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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.

Mobile Buy Now

 

For the proactive hotelier the opportunities are endless but those that don’t pounce on it are destined to be left in the dust by their more savvy competitors.

For hoteliers, making sure your website is mobile enabled, accessible and user-friendly across all platforms is the critical first step. Once this has been undertaken, general managers can then begin to look at the infinite amount of ways to improve the hotel experience and potentially increase their revenue in the process.

Read the complete article here.

App Usage Google Analytics

We are excited to announce the release of new feature. All our customers will now receive powerful app usage analytic reports, powered by Google Analytics.

You will receive the report every month by email.

The report will give powerful data on app usage.

  • Number of users
  • Amount of time they spent
  • Devices used
  • Which pages the guests visited

From these reports, you can tweak the app content to further engage guests and to plan your in-app advertisements.

Some highlights from an article from EyeForTravel.

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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.

Blynk’s Thoughts

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.

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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.

Let the power of mobile transform your business. To get started with the Free Trial, email Blynk at i@blynk.it or sign up on their website at www.blynk.it.

About Blynk

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.

Media Contact:
Mr. Hiren Yadav, Head Marketing
Blynk
i@blynk.it
M: +91 9898 909 214
Skype: hiren.yadav1

Guest Self Service Apps

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.

We just read the below article on Tnooz: The Year In Review – Travelers and Hoteliers Turn to Mobile Apps. We could not agree more.

From marketing to booking to offering concierge services, 2012 was all about mobile technology. Whether for smartphones or tablets, for guests or employees, apps ruled the hotel scene, and the trend shows no sign at all of slowing down. In fact, an estimated $4 billion will be spent on near field communication devices in the coming year alone, according to Tnooz.com.

The Trends

Last week, Travelport, which provides business services to the travel industry, reported that 87 percent of those aged 35 and under, and 80 percent of those 36-45, owned or planned to purchase a smartphone in the next six months. This increased access to the internet anytime, anywhere, is changing the expectations, demands and behaviors of leisure travelers. Sixty percent of these travelers consider a smartphone to be their ‘personal travel assistant or companion’ enabling interaction to take place at any time. Both groups prefer to access pre-travel information via mobile technology, rather than through traditional devices. This indicates the importance of travel itineraries that can be integrated with other apps, and formats that are easily read on mobile devices.

Earlier this week, we reported that Expedia is seeing 20 percent of its sites’ transactions coming from mobile devices. Right now Expedia has more than 130 mobile websites and its mobile apps are available in more than 200 countries. (Notably, Expedia executives reported growth in same-day hotel booking. In March 2012, 16.6 percent of U.S. Expedia users booked their hotel room within 24 hours of departure, on a mobile device.)

In August, a Starwood survey of business travelers found that smartphones are the most popular device among overnight guests (74 percent), followed by tablets (65 percent), music players (43 percent) and laptops (32 percent). Chinese respondents were the only group to bump laptops out of the top four, in favor of cameras (30 percent).

According to UK industry website MeetPie.com, Wi-Fi will become less important with the surge in the 4G telecommunications network, and tablet sales will soar. Speaking at the 8th UK National Association Congress, Ian McAuliffe, director of content and publishing agency, Think Publishing, said: “11 percent of the UK population has a tablet, but it is expected that by this Christmas Day that figure will rise to 30 percent.” Interestingly, 100 percent of the 100 associations Think questioned in a recent survey said that they had online content and email newsletters, but only 19 percent had digital editions and mobile presence.

The Apps

It would take all day to list all of the new and redesigned apps for hotel guests here—so many have made their debut that one can pick just about any major hotel chain or company and find a mobile app to fit it. Even independent properties are getting in on the action.

But what’s notable are the apps that the hotel employees themselves use to run their business. Hotel Service Pro and SalesPro let hoteliers keep track of all their maintenance and service orders, or of sales and account data, respectively.

Looking ahead, mobile payment systems seem poised to become increasingly common in many businesses, including hotels. It may well be that by the time 2014 rolls around, a smartphone with a good collection of apps (and plenty of memory, of course) may be a necessity for hotel guests and hoteliers alike.

We just read an excellent article at HotelNewsNow.com titled 2013 – The Year Of 3 Screen Hospitality.

Some notable quotes from the article:

2013: The year of three-screen hospitality
Google projects an overall increase in number of search queries by 24% in 2013, but search data differs dramatically across the three device categories. Searches from mobile devices will experience an increase of 68%, while searches from tablets will increase by more than 180%. Desktop searches will experience a decline of 4%.

So what should hoteliers do get ready for the three-screen battle in 2013?

Begin by treating the desktop, mobile and tablet as three separate channels.

Desktop website. Make sure your desktop website is “in good health,” in order to comply with best practices in hotel distribution and to adhere to the industry’s best practices for design, site architecture and search-engine optimization. Most importantly, make sure it is compatible with the recent Google Panda and Freshness algorithm updates.

Mobile website. A hotel mobile website generates incremental revenue through mobile and voice reservations which, without a well-optimized, content-rich, property-specific mobile site, would go to the competition or to online travel agencies.

Tablet website. According to eMarketer, global tablet sales are projected to exceed 232 million in 2016, growing from 64 million in 2011. In 2013, there will be 75.6 million U.S. tablet users, up from 13 million in 2010. Hotel marketers should consider either enhancing their desktop website for the touch-screen tablet environment or building a tablet-only version of their website in addition to their desktop and mobile sites, which all should be managed via a single digital content depository-enabled content management system.

We believe that mobile and tablet will be more important for hotels sooner than estimated. We also believe that the right way to target mobile and tablet devices is through a property specific app. An app gives a far superior experience and can have more features on a mobile device than a mobile site.

 

I never easily trust companies when they tell me the total cost of ownership of their products and neither should you trust us when we say that it costs less than $0.50 / day when you buy a tablet.

But many companies have started renting out tablets especially to travellers. The latest is that XCom Global has started renting out the Google Nexus 7 at, hold your breadth, only $1 a day. If you don’t believe us, check out their website at http://www.xcomglobal.com. This means it must be costing them less than that, right?

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