"Some pundits declared Apple Wallet’s new functionality would lead to the demise of the hotel mobile app."
Quote from Nadav Cornberg, co-founder of Virdee, in an article on PhocusWire this week on Apple Wallet updates.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered by PhocusWire that week.
The travel industry has long been aware of the need to digitize the traveler experience. Then came the coronavirus pandemic, magnifying existing gaps and forcing providers from all sectors to reevaluate how they use technology to make the traveler journey safer and seamless.
Contactless solutions became paramount, and – despite the airborne nature of the virus – many travelers want or expect hands-free to be the norm moving forward.
This applies especially to hotel stays, where even prior to the pandemic, guests were eager to avoid the check-in desk and retire to their rooms as quickly as possible following a long day of travel.
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Apple Wallet’s new functionality, which uses NFC technology to issue hotel guests a room key without the need to download an app, is indeed, as Cornberg says, “a significant step toward simplifying the mobile check-in process for guests.”
But an additional tool in a hotelier or traveler’s toolbox does not eliminate the need for similar solutions – in this case, the hotel mobile app.
In fact, the Apple Wallet update may increase mobile app adoption once a consumer experiments with the touchless feature.
As Cornberg notes, hotel apps provide a variety of functionalities beyond simply storing a room key. Hotel mobile apps can serve as a digital concierge, allowing guests to communicate with staff, control in-room features like lighting and order room service – all contact-free.
Many guests may not even know this, and using the Apple Wallet key as a starting point may inspire them to get more out of their stay by also downloading the hotel app.
Critically, hoteliers need to clearly communicate all their digital offerings to guests. Now more than ever, travelers are craving information and solutions. Smart hoteliers will figure out how to deliver.
PhocusWire's regular editorials