Securing real estate on a user’s mobile phone can be as competitive as securing an apartment in the New York real estate market. So how can hotel brands develop a unique user experience that not only incentivizes downloads, but also improves overall satisfaction during the guest’s stay?

The answer appears to be a combination of frequent updates and App Store tenure. L2’s Hotels: Mobile Innovation report finds a positive correlation between update frequency and App Store rank, as well as between that rank and the app’s age, indicating that brands that were early adopters and maintain consistent upkeep through frequent updates have a clear advantage in driving customer engagement.

Updates vs. rank

Only two Index Brands rank in the top 30 travel apps on the iOS App Store: Hilton Honors and Marriott International. Both are updated as many as 13 times per year, allowing the hotel brands to create a 360-degree experience for the user. New features added through updates include in-app booking, loyalty program management, and keyless entry.

Early entrants to the app space also have an advantage when it comes to achieving a high rank in the App Store. At eight years old, Starwood’s SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts app is the oldest in L2’s study and ranks 34th among travel apps, just outside the top 30. Like its top-performing peers, the app is optimized for multiple devices and includes functionalities beyond booking, such as translation of hotel addresses to local languages and information about nearby restaurants and activities. The SPG is also a parent brand-level app, so it can be used for 1,200 hotels.

When they don’t have an App Store legacy to fall back on, brands can boost consumer interest by optimizing their core functionalities. Radisson RED’s intuitive interface encompasses all of Hilton Honors’ best-in-class features with the addition of a robust locator and a unique chat capability. The chat option enables users to converse with other guests, arrange travel, and garner recommendations, drawing in prospective guests.

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