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Highlights from the article in zonestartups.com

Blynk

Meet Sunny Goenka and Vishal Dokania, the twin founders of mobile hospitality software, Blynk. Both have past experiences in successful family businesses but were rubbing their heads to do something of their own in technology and thus, started Blynk.

Sunny has completed his engineering from the UK and has done MBA from SP Jain Institute, Mumbai. He has worked in his family business, Hemlines, which manufactures and exports merchandise to global retailers like Metro and Tchibo. He has extensive experience with web technologies, SaaS products and ERP implementations. Vishal has an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering from University of Maryland, College Park and a MBA degree in Entrepreneurship from University of Missouri, Kansas City. He has worked as a software developer in the USA with Cerner Corporation and Sprint Nextel. Vishal moved to India in 2008 and has worked in his family’s interior furnishing and manufacturing business, Durian, which is a famous brand in India.

Their startup, Blynk, aims to revolutionize the interaction between hospitality industry and its guests by providing innovative mobile app solutions. It makes mobile apps for hotels and restaurants. Guests can explore the property, order services and access a host of powerful features. Vishal takes care of the technology and product development. Sunny heads business development.

Hospitality industry is at the forefront of providing self service solutions to their guests. They are looking for ways to directly connect with guests to provide a better service and to increase revenues. Blynk makes it easy for the hospitality industry to join this revolution by creating a powerful and branded platform apps for hotels and restaurants.

For instance, if you are an hotelier or restaurant owner, you can have your own branded app on the Apple and the Android app store, powered by Blynk. The app can be downloaded by your guests or you can use your own tablets in rooms or in the restaurant. The app has powerful features specifically for the hospitality industry. You can also directly change the app content from a web based control panel. There is more than what meets the eye! Blynk is powering apps of hotels from Canada to Thailand. At the moment they are powering more than 50 hotel apps and growing at a fast rate.

Some of their prestigious customers are Deerfoot Casino, Canada; The Park Group of Hotels, India; Charme Hotels, Netherlands; Tropical Garden Lounge, Thailand; Madhubhan Resorts, India.

They won the “Most Innovative Product” award at Travel & Tourism Fair (TTF), one of India’s largest travel trade fair. Currently, incubated at Zone Startups India, a joint venture between BSE, India and Ryerson University, Canada.

Read the Original article here.

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Highlights from the article in restaurantindia.in


Sunny Goenka

Restaurants are no more merely reliable on calling for table booking and reservations. Sunny Goenka, Co-founder, Blynk, a restaurant and hotel app manufacturer company, talks about how these apps are helping restaurants gaining popularity without much relying on the online ordering sites.

What is the concept of ‘mobile friendly website’ by Blynk?

The Internet traffic from mobile devices has increased rapidly in the last few years. This shows that more and more people are visiting your websites from devices like smartphones and tablets. We see that most websites today do not render correctly on these devices. So, visitors immediately leave the website, which results in loss of business. ‘Mobile friendly websites’ are the latest technology in developing websites. The websites dynamically change the content depending on the screen size. So, no matter which device you are using to view your website, your website will display perfectly on that device.

What is the major benefit of using e-menus by a restaurant?

Restaurant business is a highly competitive business. Using e-menus is the latest buzz to create a sense of awe among customers. It is also easy to update the menu items as it is now digital. You don’t have to print the menus every time there is a change in price or if for one day, an item is out of stock.

For restaurants, another big advantage is that it allows customers to easily place home delivery orders. They no longer have to dial a number, shout out their order to the staff who can barely hear them in a noisy restaurant, thus avoiding ordering errors.

Please name some restaurants whose mobile apps have been prepared by you.

Most of our customers are hoteliers. So we have mainly developed restaurant apps for in-hotel restaurants like Madhuban Resorts, Anand and Whitefield Spoon and Royal Orchid Bangalore.

 

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What is the cost of creating and maintaining a mobile app for a restaurant and hotel?

Besides the onetime setup fee, on an average it only costs Rs 3,000-10,000 per month. The cost is low as we do not develop individual apps since it is a platform.

What is the response of such an app in Indian F&B Industry?

We are pleasantly surprised that the Indian F&B industry is up-to-date with the use of technology in the industry. They are actively looking for such solutions just like their counterparts in western markets.

What is your motive behind launching such an app?

Since we are a product software company based out of India, we really wanted to capture the Indian market in spite of many well wishers advising us to focus on other markets.

