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How Mobile Apps Are Transforming Hospitality in 2024

In the dynamic and ever-changing world of hospitality, travel companies constantly face challenges in providing guests with a premium experience. Maintaining a successful operation requires…

In the dynamic and ever-changing world of hospitality, travel companies constantly face challenges in providing guests with a premium experience. Maintaining a successful operation requires agility and a willingness to evolve, yet many hotels have failed to keep pace with their peers. This assertion is not based on mere speculation.

For our project with MGM, Fueled spent months conducting interviews with hotel guests, casual visitors, top-tier loyalty program members, on-the-ground resort staff, and a range of corporate stakeholders. We also gathered quantitative research and reviewed past MGM reports to develop significant conclusions. This comprehensive research highlighted three key areas where much of the industry is falling behind.

Lack of Personalization

The traditional playbook of linear guest experiences has lost its effectiveness. Guests that choose to spend their time at a particular location want to feel like they are more than just a number.

In a time where we now have an abundance of information and data available, personalization can go deeper than ever. This data can be used to tailor services, create targeted offers, and ensure that every touchpoint resonates with the individual guest.

Despite the availability of this data, a significant number of hospitality companies still struggle to leverage it for meaningful personalization. By not tailoring their services to individual guest preferences, hotels miss out on creating memorable and unique experiences.

Cumbersome Check-in/out Processes

Traveling is stressful and tiring. When guests arrive, they want nothing more than to settle into their rooms and unwind. A drawn out check-in experience that leaves guests mulling around the lobby with their luggage leaves a very unsatisfactory first impression.

As lines and frustration among guests grow, so will the need for more staff to attend to them. Another key finding of our interviews was an industry-wide staffing shortage. Making the most of the limited staff is a massive priority, yet many in the hospitality industry lack creativity in addressing this issue.

Bottlenecks like this mean service suffers across the board. Less staff are available to attend guests, solve their problems, and improve their stay. The ripple effect of inefficiency goes far beyond just the check-in process.

An interview quote from one of Fueled's users explaining his frustration with difficult hotel check-in's.

Lagging Loyalty Programs

Another missed opportunity for enhancing guest experiences is the underutilization of hotel loyalty programs. Guests miss out on opportunities that they didn’t even know were available. Hotel loyalty programs can greatly benefit guests, and the industry alike. Despite this fact, adoption rate and sign-ups for these programs are nowhere near where the industry wants.

A significant barrier to loyalty program adoption is friction in the onboarding process coupled with a lack of immediate value. Guests often perceive loyalty program sign-up as an unnecessary extra step, especially when they don’t see immediate or even short-term incentives for onboarding. Many hotel loyalty programs fail to offer rewards that are interesting or exciting enough to motivate guests to sign up.

An interview quote from one of Fueled's users explaining his confusion with how to use hotel loyalty program points.

The Power of Mobile Solutions in Hospitality

Recent data demonstrates the readiness and preference to embrace mobile apps in the hospitality industry. According to a study by Criton, a staggering 73% of respondents expressed their willingness to download a hotel app, with nearly two-thirds preferring to check in and out through such an app.

Despite this clear demand, only 38% of respondents said that they currently use hotel apps. This highlights a significant gap between customer expectations, and the industry's offerings. Merely developing an app isn’t enough to convince customers to download – it must provide real value to their stay.

While specific examples like MGM Resorts International’s digital transformation demonstrate a mobile experience that provides real value, the potential for mobile technology extends far beyond any single entity. Here are just a few examples of how mobile solutions can address the main issues guests and the industry face:

On-Demand, On-Site Mobile Check-In

Convenient mobile check-in systems remove a massive, time consuming barrier for guests. This solution allows guests to bypass the check-in line and go straight to their rooms. Gone are the days of waiting in long lines at the front desk; guests can now check in from anywhere on the property, even before arriving.

Additionally, a mobile check-in system can be used as a tool to drive further revenue. In the very same screen where guests check-in, hotels can present guests with the option for room upgrades, early check-ins, or late check outs. This once again presents guests with information and the autonomy to shape their own stay.

A phone display in an upscale hotel room showcasing on demand check-in features.

Digital Room Keys

Digital room keys integrated into mobile apps can further streamline the guest experience by eliminating the need for physical keycards. This can enhance the guest experience but also improve operational efficiency. By reducing the need for physical check-in, hotels can allocate their staff to more critical areas, improving overall service quality.

A phone near a hotel room door showcasing mobile key cards.

Personalized Content and Recommendations

By leveraging location and itinerary data, apps can offer personalized suggestions for attractions, events, and dining. This feature acts as a digital concierge, curating a list of recommendations tailored to the guest's preferences and schedule. Whether it's suggesting a nearby restaurant for dinner or alerting guests to a local event they might enjoy, these personalized suggestions provide valuable, timely information to guests.

For instance, a guest interested in art could receive suggestions for nearby galleries or art exhibitions happening during their stay. Or, if a guest has a free afternoon, the app might recommend a relaxing spa service available at the hotel. This personalized, targeted approach elevates the guest experience and maximizes revenue opportunities. Guests can explore and utilize the wide range of offerings available within a property’s own ecosystem.

A phone display in a hotel lobby showcasing personalized activity suggestions.

Loyalty Program Integration

One simple way to remove friction in loyalty program onboarding is by combining it with the mobile check-in process. Oftentimes the data needed for check-in and a loyalty program registration are nearly identical, but exist separately. This means a seamless sign up process with no added work for the guest.

Furthermore, mobile can clearly communicate the value of your loyalty program. As guests onboard you can easily provide them with information in the app on loyalty program offerings, methods to reach these offerings, and more. Screens within a mobile solution can indicate progress towards receiving perks and make benefits more tangible.


The integration of mobile apps into guest stays creates a powerful feedback loop where each function builds upon the last. Each feature listed above not only serves its own purpose, but also compliments and enhances others.

For example, the convenience of mobile check-in eliminates the need for physical lines and also seamlessly integrates with digital room keys. Moreover, the process of mobile check-in can be leveraged as an opportunity to onboard guests to the hotel's loyalty program.

The presence of useful features such as mobile check-in and room keys naturally draws guests to the app, increasing their likelihood of exploring other offerings within the platform. As guests become more engaged with the platform, they are more likely to discover personalized content and recommendations that cater to their interests and schedule.

In conclusion, the development of a mobile app for hospitality is not just about implementing individual features – it’s about creating a holistic experience where each functionality complements and enhances the last.

Interested in how Fueled can transform your hotel's digital experience?



Criton Hospitality Survey

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