03 Mar 2014
Most hotel apps cover the basics these days: a browsable database of the brand’s properties, a reservations booking system, a way to watch your loyalty-program points. But these apps stand out for the creative extras they offer.
Thanks to GPS technology, this app recognizes when you’ve arrived at a Ritz-Carlton property and sends location-specific advice and special offers. You’ll also have QR capability at 20 hotels that lets you scan your smartphone to check in. Once you’re settled, the app provides personal tips from President & COO Herve Humler (he recommends checking out the Viennese crystal chandelier in Doha or the secret garden at the Sanya Beach Resort).
The cool factor: No matter which Conrad you’ve booked, you can customize your stay before and during your trip. Choose from three lines of bath amenities, pre-order room service, request a wake-up call, order your car to be pulled around from the valet, or specify a pillow preference.
St. Regis New York E-Butler
The St. Regis in New York is held a longtime place on our Gold List, earning high marks for service and location. To make the most out of both, this app lets you chat with a St. Regis butler in real time, anytime, to help arrange outings and activities. And if you don’t feel like dealing with a live person, just browse through shopping, dining, and sightseeing recommendations from local VIPs like Vogue’s André Leon Talley or fashion designer Jason Wu.
InterContinental Concierge Insider Guides
IHG’s Concierge Insider Guides app makes the most of its iPad platform: You don’t just get basic recommendations on what to do, you get video tours hosted by local concierges and interactive maps.
It’s hardly surprising that a sleek hotel brand like SLS has a sleek hotel app. Whether you’re staying at the Beverly Hill location or the South Beach spot (which just made our 2013 Hot List), you can search the app for itineraries, food reviews, and other tips, along with in-house requests for housekeeping, wake-up calls, etc.
As you’d expect from the “Whatever, Whenever” brand, the W hotels app lets you order anything you need to your room (room service, towels, snacks, etc.). Two cool features: a special offers tab, and streaming music mixes curated by the brand’s global music director.
SPG: Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Customer Service is available 24/7 at several hotels, but the SPG app allows you to FaceTime with the SPG support team at any hour for assistance. You can also store your hotel room number in the app just in case you forget it, and the in-language addresses come in handy for traveling abroad.
The MyViceroy app will guide you through anything you need to know while on the island. It can reserve a taxi, calculate currency exchanges, even sign you up for personal training and reserve babysitting services. And if you happen to lose yourself a little too literally on the Viceroy’s 35-acre Gold List property, the app has a property map to help you find your way.
Mobile commerce continues to grow at a fast pace. According to eMarketer, mobile commerce or mCommerce constitutes $41.68 billion of the total $262.3 billion of ecommerce sales for 2013 or an increase of 68.2% from 2012 and accounts for 16% of total ecommerce sales. One-in-six dollars purchased on a mobile device is fantastic. But, there is still a long way to go, especially when you realize that ecommerce comprises less than 10% of total retail sales. But the good news is ecommerce is growing five times faster than traditional retail channels and mobile commerce is growing three times as fast as ecommerce as a whole.
Mobile commerce in the travel industry
It’s hard to find anyone in the travel sector who isn’t touting their mobile bookings growth.
According to a recent PhoCusWright report, U.S. Online Travel Overview Thirteenth Edition, mobile travel bookings will more than triple over the next two years, to reach $39.5 billion by 2015, this is about 25% of total online travel market.
As the cool kids say: “slow your roll, playa”.
I’m not saying that mobile bookings aren’t growing rapidly, but don’t let high growth percentages color your judgment too much. The law of large numbers still applies.
First of all, let us look at PhoCusWright’s own research. Only six months before their latest prediction, they predicted that mobile bookings were going to triple (the same number! Magic!) from 2012 to 2014. But the delta from 2014 to 2015 is “only” 50% (from $26 billion to $39 billion). It is still a fantastic growth, but much less heady than 300%.
Nearly 100 million Chinese tourists visited foreign countries last year, and they are likely to extend their lead as the world’s biggest-spending travellers, state media reported Thursday.
Chinese travellers spent $114 billion overseas in 2012, making them the world’s biggest spenders ahead of Germans and US tourists.
Hotels and retailers around the world have stepped up efforts to woo Chinese visitors.
Hotel and restaurant apps, powered by Blynk, support all international languages. Have your app content in Chinese and make it easier for your guests to request your services.
Apple has already revolutionized how we use technology in our daily lives. And there is no doubt that Apple’s iPad has the same potential to revolutionize the dining and hospitality industry. Here’s a list of ten that are laying the foundation for a new generation of hotels and restaurants outfitting their traditional services with the iPad. These early-adopter pioneers can potentially get a valuable lead in the industry’s competitive landscape.
