
The primary advantage that Appy Hotel offers hotels is a boost in REVPOR (Revenue per occupied room) – Hotels tend to be very good at getting you to book a stay, but funnily enough, once you’re in the property they do a really crappy job of communicating with you regarding the amenities and services they offer. This is actually really strange since unlike booking, where OTAs are taking increasingly painful chunks out of profits, with in-house service sales (i.e. getting a guest to order a sandwich, cocktail, Spa treatment, etc.) margins are very high and there’s no need to share them with anyone.Hotels can sell more with Appy
Appy Hotel serves as a digital brochure for the hotel’s restaurants, Spa, room service and other amenities. Guests can book and order services directly from their smartphones or tablets, regardless of where they’re located.
Two more important features much loved by hoteliers are the Feedback and Survey sections of the app. Allowing guests to submit private feedback to the hotel via the app enables GMs to respond to issues in real-time and prevents situations from escalating into negative Tripadvisor reviews.
And similar question for travelers
The benefits travelers can expect from the app vary from hotel to hotel – Some hotels offer special promotions that are only available via the app, others choose to include useful and interesting tour and travel information in their app, allowing guests to use the app in order to plan an engaging and enjoyable itinerary. Regardless of the particulars that are specific to every property, Appy Hotel offers guests a new and convenient way to interact with the property they’re staying in, from the device of their preference. Appy Hotel puts that hotel at your fingertips, in the most literal sense possible.
Why should a guest install a new app if they just stay in a hotel for only one trip?
One of the important differences between a website and an app, is that an app’s usefulness is often strongly tied to the time and location data it pulls from a user’s device, and Appy Hotel is no different in this respect. Those guests who prefer using apps to get things done, will use Appy Hotel as their preferred means of communicating with the hotel regardless of how long they’re staying, and as smartphone adoption become ubiquitous, the proportion of these out of the total guest population will keep increasing.
How can hoteliers know about Appy?
Hoteliers usually learn about us through a number of channels: a fair amount of our traction comes directly via our website from hoteliers who are researching the web for app solutions for their hotels. Some hear about us from colleagues in the industry – we’ve had a fair deal of coverage in various professional hospitality publications both on the web and in print. Finally we have a growing network of distribution partners. These are usually companies already providing services to hospitality sector clients within their region, and Appy Hotel compliments their existing service/product lineup.
How can a guest find Appy’s hotel app?
Appy Hotel is free to download from the App store and Play store. Guests usually learn their hotel has an app from a number of sources: most hotels advertise their apps via their website and as part of their booking confirmation email standard text. Furthermore hoteliers can access their Appy Hotel dashboard to download a Appy Hotel certificate which they can then place on the front desk, at the concierge station, and in other points of interest in the hotel.
Some hotels use tent top cards in the rooms to notify guests about the existence of the app while others use their wifi login page for the same purpose.
Which countries are you targeting now?
For this year we’ll retain focus on Asia, Europe and the Middle East, simply because we have sales and support agents in those areas. The next step will be setting up an office on the West coast of the USA to support our clients there.
And what is the most challenging part of Appy in the next six months?
The biggest challenge we’re facing is the general tendency for conservatism in the hospitality industry.
As a rule hotels are slow adopters of technology and they require a great deal of hand holding and education before they understand the value, and are able to successfully deploy an app so that it really changes their revenue picture. We’re addressing this issues with a series of Google Hangouts where we’re sharing the knowledge and experience we’ve accumulated with our existing clients.