Due to the confidence of our customers, we have a good revenue stream in place. Our aim is to strengthen our product by putting all our revenues in product development. Right now, we are more focused on product and market development and are not concerned with direct profits.

How do you customise your app?

There is customisation skin built in the platform itself. So for every app, we can easily change the business logo, backgrounds, images and content as per the demand of customers.

Read the complete article here.

 

Highlights from the article in restaurantindia.in

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So far, mobile applications have been used primarily as a source of information and feedback. But now there is an increased integration between different restaurant offerings with mobile platforms in the areas like customer loyalty, placing orders and making payments and also promotional activities etc. For instance, Chaayos, a restaurant serving tea, uses the popular web chat platform, ‘Whatsapp’ to take orders and customer feedback thereby making the process simpler and less intrusive for the customer. And the trend is bringing the customers closer to the restaurants.

Speaking on the trend, Vivek Kapoor, Managing Partner, Dineout shares, “We at Dineout have seen significant increase in our ordering numbers since we launched our App on IOS and Android. We are getting almost 30 percent traffic through our mobile channels only.”

What has prompted the trend?

Research says many restaurants and the online food ordering and table reservations websites are moving towards the platform called Electronic Reservation Book (ERB) and are integrating Point of Sale (POS) and Androids in their businesses.

Even few technology investments are no longer limited to just backend operational initiatives or POS systems. Restaurants are turning to technology investments that directly improve guest experience. Also online orders and reservation platforms are partnering with restaurants on ERB.

According to a recent international study by Technomic on ‘consumers facing technology’, consumers use integrated mobile technology into their dining experience especially if it speeds up the process of getting their meal or paying their bill.

Restaurants using such technologies

Hotels like Peninsula Grand, Mumbai is using ‘virtual menu’, an advance tech-menu which is available on the restaurant website and can be viewed on tablets, palmtops, smart phones from where the diners can have an access to the menu offered by the restaurant.”

On the other hand, Lite Bite Foods are implementing Airline Control Programme (ACP) in their company to streamline the entire sourcing, selling and indenting.

Pizza Corner, the pizza chain in India has recently introduced mobile app ‘Today’ through which customers can order Pizza on just a single click. The user-friendly application helps customer access single detail information. The application is currently available to all Android users and will soon be available on the IOS platform.

Who are the solution providers?

With growing demand of such apps, companies like Blynk and MyPref in India have created apps to find and order food by using mobile apps being downloaded free.

MyPref has introduced a new smartphone app allowing foodies to search and locate specific food items and the restaurants. MyPref makes the guesswork out of a specific menu by providing reviews for each dish. The app is available on Android and iOS smartphones and its download is free.

Speaking on the cost required to create and maintain a mobile food app, Sunny Goenka, Co-Founder, Blynk, says, “It costs almost Rs 3000- 5000 per month to create and maintain an app. We have developed a platform which lets us create branded customised app for restaurants within few days. The apps have features required specifically by the restaurants like home delivery, digital/virtual menus, social media interaction and much more.”

Even QSR chains like Dominos, Pizza Corner, Starbucks, McDonalds, and Dunkin’ Donuts have also created their own mobile app to make the online food business much simpler and easier.

Changing the payment gateway

There are now numerous POS platforms that leverage the iPhone and other mobile devices, including Android-powered smartphones and tablet computers like the iPad, so that restaurants can process payments in the field with a credit-card reader. The readers either attach to mobile devices of the operator’s choice or accept payment through mobile applications like Google Wallet.

Atchayam Foodbox, a Chennai based automated restaurant is also using mobile phones applications to make the payment gateway easier. The diners can pay through credit or debit card by switching to the POS platforms on their iPhone and smartphone devices.

Eric Ho, Founder, Yo Yo Noodles, says, “Mobile technology is definitely becoming increasingly popular. The ability to be able to place orders from a phone app is great. I feel that within 2-3 years, we will start to see this market grow more than ever before, now we are still in early stages and people are still in the stage of familiarizing with the whole concept.”

Read the complete article here.

Opening-of-BIL_Ryerson-DMZ-India

(Image courtesy: Yourstory.in)

We are proud to announce that Blynk has been incubated at the Digital Media Zone, a joint venture between the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute Ltd., (BIL), Ryerson University of Toronto, Canada, Ryerson Futures Inc. (RFI), and Simon Fraser University.