1. iPads are replacing menus in the upscale Sydney restaurant, Mundo Global Tapas. Customers use the restaurant’s iPads to browse menu selections, order food, and view photos of every dish – even notify chefs of how they want their steaks cooked.
2. London’s Berkeley Hotel plans to offer hotel guests iPads for the duration of their stay. It comes with selected apps that help craft the travelers experience in the area – like suggesting the top-five places to visit, restaurant and location recommendations and a list of local hidden gems. The device becomes a travel guide for customers by helping map out their itinerary to provide a better traveling experience.
3. Intercontinental Hotels Group, plans to equip concierges with iPads. Results of their internal studies show that concierges with an iPad are more resourceful to fulfill services for hotel guests and are able to roam around the lobby to assist their customers, creating a less static method of customer service than being behind a desk. The company also discovered that by supplying iPads to concierges, it greatly reduces the time of training for new employees.
4. San Diego’s Hotel Indigo is incorporating the iPad to help boost social media presence. Visitors can ask questions about the local area to the hotel’s Twitter followers and are encouraged to connect and log comments on the hotel’s other social media pages. The hotel will have a live feed of their Twitter and Facebook pages streaming on a large display in their lobby, albeit under hotel staff supervision. Although the hotel’s concierges are present to assist guests, it harnesses its social media pages to create a network of online followers to make area-related recommendations.
5. Naples Tomato restaurant of Naples Florida recently announced their plans to utilize an iPad to recommend wine for customers instead of a sommelier. By accessing an app, wine connoisseurs can browse through the Mediterranean restaurant’s 550 Wine Spectator-recognized wine list.
6. Manhattan healthy fast food restaurant, 4food, plans to equip their waiters with iPads for assisting the ordering process. the restaurant’s progressive goal is to innovate the food-Ordering Process. Interestingly, the interior of the yet to be opened restaurant will also loosely imitate the aesthetics of an Apple store.
7. RezBook is a free iPad app that allows iPad users to view table layouts and make reservations. The plan is to integrate the app’s services with the traditional paper reservation process to expand the outlets for connecting with customers. The app also allows its users to indicate allergy information and propose seating preferences.
8. To enhance the customer experience, New York’s The Plaza, will be giving their customers an Ipad to be used as a Control Panel For Hotel Preferences such as requesting room service, scheduling wake-up calls, making spa appointments and printing boarding passes.
9. The OrderTalk iPad app makes the process of taking customers orders more efficient, bringing quicker service to full service restaurants. These hand-held terminals allow restaurant employees to collect order info and relay it to the ticket printer in the kitchen. Or allow customers at participating restaurants to order food from their personal or restaurant-provided iPads.
10. Luxe hotel, The Danai Beach Resort, on Greece’s Aegean Peninsula, offers guests iPads for the duration of their stay, even allowing guests to use them poolside and beachside. Regardless of whether it’s splash-proof or not, reading online magazines the iPad while sunbathing and sipping cocktails does evoke a sense of luxury.
27 Jan 2014
All major hotel groups worldwide are now focusing on mobile strategies in order to enhance the guest experience, offering fully customizable mobile apps that make all types of digital transactions simple for hotel guests —before, during and after their stays. As guests’ mobile apps are changing the way travelers interact with hotel staff and vice versa, staff mobile apps are also changing the way owners, managers, franchises and hotels groups are operating their properties. Mobile technologies have the unique potential to streamline hotel operations on the backend, and digital solutions for staff allow instant communication for enhanced employee efficiency and accountability.
Self-service is superior service
Technology vendors are raising the bar
Catering to the instant gratification generation
Greater staff efficiency through mobile technology
Mobile apps are branding gold
Mobile upselling and enhanced loyalty
Almost nothing stays the same forever. In the hotel business, you have to change if you want to keep up with the competition. In 2013, preferences of travelers may be different over whether it is better to have an Apple or an Android digital device. But, on one point, there is no argument at all. Travelers, all across the world, and right here in the United States, have become increasingly dependent on their mobile digital devices.
According to a combined study recently completed by travel marketing, research and consulting groups MMGY Global and the Harrison Group, the next generation of travelers has arrived. Results of the national survey entitled 2013 Portrait of Digital Travelers were released in August of 2013.
Key findings of the survey
1. Smartphone usage for planning and purchasing travel services has more than doubled from 23 percent in 2011, to 62 percent in 2013. That is a fractional increase of roughly 270 percent in just 2 years.
