Following months of lockdown restrictions, the hospitality industry is no doubt amongst the hardest hit. As international and domestic travel demand continues to lag behind, recovery to pre-pandemic levels is not expected to take place until 2023 at the earliest. As of September 1st, almost two-thirds of hotels in the U.S. remain at or below 50 percent occupancy, reinforcing a feeling of cautiousness amongst travelers.
Customers’ needs have changed exponentially since the start of the crisis, as their willingness to travel now depends on safe and convenient ways of accessing products and services. Hotel services typically experienced offline are now more than likely best handled or managed through digital channels – with nearly three quarters of hotel executives agreeing self-service technology will be key to assisting guests while minimizing unnecessary contact. The survival of the hospitality sector now depends on business’ efforts to create a safe and enjoyable guest experience, by identifying existing pain points in the end-to-end customer journey and eliminating them by using the right technologies.
What are App Clips?
App Clips, a new iOS 14 feature created and launched by Apple, is redefining the customer experience and helping to overcome an increasingly complex challenge faced by all businesses alike – settling anxieties over exposure to COVID-19. App Clips – a small part of an overall app experience – allow users to interact with a highly contextual portion of the app, in the exact right moment, without the need for a full download. Users can access App Clips through multiple means, including QR codes, links and Near Field Communication (NFC) tags, and will be presented with an App Clip Card that is matched closely to the experience a user is looking for, based on their needs in a particular location. For example, a user looking to make a purchase will be presented with a different Clip Card than a user who is looking for customer assistance.
How will App Clips impact the hospitality sector?
App Clips are transforming the typically lengthy hotel onboarding process and are set to be a crucial gateway to delivering a ‘high touch, no touch’ service. Prior to arrival, customers can check-in and retrieve their room key via App Clips linked to map location cards on their device. Perhaps the most concerning element of a hotel stay – checking-in – is made avoidable and guests can cruise straight to their room. In supported App Clips, users can also sign in with Apple and make a payment with Apple Pay, which will in turn speed up the check-in experience. No cash or card transactions are required, streamlining the user journey and driving up purchases and interactions.
Companies can also demonstrate they are responsive and helpful by implementing intelligent assistants into the App Clip experience. It has now become non-negotiable for companies to proactively communicate the safety protocols they have in place to protect customers from COVID-19. By levelling up real-time communication, App Clips can have a direct impact on ongoing customer engagement – the cornerstone of business success. The limitations on notifications will have a similar effect, with a reduced chance of user frustration at being repeatedly notified. By having a smooth experience with an App Clip, users should feel more inclined to download the full version of the app for repeat custom and usage. This creates a notion of lifetime value.
The new normal of hospitality
While the industry awaits pent-up demand, hoteliers have a golden opportunity to perfect a superior digital brand experience for customers, with their safety at the heart of all operations. Companies should be looking ahead to a future of contactless travel and investing in technologies that can keep up with what consumers expect from their service under unique and challenging circumstances. By leveraging App Clips effectively, hoteliers can engage with their guests in real-time, and can create seamless experiences that lead to higher conversion, loyalty signup, and repeat stays.