Los Angeles (the City of Angels) is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the US. In 2018. The city saw a record visitation of about 50 million, including 42.5 local tourists and 6.5 million international tourists.
Such a record visitation to the city of Los Angeles has led to a considerable rise in the hotel and tourism industry. The recent pandemic made a significant impact on the industry, and according to Statista, hotel, and motel sectors in the United States saw a decline of about 45%. It has also affected the livelihoods of several people from LA county. According to this tweet back in March this year, you can see the impact pandemic has on the industry.
However, can hotel and tourism app development in Los Angeles can help the industry in these testing times, and beyond the pandemic?
So, let’s start by understanding the problem at hand!
Why do the Hotels and Tourism Industry in LA need an app?
California has a four-tier system to handle the COVID situation where the counties have color codes according to the virus’s spread. As shown below, LA county is currently under the widespread tier, and there are certain restrictions for economic activities. The hotel and tourism industry has some relief as there is a restriction of 10 PM to 5 AM only for guests to be on the streets.
The recent pandemic has forced the hotel and tourism industry to look for innovative operational capabilities that do not need physical contact. In such cases, a mobile app agency can help hotels and tourism industries to create smarter solutions that help in reducing the physical touchpoints.
LA is a tourist attraction for many reasons. There are great places like Santa Monica, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and others. Apart from the tourist attractions like the famous Hollywood sign or Disneyland park, and even Griffith Park, LA’s food has a special place for the visitors to the city of angels.
From Earle’s hotdog to Joe’s falafel, and those lox bagel sandwiches topped with well-smoked salmon from Poppy and Rose, LA’s food is just great on your tasting buds.
What if you can check-in through your smartphone, order food from an in-app menu, and even access the room through the app? In the current scenario, guests look for a hotel with the utmost precautionary infrastructure to reduce contraction risk. A mobile application for your hotel and tourism industry can boost customers’ confidence.
Before discussing different aspects of hotel and tourism app development for your firm in Los Angeles, let’s discover the business model?
Hotel & Travel app business model
Here, we are discussing different aspects of a hotel and tourism app business model. The first thing that helps any business develop a product is ideation, which comes from defining a problem.
If you are into the hotel business in Los Angeles, California, or even a travel business, the problem definition will need you to think about the customer’s experience. There is no doubt the pandemic has forced the hand of most companies to look for unique solutions. While defining your business app’s problem, look towards the larger picture, or how will these apps be fruitful even post COVID?
For example, if you consider including a feature for your guests to have digital access to their rooms with apps, you should easily design the security system to scale. So, even after the pandemic, when your business scale increases, the infrastructure is already in place to handle it.
Apart from the no-contact solution for your business, look towards the time element. For example, a travel booking app compares all the flight prices and provides the best according to your budget, preference, and location. It can reduce the browsing time of consumers for booking the right flight.
So, your solution’s focus should be to make the customer journey more enhanced and time-saving. The solution needs to elaborately address the kind of issues that tourists and guests face while traveling or visiting your hotel.
Before creating the right solution for your business, you need to consider all the stakeholders and their value. For example, a travel booking app will have stakeholders like the tourist, travel agency, airport authorities, and even the cab aggregation companies that may assist your customers in reaching hotels.
The tourism and hotel industry in Los Angeles has been at the forefront of the economic surge before the pandemic. So, there are many options for generating revenues. With a hotel and tourism app development, you can enable several revenue streams in a city like Los Angeles. Let’s discuss the revenue streams a hotel and travel business can generate with a mobile application.
Hotels can partner with local producers and flea markets to have a separate products page. The guests at your hotel can experience their products at your hotel and instead of going to the local market, buy it from the hotel itself.
For example, your guests love antiques. So, you can partner with some flea markets like Wilshire coin or Sunbeam to have a few stalls at the hotel itself.
Whether you are a small loft or a big hotel, a staycation is a great revenue generation concept. It is a great way to attract people living in nearby counties of Los Angeles city. You can even create a marketplace like Airbnb in Los Angeles, where rental properties are offered to guests with a mobile app development company.
The agency model explores the online travel agency as a mediator between consumers and travel industry operators. Expedia and Priceline are an example of such business platforms.
The merchant model allows people to book and pay for services like hotel rooms or flights through the agency’s mobile app. Here, online agencies work as a hotel room aggregator by booking several rooms at wholesale rates.
Unique Value Proposition(UVP)
A UVP is all about the value you provide your consumers with your product. A hotel and tourism app should offer convenience, flexibility, and easy access to services. The key here is the features of your mobile applications and on-site support for them.
As a part of the business model, it is essential to set metrics to measure your solution’s performance. It can be average users who visit your app per month, the total hotel room bookings or flight bookings per month.
A mobile application is the first thing that will come to your mind when you think of engaging the customers. Still, there are other platforms like electronic media and social media to strategize.
Once you have your business model in place, the next step is to decide on the features you need to add to your hotel and travel mobile application to gauge the entire development plan, budget, and resources.
Top features to build in hotel & travel applications
When deciding what features you can add to your mobile application or even a web app, considering a user’s difficulties should be at the center stage. It depends on the kind of problem definition and what value your solution can provide. So, let’s discuss features that you can add to a hotel business app.
Hotel App Features-
Room Booking Feature
Here, we are going to discuss a hotel app feature for room booking. Whether you are an independent hotel like the famous Orlando hotel or a brand hotel like JW Marriott Los Angeles, a professional mobile app can better engage the guests.
Things that you can include in your room booking features are,
- Room preferences
- AR/VR feature for a 360-degree view of the rooms
- Chatbots to know the taste of consumers
- Recommendation AI(Artificial Intelligence) Engine to offer the best deals
It is a feature that can be innovative and more convenient for guests. Hospitality is all about convenience, and with this feature, the guests can be received through the app. The reception desks can have a smart interface instead of humans that punch in their details when guests scan a QR code from the interface screen. Next, the allotted room and a digital access key can be allocated in the app.
