Thanks for posting and for getting involved in the community!
Personally, I don't like loading a bunch of apps on my phone, but maybe I'm the odd man out. It seems like there is an app for everything these days, so people must be downloading and using them, right?
When I am convinced to use an app is when it makes whatever I'm doing:
- easier - like a bank app that makes it easier to access my account information at a glance
- faster - like an airline app that lets me check in and skip lines and avoid printing out boarding passes
- cheaper - like a grocery store app that finds coupons and offers for the products I buy regularly
You want the app to generate money and reviews for you. That's fair. You're investing the time and money to develop it, so you should gain from it. What will the benefit be for your guests that make them eager to download and use it?
There are a lot of apps already out there for travelers. You could pick and choose the features you like from those and see if your developers could build in something similar.
Can you make it easier/faster/cheaper for your guests to do things? For example:
- Turn by turn directions to get to the hostel from public transport hubs when they get into town
- Online check-in to have all the info they need transmitted before they walk in the door
- Discounts (or freebies) when paying for beds/tours/activites/merchandise, or exclusive offers for buying services packaged together to drive additional sales
- Ability to extend their stay from the comfort of their bed
- Announcements of activites taking place in/around the hostel (with automatic discount codes to make it an even better deal? Maybe with an announcement of how many others are signed up so they don't want to miss out)
- Bulletin board for communication among current guests (with automatic translation?)
- Ability to announce maintenence/housekeeping issues during the stay (burned out lighbulbs, lack of toilet paper, vomit in a trashcan, broken chair in the room, etc)
- Self-guided walking tours with information about points of interest (and coupons for purchases at partner shops/restaurants along the way for which you can get a commission)
- A chatbot to answer frequently asked questions
- A trivia quiz with interesting local info that they can play on the toilet
- A feedback survey at the end of the stay where comments and suggestions will go straight to management (with automatic reminders sent to your happy guests to leave a review)
Incidentally, the dealbreakers for me are:
- when apps require more permissions than they need to perform the tasks I want
- when they take up too much storage space or slow down my device
- when they have extremely limited usefulness
If you can avoid those pitfalls it will probably increase the chances of guests downloading and using the app. At least it will increase the chances of people like me downloading it. :)
Perhaps as an added incentive, everyone who registers on the app gets automatically entered for the chance to win some kind of prize each night of their stay?
Good luck with the app development and with your hostel!