Premier Inn first launched its mobile app in January 2011, generating revenues of over £1m within three months. The app has achieved two million downloads to date.
The hotel chain also boasts that 77% of its room bookings are made online, and an increasing number of reservations are made from smartphones.
Sales conversion rates have increased too, from 3% to 5.9%. This has been achieved with the help of mobile data analytics provided by mobile innovation agency, Grapple.
Over the past three years, Grapple has aggregated data from its clients' 300 branded applications. Branded applications are those which either offer a utility or make the life of the customer easier when he or she is on the move.
Grapple has analysed data from 325 smartphone and tablet devices to enable companies such as Premier Inn to better understand customer behaviour to help them improve sales, customer retention and loyalty.
Analytics used to optimise the app
Premier Inn has also used Grapple’s analysis to improve its mobile application’s features and functionality, as well as to develop new brands, such as the recently launched Hub – a new and compact city centre hotel chain.
More on big data analytics
It found people usually book a room in the nearest hotel and they tend to mostly reserve one-night bookings. This information was fed back into Premier Inn’s booking application to boost room reservations.
Mobile analytics has enabled Premier Inn to acknowledge shifts in consumer patterns of behaviour. It is also helping the hotel chain to develop its brands. This includes developing an Android version of the app, as the initial iteration of the application was focused on customers who use iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
With the iOS version of the application, Premier Inn was able to learn about how customers were using it in order to improve it. But there is still much to learn about where the Android version requires different features to those of the iOS app.
The analysis has also shown that usability and design are very important, which can affect how customers transact with the app.
Unfortunately, games such as Angry Birds can skew data analysis, says Adam Levene, Grapple’s chief strategy officer. “All games can skew data. When you look at session times, people can play games for hours, and that’s why we were keen to aggregate only branded data,” he says.
Levene adds that 40% of mobile traffic to the websites of Grapple’s clients comes from mobile – with this expected to reach 50%, according to IMRG.
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Up close and personal
Mobile analytics allows businesses to improve their understanding of customers by providing context.
“The whole idea of tapping into mobile devices is that you are getting up close with your customers, and the obvious use case is location-based services which allow you to find places to eat, sleep and drink at specific locations,” says Tony Baer, a principal analyst at Ovum Consulting.
So smartphone data can allow a hotel to determine which products and services are most in demand by its customers. “It can give you incredible visibility, but it has to be in context, and you can’t lead on thinking that you know more about the customer than he or she is comfortable with – such as the customer’s location,” he adds.
Baer otherwise agrees that with big data it is possible to gain a comprehensive picture of a customer's preferences, and it doesn’t involve sampling at all.
“Regardless of what tools are used in the hospitality market, hotels have access to a diverse oracle that can enable them to splice and dice in many ways, and this includes a greater variety of data types,” he says.
This means that Premier Inn’s mobile customer data analysis offers a number of potential opportunities, but for now the hotel chain’s next step is to work with Grapple to improve the monetisation of its mobile and digital channels.