How to engage guests and turn hotel apps into a data 'gold mine'

A new study aims to help hotels engage with their guests through apps and shares insights into what makes a guest share their personal information, Travel Pulse reports.

The research by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), the global association for the hospitality trade, has revealed how valuable apps are in terms of customer data. More than a third (34%) of guests are willing to disclose some level of personal information on a hotel app.

A key influencer in whether guests decide to share their data is the app's general trustworthiness as well as how it will benefit the guest overall.

It's a mixed picture when it comes to an app's trustworthiness: 42% of guests trust hotel apps, however another 42% have privacy concerns about this type of app.

Guests are much more willing to disclose information such as their room preference, room amenity preference (pillow type, for example), gender, smoking preference and dining preference. But guests are more reticent when it comes to sharing credit card information, income, driving licence/passport number and geographic location.

What this shows is that the type of personal information requested is a key factor in a guest's compliance with the terms of the app.

Moreover, the majority of guests carry more than one mobile device with them – meaning that hotel apps are a potential gold mine. Although almost a third (32%) of survey respondents said they carry just one mobile device with them, 55% carry two or three mobile devices with them.

The key is to find a hotel app developer who can tap into this 'gold mine' by winning the trust of guests, since this opens to door to valuable marketing information about their browsing habits across multiple different devices, from desktops and laptops to smartphones and tablets.

Commenting on the study, Frank Wolfe, Certified Association Executive and CEO of HFTP Global, said: "Mobile communications is quickly growing as a popular means for hotels to interact with their guests, and this information helps these organisations plan mobile outreach tools."

The study was conducted by report authors Drs Agnes DeFranco and Cristian Morosan of C.N. Hilton College, University of Houston, in April 2014 and involved 317 people who had stayed in a hotel during the previous 12 months.