BRIC-FI

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It’s a big coincidence but we are excited of our new relationship with Canada because our first customer, Deerfoot Casino is also located in Calgary, Canada.

With support of our new partners, we are looking forward to focus on product development and increasing our market share globally.

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor-General of Canada (Blynk slide in background :)

20140228_111254_M P Shetit Marg

Event covered in the press:

Digital Media Zone Press Release

The Globe and Mail

Yourstory.in

Aahar International Fair, New Delhi

Visit Blynk at India’s biggest hospitality trade show ‘Aahar International Food & Hospitality Fair’ at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from 10 – 14th March 2014.

Stall: 6-45-D

Website: http://www.aaharinternationalfair.com

 

Highlights from the article in pocketyourshop blog.

Did you know that in 2012 three out of every four active travelers used a mobile device? What’s even more amazing is that two out of those three active travelers will use their mobile devices to explore, shop and book activities while they are traveling. That is half of all active travelers! source: mydesitnation.com

With so much noise about mobile apps, once you decide you want one, it’s hard to know where to start. This article will help hoteliers cut through the noise and discover what you need to know before you create an app for your property.

1) What are your goals for the app?

A favorite quote of ours by Laurence Peter is, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else.” It is crucial that you decide what your goals will be and how you want your guests to use the app.

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This will not be too difficult, you surly have already set goals for your hotel and what you want guests to do, ensure all of these things are included in your app.

Here are a couple of ideas to help you get started.

Hotels

  • Explore surrounding area
  • Increase average capacity
  • Fill event space
  • Room-serivce/catering menus
  • Sell partner venue tickets
  • Convenient transportation
  • Business services

Resorts

  • Keep guests in your resort
  • Increase number of repeat guests
  • Encourage them to use your hotel’s day spa
  • Showcase all of your amenities
  • Where the best nightlife can be found
  • Places for fitness & health

2) What do your guests want?

Do your guests tend to stay around the hotel? Then you’ll want to include hotel amenities, menus, quick access to staff and calls to action to encourage them to explore the hotel.

Maybe your guests are always out exploring the area around your property. You’ll want to include directions, hours and contacts for local attractions, dinning and shopping. Possibly even create various itineraries for different types of guests. Check out the graph below provided by Travelport on what travelers want.

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Business Traveler

  • High-end dining & reservations
  • Where they can rent temporary event/office space
  • Places to fax or get papers copied
  • Limo/town car rentals & drivers
  • Places for language translation
  • Where they can find office supplies

Leisure Traveler

  • Shopping & places to relax
  • Local beaches, lakes, etc.
  • Social networking
  • Places to rent recreations equipment
  • Discount vouchers or coupons

Family Friendly Hotels

  • Easy access to local attraction tickets
  • Family friendly restaurants
  • Access to convenient transportation
  • Where to find grocery stores
  • Tour guides or tour businesses

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It’s important to define these personas to ensure your content resonates with guests. Maybe your property has a combination of these guests? A great example of a hotel ensuring they cover every type of traveler is Courtyard Marriott Pasadena. 

3) How will your app reach your guests?

Now that you have a better idea of what you want, before you launch your new app it is important to decide how you will market this to your guests.

Just because you built it doesn’t mean they will come! That is why the first two steps are just as crucial as this one, you not only need great content tailored for your guests, you need to be sure they are actually downloading your app.

The answer is probably a combination of a few things.

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  • A banner on your website homepage
  • Regular Facebook, Twitter posts with the link
  • An email blast
  • Your email signature
  • Guest confirmation/welcome emails
  • Room keycard insert
  • In-room tent card
  • Lobby poster
  • Have your staff recommend the app when guests check-in

Read the complete article here.

Highlights from the article in CN Traveller.

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.

Ritz-Carlton hotel app
Ritz-Carlton

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). 

Conrad Concierge hotel app
Conrad Concierge

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 hotel app
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 hotel app
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. 

SLS hotel app
SLS

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. 

W Hotels app
W Hotels

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. 

Viceroy Anguilla app
Viceroy Anguilla

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.

Highlights from the article in Tnooz.

emarketer

 

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.

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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%.

Read the complete article here.

Highlights from the article in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Chinese app screenshot

 

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.

Read the complete article here. 

Highlights from the article in KWE Group Blog.

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.

Credit: KWE Group Blog


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