Concierge apps are a big thing these days. But what does that mean for the humans in the concierge or VIP hosting business?
The inevitable march of technology is obviously not going to stop any time soon. And the new crop of concierge apps will definitely put a hurting on those in the business. So how can you, incredibly knowledgeable with a huge black book of contacts, work to overcome your mobile replacement?
According to Sun Tzu (The Art of War) –
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
Let’s take a quick look at a few of the new crop of concierge apps, and determine how you can beat them without fighting, it might be a bit more simple than it looks at first glance.
From Tnooz, a bit about Porter & Sail app, designed for guests at high end luxury hotels –
Hotel operations and concierge startup Porter & Sail has build a consumer-facing mobile app for guests at luxury hotels.
Hotels prompt their guests to download the app, which offers travel guide content from local experts, such as the musician Moby providing tips on exploring LA.
This is an app designed to bring a value add to guests, one that is on par with the accommodations they’re forking out the big bucks to experience.
Hotel partners include Soho Beach House in Miami, Viceroy, Sydell Group, the Único Hotel Group, Unlisted Collection, and The Zetter properties in London.
The obvious draw here is the famous people that are providing content for the guests.
From MobileSyrup, a piece on the new TD&Me app, created by Canadian banking and financial firm, TD Waterhouse. It integrates with the existing TD app, and is powered by Flybit.
“By delivering in-the-moment experiences we’re able to humanize the digital interactions and cater more to how customers live their lives through their mobile devices.”
TD’s sticky point here is offering up to the minute, personalized suggestions for customers that fit in with their lifestyle – while of course, keeping them in touch with their bank. They can add discounts for using their branded credit card products while attending these events, and that could be a popular perk for the value conscious consumer.
So these are two very different offerings from two very different sources, but each offers an ongoing relationship to the user.
How can you remain relevant in the face of all these concierge apps?
Let’s take a quick look at standalone apps and how they are actually used.
#1 – Most apps aren’t used. We know that sounds crazy but the average life span of an app these days is roughly 3 days from install to never used again. Yep, three days. More than 75% of apps that are installed never get used past the first time.
#2 – Many apps fall by the wayside when the developers can’t make critical mass and stop updating and maintaining the app. Well, there’s going to be a consequence when someone builds an app and it’s not the next Pokemon Go.
But you can’t rely on the failure of all these apps to maintain your business.
While most of these newly created apps will fail, some will go on to be successful, like Yelp, UrbanSpoon/Zomato, etc. And then you should also factor in Facebook and Google into the competitive equation.
[RELATED: Mobile VIP, Concierge & Promoter App]
Google has a very heavy focus on local search – you know, the ones that have “_____________ near me” in them, and Facebook has such a huge presence that it’s impossible to know how much weight they can bring to bear on the market if they decide to leverage the Messenger app (or even the regular Facebook app) into the user experience/local market.
So what should you do when facing all these concierge apps?
The simple answer is to make yourself mobile.
That’s the mission critical, must do, absolutely have to get on it today, path to success. If you want your client base to rely on you, use your services, and keep you at the front of their mind when they are in the market for local entertainment, you must be mobile.
Creating your own stand alone app is a terrible idea (see above if you have any questions lol), but integrating yourself into aggregator apps is something that you should certainly look into.
Co-founder Kim Stuart was quoted in the MRC Cup of Joe blog last week –
“Probably the most common misconception that business owners/managers/marketers have is that app discovery somehow takes care of itself,” says Kim Stuart, COO of Atlas Rewards. “As with anything else, there is a HUGE investment of time, effort and dollars in order to promote a successful app. (My definition of a successful app is one that at least breaks even on the initial and ongoing dev costs to support it. )There are more than 2 million apps in the App Store and roughly the same in Google Play, so the odds of anyone finding an app randomly are up there with winning the lottery. It’s very expensive to market an app, so most business owners should really think about WHY they believe they should build an app.”
How can you do mobile without your own app?
#1 – Google My Business
This is probably the most important thing you can do to promote yourself and your business. If you don’t have a Google+ page (yes, we know it’s crickets in there for the most part), then you need to get one, pronto.
This is the first step to creating your Business page, and this is also a place that Google gives some preferential treatment to in search results. Especially if your clients are on G+ and are connected to you. Make sure you have contact info correct, do the snail mail validation (even if your “office” is a UPS center or MailBoxes ETC), and update it periodically with new content. (More about the content in a bit)
#2 – Facebook Business Page or Group
This is also a no brainer. It’s free, you can set it up in minutes, and you can encourage your client base to connect with you there as well. Whether you choose to do a business page or a group is up to you, and will depend on how involved your client base is with you. If you can’t support a group, then don’t create one, but do ask your clients to like your Business page.
#3 – Mobile wallet cards
Simple, easy, and universally works with both iOS and Android phones. Sorry, no Windows or Blackberry phones, and no plans to support either. Rather than giving you the sales pitch for the product, there are two links on the page to the site, and you can check it out when you have a free moment.
Add links to all of your social, your content, anything and everything that is pertinent to creating a great experience for your client base. It’s all accessed from the back of the card – so do include your Google My Business page link and your Facebook Page link. If you Tweet, do YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Periscope, etc, put them on the back.
Now, about that content.
Content can be a trap, if you don’t use it carefully. It’s super easy at first to think that you’re going to update your blog with things to do around town every day, but it’s highly unlikely that six months later you’ll find daily updates as anything more than an albatross around your neck – especially if you’re busy.
But you do need to provide some educational materials, links to town calendars, some spotlight articles on fun things to do, and other content in this same vein. The trick is in HOW you “drip” it onto your blog or page (you can use your FB page and copy the material to your Google page, there’s no need to have completely fresh content on each since it’s not very likely that the same people will read both pages).
There’s more you can do – an email newsletter, for instance. But again – don’t commit yourself to something you won’t keep up; no one likes to see an abandoned blog or sign up for an email newsletter and never receive one.
Start with an easy schedule – once each week for instance. Update your content page, update your social pages with the updates, and then send out a lock screen notification to your client base using the mobile wallet cards. And voila! You’ve got a workable strategy that isn’t going to eat up all your time and make you resentful.
Expand when you can, but wait until you see what your clients actually like and use.
If no one reads your in-depth articles about museum exhibits, but everyone hits your calendar links to see what’s playing on the weekend, then you should allocate your marketing time accordingly. Don’t be afraid to try new things on your content pages, and as long as you include a source reference, you can pull in parts of other people’s articles or content (look at how we did it above with the two apps we talked about).
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to pivot if things change in your business. If you find yourself working with a younger demographic as time goes on, slant things more towards their age group, and vice versa if you end up with the older set. Or the moms on the go crowd, perhaps.
In any case, you’ve got to mobilize in order to stay relevant, no matter what your target demographic.