Revolutionizing the Guest Journey: Arrival Experience

Gregg Hopkins

Previously, we explored the technologies in the Inspiration stage and the Purchasing Experience.  Now, let’s delve into the “Arrival Experience” of the guest journey, both the Pre-Arrival and Arrival stages.  A smooth, frictionless arrival experience, including seamless hotel app navigation, will differentiate hotels from the competition and increase guest loyalty.  

Whether mobile or web-based, digital applications (hotel apps) are an increasingly important tool for meeting customers where they are and catering to their communications and engagement preferences. They drive guest selection and booking processes and can deepen loyalty among existing customers.  Hotel apps can also activate new amenities, like keyless entry and contactless payments.

According to leading technology firm Criton, 80% of hotel guests would download a hotel app that enabled them to check in, check out, and get all the information about the hotel when traveling; a 10% increase compared to March 2020.  Based on these experiences, a hotel's credibility increases, which is connected to improving the long-term relationships between hotels and guests.

So, if you’re wondering if you need an app for that … the answer is probably yes.  Here is how digital properties connect with their guests through the hotel app:

  • Booking.  Users can make and manage reservations, share details, and add trips to their calendars.  They can also save favorite hotels and room preferences for future bookings.
  • Mobile check-in.  Guests can use the hotel app to check-in before their stay (sometimes up to 2 days) and arrival at the property.  A popular feature found in a growing number of hotel apps is the ability for the guest to choose their room with the option to add specific attributes (e.g., fireplace, view, etc.) for an additional fee (think “attribute-based selling”).  The hotel app sends a notification when rooms are ready, and guests can use a mobile key to skip the front desk if they choose.  They can also get information about property amenities and opt out of housekeeping to “go green.”  Some properties “reward” their guests for opting out with frequent flier miles or complimentary food and beverages.
  • Mobile keys.  Recent surveys revealed that 73 percent of guests would download and use a hotel app to open their room's door.  When a room is ready, a mobile key is delivered to a guest’s phone (or, with some brands, their Apple Watch).  Mobile keys can enter sleeping rooms, parking garages, and other guest areas.  The hotel app also includes maps and directions to help guests find their room.
  • Chat.  A chat feature connects guests to staff, or chatbots, for answers about the property and local area. This feature is also valuable for a common platform to enable staff-to-staff communications.
  • Guest requests. The hotel app's request feature gives guests a list of amenities to customize their stay, like extra blankets or pillows.  The app also lets guests request housekeeping services, extra toiletries, or luggage assistance.
  • Food and beverage.  Guests can browse menus and order food—even if they’re not in their room.  They can choose a delivery time and place, like a hotel conference room or poolside.  The Criton survey also reported that 47% said they would be more likely to order in-room service or to go to the hotel restaurant if they could use a mobile app to place their order.
  • Maximize revenues.  Hotels can analyze user data and preferences to send personalized offers and promotions directly to app users.  For example, if guests frequently book spa treatments, the hotel app can notify them about a discounted package or last-minute availability.  These tailored offers generate additional revenue and create a sense of exclusivity and value for the guest.  Other examples include late check-out, early check-in, upgraded room (e.g., rooms categories with a better view, larger suites, or in-room amenities like a soaker tub or balcony, in-room food and beverage), especially stocked mini bar, chilled champagne, bottles of wine, or a fruit basket, and reservations for activities, golf, restaurants, and other property venues.
  • Local travel.  Live maps and traffic information help guests navigate their surroundings.  Guests can also track airport shuttles and see estimated wait times.
  • Language barriers.  It is common for hotels to receive guests from all around the globe, and with a hotel app that supports various languages, it is possible to avoid miscommunication and help the staff deliver better service.  It is sometimes complicated for international tourists to have a direct experience regarding their destinations, so they usually gather necessary information through web searches and social media insights.  A hotel app provides a personalized space where guests would be privy to detailed destination information about their stay.  Hotel app content can help international tourists customize their travel plans, and by introducing various tour package programs with pictures that encourage guests to experience local culture, foods, and historical sites, the application can encourage more international travel.
  • Account management.  Guests can edit and update their profiles in the hotel app.  They can also manage email subscriptions and loyalty programs, see booking history, and request priority services or late checkouts.
  • Loyalty management.  The hotel app tracks a hotel brand’s guest loyalty program, too.  Users can instantly earn and redeem points on the property or at participating restaurants.

I often ask, “With all the advancements in hotel technology in the pre-arrival and arrival stage, why do we still have the traditional front desk?  Is it time for hotels to rethink their purpose?”

Useful technology tools for the Hotels at the Pre-Arrival and Arrival stages:

  • Connected Customer Relationship Management system to your Property Management System and hotel app to deliver personalization, communications, and consistent service to loyal customers.
  • Hotel apps are an extension of your front desk, concierge staff, booking agents, housekeeping, transportation, and food and beverage teams.  They deliver a consistent, on-brand response and engage with guests exactly how and when they want to be served.
  • Ability to reserve, in advance, hotel amenities such as restaurants, golf, spa, and other events and activities available at the property via an integrated Internet Booking Engine.
  • The property management system (PMS) facilitates a hotel's reservation management and administrative tasks. Critical functions include front-desk operations, reservations, channel management, housekeeping, rate and occupancy management, and payment processing.

Are you interested in learning more?  This article is the fourth in a series on the technology components in each of the guest journey's seven (7) phases. Follow Get Hoppy Consulting on LinkedIn for updates, or email me at to discuss your organization’s tech.


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