How Hotel Phone Apps are Competing with Expedia

September 10, 2015
Christina Nguyen
4 min read

Times are good to be a traveler right now as hotels are competing harder than ever to get your business. The biggest chains have embraced the app world making it easier to handle room reservations straight from your phone, skip the check-in line, and more. 

Hotels see Expedia as Booking Mongrel

Word has been spreading about the ravenous growth of Expedia and it’s aim to get even bigger. You may have heard by recent articles in the last few weeks, such as this one in The New York Times last week, that Expedia aims to merge with Orbitz in a $1.3 billion deal. Over the years Expedia has grown to be a standard name when it comes to traveling. From booking the flight to the hotel room, Expedia is the go-to as often as the microwave is for a cup of noodles. With the company growing in power, hotels are fighting back harder now to offer a more attractive booking experience. When hotels have you stay through a third party website they make little profit to just breaking even. Hotels use this route for their run of the house rooms knowing these websites receive high browsing traffic for the lowest rates. With Expedia merging with more and more booking companies, (swallowing up Travelocity in January this year) they will soon hold a monopoly on price-naming for room rates. This is bad news all around as ultimately the consumer pays the higher price. Now hotel chains such as Hilton and Hyatt have adapted to the smartphone world and are making our lives as travelers much easier.

Hotels Want In On Your Phone

Developers worked tirelessly to come up with the best phone app to date.

The hotel phone app isn’t a new coming as the Hilton app has been around since 2009. Customer reception, however, was less than enthused for years. A customer review once mentioned that you can’t actually cancel the reservation through the app itself but have to go back to the main website through the honors website. Recent updates seem to show otherwise and so much more. They have completely embraced the technological world, making the latest update easy to use and of luxurious convenience. The Hilton application allows you to book the room, view and modify upcoming stays, even customize your stay with their Request Upon Arrival service to pre-order ammenities. As mentioned in our front desk tips post, booking directly through the hotel is especially beneficial in case you need to cancel your reservation—something that sites like Expedia won’t offer.

Pick the location of your room from your phone!

Reviews for the hotel app have been quite positive lately and the company is striving for constant improvement. One of the most attractive features is that you can use the app to skip the line at check-in and use a digital key straight from your phone. Afterall, we all just want to get in and start the adventure, right? Another recent feature is the ability to show or hide your room number. This can make things easier when group traveling and need to share where you are staying with others, or to help maintain a stronger level of privacy if you don’t want your group to know. Although Hilton is the leading frontrunner in the hotel app race, Hyatt also has their own app with similar features and more. The Hyatt app has teamed up with Uber and allows you to request a ride to your Hyatt destination!

Being a member means they treat you like royalty.

With the inovation of the many extra perks of phone apps, the hotel chains are really trying to push their membership rewards program as well. For Hilton, if you do decide to download the app, don’t get the regular Hilton Hotels app as it looks like the company is going to end it and combine all the features into the Hilton HHonors app. Does a membership deter you away? For a lot people it does. But don’t be afraid to sign up for these programs because these memberships are made to be attractive to customers so they build loyalty and aren’t booking through places like Expedia. There’s a reason why Gold Passport members account for around 70% of Hyatt revenue per year. These programs are free to start and only cost an annual fee if you wish to maintain a special tier status. When you earn enough points you can trade them for a free or discounted stay depending on the category of the location you wish to visit. Right now until the end of September, if you book through Hyatt’s mobile app and sign up for Gold Passport you can earn 500 points. It may not sound like much as the lowest category requires 5,000 points for a free night stay, but members really do treat these points like gold. (Get it? Gold!) Even when you only travel once every other year, these points can really add up when you stick to the same chain. But keep in mind if you book through Expedia, even if you’re already a rewards member, that discounted rate will not go towards earning points.  Bonus tip: if something isn’t satisfactory during your stay, politely speak to the front desk about it and request to be rewarded points as opposed to any other type of compensation.

If you were ever thinking of joining one of these reward programs, there would be no better time than now with the Expedia monster growing by the minute. Beside Hilton and Hyatt, there are also smaller chains following right behind with their own phone apps such as Starwood and IHG.  We hope the latest news of the cutting edge phones apps will bring you happy travels. Keep visiting the WeTravel blog for more news and stories.