Such a smart feature may look costly in the initial setup, but it can help make the customer journey more enhanced in the long run, especially for hotels with a high rush of guests throughout the year.
In-app Digital Keys
There are endless possibilities that an app can provide to your digital room pass for customers. You can assign digital QR code-based features, facial recognition, and even a fingerprint scan feature.
A mobile app’s beauty is that you don’t need to have separate technology infrastructures as almost all smartphones have such features. All you need is the right mobile app developer for your hotel in Los Angeles and create smarter digital access features for rooms.
“Food is the gateway to heart” But what if the gateway is through a professionally designed mobile app? You can offer in-app restaurant menus for your hotel guests and even partner with on-demand delivery aggregators if you don’t have an in-house food facility.
Hotels can leverage technology stack from professional app development companies to create menus in the application and other features like user reviews and food preference. It is a great way to induce a no-contact policy into your hotel, especially in times of COVID. But, yet this feature can be useful even after the pandemic.
In-app Room Services
Room services are often a single dial away from your hotel room. But, what if you can choose to order different room services from your smartphone? In these times, when social distancing norms are essential for your guest’s confidence and health, an in-app room service feature is simply a great option.
You can add room services like,
- House cleaning
- Salon & Spa
- Emergency Healthcare
- Food orders
Convenience of Payment
Online payments are a great way to ensure the convenience of your guests. You can go ahead and allow your customers to pay for different services like food, beverages, salons, and others. There are more innovative ways to imbibe payment options in your hospitality apps these days; for example, Shopify allows blockchain as a payment option. You can also add different payment gateways through third-party APIs(Application Programming Interface).
Reviews and Recommendations
Guest reviews are im[ortant for you to improve on your services, and with a mobile app or web application, you can be creative about recommendations and reviews. The best practice is to introduce more intuitive ways of reviews that engage consumers.
Travel App Features-
Flight booking Apps
Any travel business can imbibe features like curated flight recommendations, chatbots to assist bookings, and combos that offer flight plus hotel rooms. Customers can set locations through in-app maps, flight class like economy or business, and even book airport lounge access with this feature. You can also add features like digital boarding passes, tickets, and other such airport documentation in the app.
Customers can book private or public transport through this feature. As a travel business in Los Angeles, you will get many on-demand transport companies for partnerships. There are more than 55 on-demand transport services, and even the Los Angeles Metro uses one of them to help their customers in the three busiest transit stations. Customers can easily book cabs, public transportation, luggage transport, and other services through your app with this feature.
With this feature, you can help customers customize their tour packages. Here, mobile app developers can help you with innovations like voice recognition and Machine Learning to design the packages that offer the best touring experience in Los Angeles. You can even include features like Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality to provide virtual tours for your customers.
Apart from the online payment options like debit cards, credit cards, wallets, and even cryptocurrencies, you can also offer easy installment options for tour packages by partnering with fintechs.
Now that we have some idea about unique features that you can add to your hospitality apps, let’s discover how to create one?
How to make a hotel and travel app?
From the market assessment to the final launch of your hospitality app, everything needs thorough planning. A professional tech partner will analyze your existing hotel and travel business to help you with wireframing, app development, MVP, and marketing.
The Market Research
Market research will allow you to identify the features competitors use, user difficulties, and the problem. It also will enable hotels and travel businesses to know the critical touchpoints to cover in their solution.
For example, Beverly Hills is one of the most famous localities in Los Angeles, with Hollywood’s posh surroundings. Now, thinking of boutique hotel features for your hospitality app in Beverly Hills makes sense, but will it be feasible for downtown LA? That is where you need proper market research.
Features & Costing
The market research will help you identify features to a certain level, but your tech partner will allow you to understand the feasibility. Any hospitality app can have several components, but it’s essential to gauge their amiability with your existing business.
For example, think of a travel app where guests can book flights, hotel rooms, airport transfers, and even food on the go. Now, if you are to include a feature, say digital boarding pass, you will need to offer highly secure and unique identification to each user. Identifying the scale and infrastructure needs for a feature becomes essential for your business.
Another critical aspect of identifying the features is the costing part. The cost of hotel and travel business app development in a city like Los Angeles depends on several factors. It varies depending on the mobile app agency and the kind of features you want to include.
Take an example of a travel app that offers virtual vacations with an AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality). The development process for such complex features may increase the cost of the hospitality app.
The Technology Stack
A tech-stack includes all the necessary digital product elements, consisting of websites, web applications, and mobile apps for stakeholders. For example, if you plan a hospitality app development, there should be apps for users, hotel management, different departments, and security personnel.
Once you get the idea of what should be there in your technology stack, the development process can be divided into phases, and the first phase should be to create an MVP.
Minimum Viable Product(MVP)
MVP’s concept is simple, to create a “shippable” product, and include feedback in the further iterations up to a point where you believe the app is ready to be launched. A beta version of the hospitality app will help you test different features and improve the app in newer versions. As you iterate several versions, valuable feedback can be included to create the final product.
App Promotion & Marketing
Once you are ready with the hospitality app, marketing becomes quintessential. Several platforms promote an app these days, like social media, mobile marketing, advertising, print media, and even local businesses. The focus of your campaigns must align with the features of your app to render results.
The conventional hospitality industry is transitioning into an era of digitization. With the pandemic, the transition towards this digital era has seen an enormous leap. Though developing a hospitality app can certainly help you survive through the COVID-19 situation, it becomes critical to think outside the box and look beyond the pandemic. From the business model’s standpoint to developing a hospitality app, everything depends upon planning and execution, and that is where a tech partner offers value.