New Marriott mobile app a hit

Since its soft launch on August 5, Marriott International’s new cross-brand mobile phone application has been downloaded over 200,000 times and it cracked the iTunes top 10 list for free apps, where it remained on Thursday.

The new application works on iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices and allows users to search any location worldwide for a Marriott hotel, book a room, access rewards accounts, check upcoming reservations and get hotel details, including photos. It also has links to online features such as city guides.

While that may seem like a long list of functions, it’s actually much less than what Marriott initially thought the app needed. However, after testing with consumers it became clear that less was more in terms of user experience.

“Everything that we have and things that will come in the future are based on thorough consumer research. We worked on a list of features and had as much as 212 things we wanted to provide in mobile, and we really boiled that down in development,” said George Corbin, Marriott International vice president of e-commerce strategy. “What customers said was ‘that’s nice, but we really only need these things.’ There is with the mobile customer an immediacy and urgency to what they need done.”

While Marriott is not releasing hard data on development costs, Corbin said the company anticipates recouping the investment soon via direct bookings made with the app. “You’ve got a major channel to the customer. You can recoup investments pretty quickly,” Corbin said. “Any booking that comes to us from our own channels is the cheapest channel to do business on.”

This isn’t Marriott’s first mobile app, but a significant upgrade from its first-generation app product that Corbin says the company was not satisfied with. Meanwhile, Marriott International’s mobile website has been up since 2007 and it remains a steady booking engine for the company.

“We were out on mobile web. We regularly encounter people who sort of equate that having an app means your mobile,” Corbin said. “In fact, the lion’s share of all transactions happens through mobile web.”

In the meantime, Corbin says that although the company is pleased with consumers’ response to the app, which is important because initial negative ratings on app stores are hard to turn around, Marriott is already working on upgrades for the mobile app.

A screenshot of the new Marriott International mobile app on the iPhone.
A screenshot of the new Marriott International mobile app on the iPhone.