Web App vs. Mobile App: What are the key features & differences?


Our innovative platform at DigitalGuest empowers hoteliers to revolutionize guest interactions. From optimizing guest experiences to fostering seamless communication, our solutions cater to the dynamic needs of the hospitality landscape. In this blog post, we dive into the technology that drives these interactions, comparing and contrasting the features of web apps and mobile apps. 

What is a Web Application?

A web application or web app is like a special kind of website that goes beyond just showing you information. It’s a software program that you access through a web browser, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari. It resides on remote servers and requires an internet connection to function efficiently. Web applications are designed to give you a more dynamic and engaging experience. They can do things like processing your input, saving your preferences, and even connecting to other services or databases to provide you with personalized information.

At DigitalGuest, our guest experience platform encompasses the essence of a web app. By providing guests and hotel staff with a centralized hub accessible via a web browser, we enable seamless information sharing, room service orders, and real-time communication. And the best is that the guests don’t need to download anything, just access the platform through a link. 

Advantages of Web Applications

  • Accessibility: Web apps can be accessed from any device with a browser and internet connection, offering flexibility and convenience to users.
  • Maintenance: Updates are done on the main server so that everyone using the system gets the same experience without needing to manually install anything.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Developing a single web app version can be more cost-effective than creating separate apps for different platforms.

Disadvantages of Web Applications

  • Offline Access: Web apps heavily depend on an internet connection; offline functionality is limited.
  • Performance: Loading times might vary based on network speed and server load.
  • Limited Device Integration: Integration with device features like cameras and sensors can be restricted compared to native apps.
web app used in a hotel by a guest

What is a Mobile Application?

On the flip side, mobile applications are software programs designed specifically for mobile devices, downloadable from app stores like Google Play and the Apple App Store. These apps cater to the unique capabilities of mobile devices while providing tailored experiences for users.

Advantages of Mobile Applications

  • Offline Functionality: Native mobile apps can offer certain features and content offline, making them suitable for remote or low-connectivity scenarios. However, offline functionality is mostly negated in an in-stay situation, as functionalities such as instant communication or features that require access to a server (such as digital room service) still require an internet connection. Which in a practical sense makes mobile apps and web apps very equal in actual in-stay hospitality use-cases.
  • Performance: Native apps are optimized for specific devices, resulting in smoother performance and quicker load times.
  • Device Integration: Mobile apps can seamlessly integrate with device features, enhancing user engagement and experience.

Disadvantages of Mobile Applications

  • Development Complexity: Creating and maintaining separate versions for different platforms (iOS, Android) can be more resource-intensive.
  • App Store Approval: Submitting apps to app stores entails approval processes, potentially leading to delays in updates and releases.
  • Installation Process: Users need to download and install apps, which can create a barrier to entry compared to web apps.

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Key Differences: Web App vs. Mobile App

The core difference between web apps and mobile apps lies in their accessibility, capabilities, and user experiences. Hotel guests can access a web app for their experience through web browsers on different devices and operating systems, providing wide compatibility. It doesn’t need installation and is easy to navigate to a page through a URL. 

On the other hand, a mobile app requires installation from app stores, providing a more customized and offline-capable experience. It seamlessly integrates with device features like camera and GPS, offering enhanced functionality. Mobile apps perform better but involve platform-specific development and updates. The choice depends on the desired user experience, accessibility, and development resources.

Why is a Web App Better than a Mobile App for a Seamless Digital Guest Experience for Hospitality?

A web app can offer advantages over a mobile app for enhancing the digital guest experience in certain situations. Here are a few reasons why one might consider a web app to be superior:

1. Accessibility

Web apps are accessible from any device with a web browser and an internet connection. This means guests don’t need to download and install anything, making it easier for them to quickly access information or services without taking up precious storage space on their devices.

2. No Installation Required

Installing a mobile app can be a barrier for some guests. They might be hesitant to download a new app, especially if they are only using it temporarily. With a web app, they can simply navigate to a URL without the need for installation.

3. Cross-Platform Compatibility

Web apps work on various devices and operating systems, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. This broad compatibility ensures a consistent experience for all guests regardless of their device preferences.

4. Ease of Updates

Centrally on the server side, updates are applied to web apps, ensuring that all users immediately access the latest version without the need to manually update their apps. In contrast, mobile apps require users to download updates from app stores.

5. Cost-Effectiveness

Developing and maintaining a single web app can be more cost-effective than creating separate versions for different mobile platforms (iOS, Android). This can be especially important for businesses with limited resources.

6. Discoverability

You can easily share web apps through links, social media, QR codes or email, enabling faster and wider distribution. Mobile apps often require users to search and download from an app store.

7. Temporary Use Cases

For events, conferences, or other temporary situations, where guests might only need access to certain features for a limited time, a web app can be a more practical solution.

8. Lower Entry Barrier

Guests don’t need to create accounts or provide personal information to use a web app in most cases, which can lead to a more frictionless and privacy-friendly experience.

Also, with the convenience of a web app, hotel guests can seamlessly enhance their experience by scanning a QR code. This simple action gives them access to a guest platform, ensuring quick navigation through services, amenities, and relevant information, all at their fingertips. QR codes can be placed in relevant locations in a hotel linking to your DigitalGuest platform. For example, in the hotel lobby, on the reception desk, or in an outside area to reach your guests at the right time at the right place.

Read more about QR codes and get inspired

qr code room

Wrapping it up

In conclusion, the choice between a web app and a mobile app hinges on your specific goals and target audience. For instance, if you prioritize widespread accessibility and cost-efficiency, a web app might be the optimal solution. On the other hand, if you aim to deliver a device-integrated experience to a dedicated user base, a mobile app could be your ideal pick. However, we always need to remember that the app needs to be downloaded, so DigitalGuest right from the start knew that the right way is to go with a web app. Read all the pros and cons and decide for yourself what is better for hotel guests.

Learn more about DigitalGuest and our solutions for improved guest experience at your property. Book a free demo with us today and we will help you enhance your guest experience! 

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