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underlined the need for interactive and personalised technology such as its 360-degree panoramic experiences replacing outdated virtual tours, which he claimed, could increase online bookings by 67%.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.
16 Apr 2013
Congratulations to our below clients for having their mobile apps on the Apple and Android App Stores. Blynk looks forward to helping them connect with their guests.
The Tropical Garden Lounge Hotel and Resorts is located in Samui Island, the splendid tropical islet treasure found in Southern Thailand. They offer world class indigenous Thai-style bungalow accommodation as one explores the magic that the pristine white sandy beaches, overhanging coconut trees and the clear blue waters of the sea, best suited for diving and snorkelling The Coconut Island, with its abundance of flourishing corals is a paradise best fit for snorkeling, swimming, and diving exploits.
Bavoort restaurant is located in Leusden, Netherlands. It boasts of sunny spots and fantastic illuminated terraces. Their menu offers a variety of dishes and menus, which are adjusted monthly to what the season has to offer. They also provide barbecues, buffets , high teas and parties.
Part of the famous Fortune Group of Hotels, FPL is located in Thane, near Mumbai, India. Thane is also popularly known as “city of lakes” as it is surrounded by 30 lakes and along with has been recognized for the best town planning and beautification. Thane, City of Lakes, bustling and self-sufficient, now houses Fortune Park Lakecity. Strategically located on the Eastern Express Highway, it is well connected to business and industrial nerve centres like Waghle/Kolshet, Bhiwandi, Airoli, Kalwa, Vikhroli, MIDC & SEEPZ, Navi Mumbai and Mumbai itself. Tastefully and thoughtfully appointed, Fortune Park Lakecity is the perfect amalgam of comfort, convenience and great value.
Some highlights from an article from EyeForTravel.
On Mobile is the future
While Marriott is actively considering the bigger picture, it is also focusing in on how to improve customer service using digital technologies. Unsurprisingly mobile – which is growing rapidly – is playing a significant role.
On Promoting Your App On Key Cards
“From a marketing standpoint one thing that is very successful for us in our properties is the leveraging the key card holder for mobile downloads,” explains Abrahamson. Either there are QR codes or text shown on the card so the customer can go directly to the app.
On Opportunites For Upselling
Abrahamson understands only too well that the hotel experience begins on the day you book your room, but it continues on the journey to the hotel, during your stay and when you are heading home. “There is a lot that happens in this period and like the airlines we looking at ways to, for example, expedite the check in process,” he says. Of course there are also opportunities for upselling of a spa treatment, room upgrade and so on.
On E-Menu Apps
Aside from the airline business, Marriott is looking for cues from the food industry. It is looking at restaurant apps that allows you to pre-order, and then skip the queue when you pick up your food. The idea of pre-ordering room service is something that frequent business travellers could benefit from.
It is clear that hoteliers realize the power of mobile apps to connect to guests and drive revenues. Hoteliers have the option of developing these apps in-house at a high upfront expense and then significant recurring expenses to upgrade the app with new features and platforms. Or they can go with an out-of-the-box solution like ours. Get all the above features and more with your app, powered by Blynk.
12 Apr 2013
Reproduced below is an excellent article from LMA Blog.
This year was remarkable in many ways; demographics, economics, politics, education, manufacturing, all are changing. Looking to 2013, I believe that it will be the year of technology.
2013 doesn’t look to be a year where anything truly revolutionary will be introduced, and even Apple appears quiet after a flurry of launches that include the iPhone5, iPadmini, iPad4 (ok iPad3 with a new display) as well as upgrades to their MacBooks. Apply the term ‘Technology Satiety’. We have only so much time per day, and thus, only so much that we can devote to any one particular device, website or social network. 2013 looks to be more a period where hoteliers can get up to speed with what’s out there, and indeed, this is a necessary action to maintain market share. Let’s go piece by piece and get into some specifics, in no specific order.
