PWA vs Native App for the hospitality sector

The hospitality and residential real estate sectors have seen a massive shift towards digitalisation...
Unlocked iPhone in person's hand showing home screen

The hospitality and residential real estate sectors have seen a massive shift towards digitalisation, with mobile applications and PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) becoming popular among hoteliers, co-living, student and multifamily real-estate operators to enhance the guest experience. Both PWAs and installed mobile apps have their advantages and disadvantages, and choosing between them depends on the hotel’s specific needs and requirements. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of Native Apps and PWAs in the hospitality sector.


To understand this debate, we must first grasp the differences between the two types of apps.


What is a Native App?

A native app is a software application developed for use on a specific platform or device. These apps are designed and optimised to work seamlessly on a particular operating system, such as iOS, Android, or Windows.

Native apps are developed using platform-specific programming languages, such as Swift or Objective-C for iOS, Java or Kotlin for Android, and C# for Windows. This allows developers to take full advantage of the platform’s features and functionality, such as the camera, GPS, and other hardware.

Native apps are installed directly onto the user’s device and can be accessed from the home screen, making them easily accessible and convenient to use. They can also offer superior performance and user experience compared to web apps or hybrid apps that run on multiple platforms. However, native apps require separate development efforts for each platform, which can increase the cost and time required to develop and maintain them.


What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)?

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a type of web application that provides a native app-like experience to users while still being accessed through a web browser. PWAs are designed to work on any device or platform that has a web browser, including desktop and mobile devices.

PWAs use modern web technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, to provide a fast and responsive user experience. They are designed to be reliable and work even when the user is offline or has a weak internet connection through the use of caching and service workers.

PWAs can be installed directly onto a user’s device, providing a shortcut on the home screen and allowing the app to be launched without the need for a web browser. This makes PWAs convenient and easily accessible, similar to native apps.

One of the key advantages of PWAs is that they can be developed once and deployed across multiple platforms, reducing the need for separate development efforts for each platform. This can save time and reduce costs compared to developing separate native apps for each platform.

Overall, PWAs offer a way to provide a fast and engaging user experience that combines the best of web and native app technologies.


Advantages of Native Apps
  1. Full access to device features: Installed mobile apps have full access to device features such as push notifications, camera, and offline mode, making the guest experience more interactive and personalised.
  2. Improved user engagement: Mobile apps provide a better user experience than PWAs, as they offer guests a more personalised and engaging experience. This feature can improve guest satisfaction and loyalty.
  3. Higher discoverability: Mobile apps can be easily discovered and downloaded from app stores, making them more visible to guests. This feature can increase the app’s adoption rate among guests.
  4. Stronger security features: Mobile apps have stronger security features than PWAs, as they can access device-level security features. This feature ensures the protection of guest data and enhances their trust in the app.


Disadvantages of Native Apps
  1. Costly development and maintenance: Developing and maintaining mobile apps for different operating systems can be expensive, making it challenging for smaller hotels to afford.
  2. Device compatibility issues: Mobile apps may face compatibility issues on different devices and operating systems, which can lead to a poor guest experience.
  3. Limited cross-platform compatibility: Installed mobile apps are designed for specific operating systems, which can limit their compatibility with different devices and platforms.


Advantages of PWAs
  1. Cross-platform compatibility: PWAs are designed to work on all devices and platforms, including desktops, smartphones, tablets, and laptops. This compatibility allows hotels to create a consistent and seamless guest experience across all platforms.
  2. Faster and easier development: Unlike mobile apps, PWAs don’t require separate development for different operating systems. This feature results in faster and easier app development, deployment, and maintenance, saving both time and money.
  3. No installation required: PWAs don’t require any installation or download, making them easily accessible for guests. All a guest needs is a browser to access the app, making the app convenient and accessible to all guests.
  4. Lower storage requirements: PWAs don’t require any storage space on the guest’s device, which can be a significant advantage for guests with limited storage space on their devices.


Disadvantages of PWAs
  1. Limited functionality: PWAs cannot access all the features and functionalities of a device, such as push notifications, camera, and offline mode, which can limit the guest experience.
  2. Limited discoverability: PWAs cannot be downloaded from app stores, making them less visible to guests. This can affect the app’s adoption rate among guests.
  3. Limited security features: PWAs are less secure than installed mobile apps, as they run in a browser environment and cannot access device-level security features. This feature can pose a security risk for guests’ sensitive data.



Both Native Apps and PWAs have their advantages and disadvantages, and choosing between them depends on the properties specific needs and requirements. While PWAs are cost-effective and easily accessible, installed mobile apps provide better user engagement, discoverability, and security features. Therefore, operators need to evaluate their needs and choose the option that best suits their requirements to enhance the guest experience.

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