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Red Roof?s app goes beyond bookings to drive ongoing engagement

Red Roof is launching an official mobile application this month that not only makes booking a room quick and easy but also integrates social content and gaming.

The economy lodging hotel chain?s latest deals and offers are also available in the app to ensure travelers can easily access a number of summer deals while they are on the go. The app?s other capabilities include click-to-call for reservations and an instant booking feature

?We needed to take the conversation, technology and our brand to our guests,? said Marina MacDonald, chief marketing officer at Red Roof Inn, Columbus, OH. ?Increasingly, that is in the mobile environment.

?We have moved from desktop to mobile in how we communicate as a brand and in how our consumers communicate with us,? she said.

Red Roof caters to the road tripping traveler, with most of its locations found off of main thoroughfares and highways. The chain operates more than 360 franchised, corporate-managed and corporate-owned properties in the United States.

Social integration
The app includes a number of different features meant to engage guests and keep them coming back to the app.

For example, users will find games on the app, focusing of mobile versions of games such as 20 questions that children traditionally have played in the car, with the goal of helping parents keep kids occupied during road trips.

Additionally, the brand?s social channels on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are integrated, reflecting the growing number of consumers engaging with social media while they are traveling to share photos and post updates.

Users will also be able to receive push notifications with the latest deals and discounts.

With many Americans planning a summer vacation and a significant portion of those travelers planning on a road trip, the Red Roof app launch is timed to take advantage of the usual surge in traveling during the summer months.

Summer promotions
The app is one element in the chain?s marketing strategy during the busy summer months.

Offering a booking app is increasingly important for hotels, with almost three-quarters of travelers looking to a hotel?s Web site and mobile application to make a decision, according to a recent report from Magnani Caruso Dutton.

With a number of hotels and airlines already offering mobile services, travelers are coming to expect these experiences from all of the travel-related brands they interact with during a trip.

The bigger picture
Mobile booking is just one part of the story.

Once consumers arrive at a hotel, 74 percent want substantial digital involvement from the hotels to improve their stays, according to the Magnani Caruso Dutton report.

Marriott is a great example of a hotel that is leveraging mobile to enhance the experience for guests once they arrive at a hotel.

For example, Marriott Hotels recently initiated a test in 15 hotels enabling guests to text service requests for additional towels and chat with hotel representatives in real-time about other service needs (see story).

Marriott has also expanded a mobile check-in and checkout service first introduced last year, making it available in the brand?s nearly 500 hotels.

Red Roof?s social integration and games are also an example of how hotels are reaching beyond bookings on mobile.

?Our goal was simple access to the features our guests use most,? Ms. MacDonald said.

?They want to find a room and book it,? she said. ?We facilitate that via a clean user experience that puts those two items at the top of the list so we lead with Search and Book.

?We also wanted to make sure our guests connect with our brand message and social content and we have travel games because we want our guests to have fun too!?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York