2. Tablet usage for planning and purchasing travel services has gone up six-fold from 2011 to 2013. In 2011, only 7 percent of households were using tablets for travel, while in 2013, the number surged to 42 percent.
3. Over 50 percent of the Digital Elite have children in their household, compared to only 37 percent of those who rely on more traditional methods to plan and book travel. This reflects that younger people tend to be more digitally connected, and even children of 10 or 12 years of age, get actively involved, through the internet, to help plan a family vacation.
4. Digital Elite travelers spend and do more than their not-so-well connected brethren of travelers in 2012.
• Total leisure trips: 4.1 vs. 3.8
• Weekend trips: 2.1 vs. 1.8
• Last-minute trips: 31 percent vs. 22 percent
• Spending: $4,988 vs. $3,812
Highlights from the article ‘Show These Mobile Usage Statistics To Any Travel Executive Resisting Change‘.
Travelers are switching from desktop Web browsers to smartphones and tablets in droves, but some travel companies have been slow to adapt to the change in traveler behavior.
Check out these half-dozen noteworthy statistics about mobile adoption.
Highlights from article in ArabianBusiness.com.
The ‘invisible traveller’ is emerging as the newest profile in the hospitality industry, describing those who want to be self-sufficient during their trip, according to new research by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), one of the largest hotel groups in the world with brands including InterContinental, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, and consultancy group, The Futures Company.
“Think of this scenario,” the IHG-Futures Company report says. “A booking has been made online. Once the guest arrives, they let themselves in… they use room service – not the restaurant – or consult the menu and place their order at a table fitted with an intelligent touch screen.
“The next night, they order a gourmet BBQ basket – and cook their own food. They’ve carried out their own extensive research about the local area and amenities, so don’t need to ask the concierge staff for their advice.
“In the room, thanks to content downloaded on a personal media device… in-room entertainment options will evolve. We are likely to see ‘Bring Your Own Devices’ come to the hospitality industry in 2013 – much as they’ve come to the workplace. This will enable guests to personalise their experience.
“Playing music from your own MP3 collection or watching films recommended by your friends takes away the anonymity of the traditional hotel room. Indeed, recent innovations such as Apple’s social TV make it possible to imagine that in the coming years, guests will watch TV in their hotel room ‘together’ with friends back home.”
A small number of hotels around the world have started trialling the independent check-in system. Depending on its success, it is likely to be gradually rolled out globally by next year.
Read the complete article here.
Highlights from article in USA Today.
(Photo: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago)
The iPad has revolutionized the way many travelers work and relax in hotels since Apple started selling it three years ago.
So, with the device’s third birthday in mind, Hotel Check-In asked a variety of travelers and hotel industry workers to identify the top ways that the iPad and tablet computers have changed the lodging experience. Here are their picks:
1. Replacing old binders, hotel directories and menus.
2. Less to pack.
4. iPad as tour guide.
Read the complete article here.
16 Apr 2013
Reproduced below is an article from Hotelier Middle East.
Digital-savvy consumers glued to their smart phones will transform the way the travel industry does business.
That was the verdict of a panel of technology experts speaking at the Technology Session at the two-day World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) 13th Global Summit 2013, which concluded 10 April at Jumierah Eithad Towers, Abu Dhabi.
Session moderator, Caroll Rheem, principal analyst at market research company PhoCusWright coined the term ‘splinternet’ to describe new accessibility to multiple devices and the way in which consumers now hop from computer to tablet to mobile phone and back again. “With every click, tap, purchase and abandon, consumers are telling us exactly what they want but we are only just now beginning to listen,” she stated.
Mobile phones are likely to be the focus for new technology as figures from travel-search website Qunar revealed a spike in mobile usage, claimed to be six times that of the internet in the world’s most populous nations with over 200 million mobile users in China alone.
Half of all traffic to travel websites will originate from mobiles by the end of 2014, generating US$26 billion in bookings according to Charles Armstrong, Founder and CEO of TourWrist who underlined the need for interactive and personalised technology such as its 360-degree panoramic experiences replacing outdated virtual tours, which he claimed, could increase online bookings by 67%.
Facebook’s global head of travel, Lee McCabe, revealed that viewing vacation images through social media sites was the catalyst for future travel plans for 25% of its users with 11% booking their next trip to the place eyed in the image. Smart phone usage is now 25% for Facebook and Instagram, 10% more than calling or texting and nearly 10% of sales in the US this year is predicted to be via mobile technology.