It’s a no-brainer that you need one. But meeting the base requirements is far removed from what a website aspires to be: an extension of the onsite experience. With the top browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari) relatively static in their percentages year-over-year, 2013 offers a good breath of time for you to complete your revamp. Think lots of high-res photography, intuitive navigations and functional content management systems so that minor updates don’t always need to be pegged in by a programmer. And importantly, see item 3 below regarding mobile.
2. Booking Engines.
Building on the notion of a sleek website, the resident booking engine must be airtight. After all, with the dominance of internet-borne travel, these modules are destined to be the major locomotive for core revenue. In 2012, one of the trends I piously followed was the mounting opposition to the OTAs and third-party booking sites. Despite whatever fruits of war this bears, I can say with absolute certainty that if your website’s booking engine isn’t flawless, you’ll only be throwing fuel on external providers’ flames.
Another no-brainer. In fact, it’s now borderline cliché to even mention the expansion of mobile devices. 2013 will unquestionably bring more coverts into the smartphone fold, and with this will come a sharp rise in the number of transactions completed entirely through these portable machines, from initial research to credit card confirmation. Much like your booking engine, your website must be adaptable to these screen sizes, both cellular and tablet. Ensure that it maintains a legible, sleek format and that it loads fast to thwart any cognitive drift.
When you sit down to tackle your mobile strategy, one question that will likely be raised is: Do we build our own native app? Apps are definitely cooler than a mobile-ready website, but keep in mind that the coding expenditures can be steeper and, importantly, with hundreds of thousands of new apps published each year vying for consumers’ attention, do you really think yours will stand out? Think apps for your guests: downloading your app for use during their stay then deleting it afterwards. With this in mind, one large growth area will be concierge apps. Look to getting one custom built for your property.
5. Android Versus Apple.
No discussion of smartphones would be complete without a few words on this worldwide battle for digital supremacy. What’s pertinent to hoteliers to note is that other cellular manufacturers have rapidly aligned against the Apple iOS under Google’s open source Android firmware, amounting to more apps and better apps. Given the remarkable push that brands like Samsung have made into this space, it’d be wise to engineer all your mobile efforts for both Android and Apple iOS.
The beginning of 2012 was rife with talks about how to use these devices to heighten the hotel experience. And for good reason; tablet sales saw big gains and these numbers will almost certainly persist. Apple currently dominates this market with the iPad, but expect more Android-compatible entrants to step in with very competitive prices. Much like the thought process behind custom apps, the vision of in-room tablets has been vehemently debunked in favor of flexible solutions that accommodate guests’ personal hardware. Hence, tablets should be part of the discussion for any concierge app design, but also consider them for convenient and interactive lobby kiosks.
7. Social Media.
Much like the incessant affirmations of mobile’s validity, social media is here to stay. As more users sign on and monitoring software improves, the excuses for not treating this as an extension of your brand are rapidly dwindling. 2012 was the year of the visual revolution, namely Instagram and Pinterest. Applying the concept of technology satiety, 2013 will be less about exploring new entrants and more inclined towards refining your strategy for the firmly established leviathans – Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, and LinkedIn. The approach you take should be one of informing future guests, facilitating requests from present visitors and sustaining relationships to build loyalty.
8. Free WiFi.
The first seven points are all about digital trends, and a consumer’s use of such devices is wholly dependent on internet connectivity. We live in an electronic world that runs on bandwidth. People treat the internet like they do water, electricity, heating and a comfy bed – vital. There are strong reasons for charging for this service, but none of them will earn you an iota of respect from consumers. Offering wireless internet access for free will increase for 2013 and I pity the hotel that still thinks its consumers don’t care about paying extra for this.
9. OTA Dominance.
The recent plan by Expedia to offload responsibility for credit card processing on the property, rather than through their facilities, underscores their power. So, without altering their commission structure, the owness for paying credit card fees and dealing with possible guest default issues is shifted. And I am not even covering the issues for franchised flags who will potentially see franchise fees levied on the commissionable portion. Room Key aside, there has to be a lot more done to reign in the rising tide of third party distribution costs.
