The year is 1994. As reported by Business Insider, “Apple's ill-fated Newton PDA was actually the first device to sport a mobile web browser. Of course, it wasn't able to browse full HTML web pages on its black and white screen.” But, as the article’s author Steve Kovach stated, “it was a start.”
Soon after, in 1997, the Nokia 6110 included the basic arcade game “Snake” in a built-in application, which is widely thought to be the first native app.
It was then and there that a race was kicked off. The only question left: which approach would become the predominant way for people to engage with mobile technology in the future?
Flash forward nearly three decades, and we have our answer. Though native apps have their unique advantages, most consumers only actively engage with a small number of them on their devices. This has led many consumer brands to pursue web-based solutions that are more readily accessible from the browser of a smartphone or a tablet and do not require the friction of an app download.
Hotels and resort properties are especially prone to reap the benefits of web-based solutions accessed through a smartphone’s browser (commonly referred to as “web apps”, though for the purposes of clarity, we will continue to use “web-based solutions” in this blog post), as they provide a direct way for guests to engage with the property throughout their journey without ever taking the obtrusive step of downloading a native app.
The Challenge for Native Apps at Hotels
In theory, there is nothing wrong with a native app that needs to be downloaded onto a device. Traditionally, they have offered more functionality and deeper integrations with the features and functions of smartphone and tablet devices. But in recent years, web-based solutions — have caught up in many areas of functionality and have always bested native apps in immediate accessibility.
Bluntly put, native apps require a download and that is far too much for even your most loyal of hotel customers to want to deal with — statistically, they don’t even engage with most of the ones they have. According to research by comScore, 90% of a user’s mobile app time is spent within just five apps — notably, none of which are oriented specifically for hotel guests. Though these numbers should make every hotelier think twice about investing in native app technology, there is a far more concrete reason to opt for a web-based approach.
The data makes it clear. If your property decides to invest in a native app, you’re extremely likely to be catering to the preferences of only a tiny fraction of your guests. Everyone else likely feels inconvenienced, if not mildly annoyed.
Why Hotel Guests (& Staff) Love Web-Based Solutions
One of the most beautiful things about the world wide web is it only takes one native app to access a fantastical amount of information and robust digital services. This app is called a mobile web browser and has the innate benefit over all other native apps to be included on a device at the time it is purchased.
Chrome, Safari and Samsung Internet are the most commonly used web browsers, and all three support a wide range of ways that web-based solutions can interact with the features of a smartphone (e.g., camera, microphone, etc.).
When added together, these two factors enable technology vendors, like Canary, to deliver extremely engaging digital experiences for hotel guests with very low barriers to adoption.
The Adoption Rate of Web-Based Hotel Tech Solutions
Reportedly, even the top hotel brands see less than 15% of all guests engage with native apps they have created. App development is a costly affair, and these sub-par adoption rates have been known to leave hoteliers feeling frustrated for their efforts.
Conversely, mobile-friendly web-based solutions that do not require a download generally see guest adoption rates of 50-75%. When you do the math, that works out to 3-5X more guests using mobile web-based solutions than native apps.
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