[Credit: HolidayHero]

How guest app technology is growing rapidly in the STR industry

Netherlands: Sjeel Koster, CEO and co-founder of HolidayHero, explores the rapid adoption of guest app technology in the short-term rental space, and how the shift has been preceded by innovations across the hospitality landscape.

Technological innovations have consistently reshaped how guests interact with their accommodations in the ever-evolving hospitality landscape. This shift was first observed in the hotel industry, where major chains like Marriott, Hilton and Accor embraced guest app technology to elevate guest experiences and optimise operational efficiency.

While these advances were groundbreaking, they were accompanied by substantial costs and the necessity for specialised development skills.

However, the game-changing entry of software-as-a-service [SaaS] solutions, such as HolidayHero [which raised €500,000 in pre-seed funding last October], has democratised this technology for all players in the hospitality field, including the burgeoning short-term rental [STR] sector.

Leading hotel chains recognised the potential of guest app technology early on and invested significantly in developing and implementing their own apps. These apps offered a range of conveniences to guests, from seamless check-ins to personalised room preferences, enhancing overall guest satisfaction.

However, the impressive advantages of guest app technology came at a cost in terms of financial investment and the need for specialised technical skills. Developing a proprietary guest app required substantial resources, from hiring skilled developers to ongoing maintenance and updates. 

According to Cleveroad, a mobile application development company, companies spend between $70,000 and $220,000 on developing a guest app, a considerable expense that only accounts for the build and not the ongoing maintenance and updates afterwards. This entry barrier limited the potential for smaller hotels and independent operators to adopt this technology, leaving them disadvantaged in the race to enhance guest experiences.

The SaaS revolution

SaaS solutions like HolidayHero have revolutionised guest app technology by breaking down previous barriers. By offering turnkey solutions that eliminate the need for hefty upfront investments and technical prowess, SaaS has made guest apps accessible to a broader range of hospitality providers, including STRs.

SaaS solutions offer a user-friendly interface that empowers STR owners to quickly implement guest apps without extensive technical knowledge.

This democratisation has catalysed an accelerated adoption of guest app technology across the industry, as the once-exclusive benefits are now within reach for properties of all sizes and types. 

The experience economy

In the era of the experience economy, where travellers seek not just accommodation but memorable journeys, the guest experience has become paramount.

This shift in consumer behaviour is rooted in the desire for meaningful and personalised interactions that extend beyond the mere transactional. Travel budgets are now allocated to the destination and the quality of experience offered during the stay.

This phenomenon has significant implications for both hotels and short-term rentals. The strategic deployment of guest app technology addresses this shift by tailoring the experience to individual preferences.

Hotels initially capitalised on this trend by leveraging guest apps to offer personalised room settings, concierge services, and real-time recommendations for activities and dining. Similarly, short-term rentals can leverage guest app technology to create personalised welcome messages, local guides, and curated recommendations, amplifying the value they provide to guests.

Moreover, the guest app’s ability to seamlessly handle check-ins, streamline communication, and offer contactless solutions resonates with the modern traveller’s preference for convenience and safety. This enhances the experience and cultivates a sense of trust and satisfaction, fostering loyalty and positive reviews.

A gateway to immersive experiences

Short-term rentals hold a unique advantage in the realm of the experience economy. Unlike traditional hotels, they often offer a more immersive experience, allowing guests to ‘live like a local’. By influencing their guests through guest app technology, short-term rentals can curate authentic experiences aligned with their surroundings.

Imagine a guest staying at a charming cottage nestled in a quiet neighbourhood.

Through the guest app, they receive recommendations for hidden gems – the best local cafes, scenic trails, and lesser-known attractions. By acting as a virtual local guide, the guest app transforms the stay into a journey of discovery. This dynamic enhances the guest’s overall experience and bolsters the appeal of short-term rentals over standardised hotel stays.

Building brand loyalty and direct bookings 

In short-term rentals, the desire to foster brand loyalty and establish direct communication with guests has gained significant traction. While online travel agencies [OTAs] have been instrumental in expanding the visibility of STRs, property owners often seek to reduce dependency on third-party platforms and establish a more robust direct relationship with guests.

Guest app technology emerges as a powerful tool for achieving these objectives.

By providing a branded app that guests can interact with throughout their stay, STRs enhance the guest experience and establish a direct touchpoint for communication. This fosters a sense of connection and loyalty, encouraging guests to bypass intermediaries and book directly for future stays.

The app becomes a platform for showcasing the property’s unique identity and offering exclusive deals, driving repeat bookings and referrals.

Furthermore, these branded apps are a springboard for building a distinct identity in a crowded marketplace. Just as major hotel chains have cultivated brand loyalty through their guest apps, short-term rentals can harness this technology to elevate their brand, creating lasting impressions beyond a single stay.

The rapid growth of guest app technology isn’t just reshaping the industry; it’s creating a new era of hospitality. By seizing this opportunity, you position your short-term rental business to thrive in a world where memorable experiences, brand loyalty, and direct relationships with guests are the cornerstones of success.

Don’t just be a spectator – be a pioneer and embrace the power of guest app technology to lead the way into a bright future for your STR.


Koster will expand on these points when she joins an expert speaker lineup for a ‘Rising STRz round table’ webinar on Tuesday 7 November [4pm GMT] – sign up now at this link.

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