10. A Fundamental Return to Quality Guest Services.
Do whatever you deem necessary with your electronic enhancements or brand reforms, but none of that matters if your onsite experience doesn’t meet expectations. As witnessed by the ensembles of scathing reviews posted on TripAdvisor and its ilk, bad guest services can seriously derail revenues. Moreover, hoteliers increasingly understand the imperative of adding a human touch to the guest’s experience – warm front desk staff, attentive wait staff in restaurants and, if need be, personal apologies from managers. Incorporating more positive guest-staff interactions is a surefire way to reaffirm visitors that you value their patronage and to build long-term brand loyalty.
(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in HOTELSmag on December 19, 2012)
07 Mar 2013
Hospitality technology company, Blynk is offering hotels a free trial of customized mobile apps. Hotels who have been looking to jump on to mobile but have not yet done so, can now use this offer to experience the power of mobile apps, without any risk.
The trial period is for 2 months, no payment is required and there are no obligations to continue.
Blynk’s Head of Business Development, Sunny Goenka says “Blynk understands that hotels want to drive direct bookings. We have a plan to achieve this:
1. Connect with your guests via a mobile app.
2. Engage them by having powerful features which make it a must for your guests to download and use the app.
3. Drive revenues via direct bookings and promotions via the app.”
Vishal Dokania, Head of Technology says “All hoteliers know that they need to be on guests’ mobile and tablet devices. They are wondering how to go about it. We are so sure of the benefits of going mobile for hotels that we decided lets give them a no brainer way to go mobile. That’s why we came up with a risk free trial offer. Hotels can now have their mobile app in less than 2 weeks. They simply sign up and we do everything.”
Blynk has created Blynk iHotel, its platform through which it is able to create powerful apps for hotels. The app works on all Apple and Android mobiles and tablets. Hotels have access to a web based control panel to control their content. The apps have powerful features like e-menus, shopping cart, call back requests, booking forms, local weather, Google maps, video streaming, 360* virtual tours and more. The app also supports international characters.
Blynk’s mission is to mobilize hospitality. Blynk iHotel is a platform to create powerful mobile and tablet apps for hotels through which, hotels can Control their digital content, Connect with guests and Drive revenues. The app works on all Apple and Android mobiles and tablets. Hotels have access to a web based control panel to control their content. The apps have powerful features like e-menus, shopping cart, call back requests, booking forms, local weather, Google maps, video streaming, 360* virtual tours and more. The app also supports international characters. The app can be downloaded from the App Stores either on guests’ devices or on devices provided by the hotel. Since beginning operations in 2012, Blynk is now powering hotel apps globally from British Virgin Isles to Thailand and is growing at an exponential pace. Blynk was awarded ‘The Most Innovative Product’ by Travel & Tourism Fair (TTF), Ahmedabad and Mumbai in 2012. Know more about Blynk on its website at www.blynk.it. For more information, please call +91 9925245300 or follow us on Twitter @Blynkit.
Mr. Hiren Yadav, Head Marketing
M: +91 9898 909 214
07 Mar 2013
Hotels and Restaurants are best suited to get direct benefits from virtual tours as you can demonstrate your facility much better. Virtual tours enable your guests to have a realistic experience of your rooms and property. Virtual tours will engage your customers and have proven to directly increase revenues via an increase in bookings and reservations. Statistics show that virtual tours can increase bookings by over 40% than compared to showing only images to your guests.
Using TourWrists’ innovative technology, you can now show 360* Virtual Tours in your mobile apps, powered by Blynk.
We strongly feel that every hotel and restaurant should incorporate virtual tours in their websites and apps by following the below simple steps:
- Shoot virtual tours of your property if you don’t already have. Virtual tours cost approximately a minimum of only $1,000 to shoot. One virtual tour shot costs ~ $100 – 150. So you can plan a day shoot with a min of 8-10 shots.
- Upload to TourWrist.com. Many virtual tour photographers provide their own custom software to display this on your website. However, we suggest to make it clear that you would like your virtual tours to be uploaded on TourWrist.com.
- Show the world. TourWrist is like a YouTube for virtual tours. So your tours will be visible to the millions of people who visit their site and apps. You can also easily embed the virtual tours directly on your website. The virtual tour will also be visible on your apps, powered by Blynk.
The virtual tours on our apps are an experience for your guests. When they open the virtual tour on an Apple or Android device, they can simply move the device to view the virtual tour. Something which is not possible on your website. To see how that works, check out this video.
At Blynk, we are working hard so that guests can do things on your mobile app, which they cannot do on your website. Our partnership with TourWrist adds one more reason why it is a must to have a mobile app.
We are excited to announce the launch of E-Menu Apps for Restaurants, Bars, Cafes and Lounges.
As a Restaurant, Cafe, Bar or Lounge owner, you might be looking for an easy way to have your own mobile and tablet app. Your guests can explore your property, connect to you via social media and see your menus. You can use the app on iPad or Android tablets and replace your menus. The whole city will talk about it. And you won’t have to wait for six months before you can make a change in your menu. You can now change your menu daily from a simple web based content management system.
If you do home deliveries, your customers now have an easy way to place orders of their favorite food without calling you.
Some key features:
- Customers can place orders in your property or for home delivery
- Transparent, risk free, subscription based pricing
- No do-it-yourself, designing included in nominal setup cost
- Easiest and fastest way to launch your app
- Simple web based Content Management System
We invite you to take advantage of our limited introductory price offer. Plans start as low as $29 per month.
Contact us to sign up or to request a demo.
We are happy to announce that the upscale The Park Group of Hotels has chosen Blynk to power its mobile presence.
Located in some of the biggest cities around India, The Park is a likely choice of destination for corporate and leisure travellers. In each city, the properties are at prime downtown locations giving the guests easy access to the commercial and entertainment hubs around town. Stylistic luxury enhances every detail at The Park ” from the art, the furniture and the ornamentation to the dining and entertainment facilities. The Park has achieved excellence in the market through the ceaseless up-gradation of products and services, making it a truly cutting-edge international experience.
15 Jan 2013
Reproduced below is an excellent article from HotelExecutive.com. The article comprehensively covers all the requirements of a guest self service app.
While standard hotel guest room technology may include a television, telephone, clock radio, internet access, electronic lock, valuables safe, and a refrigerated mini-bar, guest self-service applications – centered on hotel and concierge services – are becoming part of the amenities landscape. Hotels are redefining self-service in order to offer more choices designed to enhance the guest experience. Self-service as a market trend has gained momentum as guests increasingly expect and prefer self-service functionality within hotel guest rooms as opposed to a limited set of offerings dependent upon hotel staff. Self-service applications enable guests to request services, control transactions, research opportunities, create reservations, arrange transportation, and schedule activities. It is for these reasons that self-service applications are often described as “guest facing forward” applications.
Self-service applications may be resident on an in-room device (e.g. television, PC, or tablet PC) or downloadable to a guest’s mobile device (e.g. PDA, iPhone, or PC). Despite the functional platform, in-room applications tend to rely on lodging technology infrastructure and thereby may not incur significant incremental cost to deliver a plethora of self-service options. The goal of these self-service efforts is to empower clientele in a way that enhances the guest experience.
Most businesses report that self-service applications lead to a reduction in operating expenses while markedly improving customer satisfaction. Similar to other retailers, hoteliers appreciate the extended coverage, lower costs, and reliability of automated transactions found in in-room unattended applications. As a result, opportunities to conduct on-premises applications are welcomed alternatives; even for an industry that prides itself on personal, quality service.
While current technology is sufficient to effectively initiate guest-operated functionality, integration with a hotel’s property management system (PMS) and/or point-of-sale (POS) system provides a basis for monitoring and tracking service follow-through. Aggregated guest self-service transactions can be used to form the basis of a data warehouse of preferences, purchases, and services as well as staff response times. A data mining analysis can then be applied to correlate self-service outcomes with guest satisfaction, improved productivity, and strengthened profitability.
Continue reading the article on HotelExecutive.com by clicking here.