06 Mar 2014
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.”
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.
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.
- Explore surrounding area
- Increase average capacity
- Fill event space
- Room-serivce/catering menus
- Sell partner venue tickets
- Convenient transportation
- Business services
- 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.
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
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.
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.
Mobile users aren’t just playing Angry Birds or checking the local weather, 38% have used their mobile devices to plan a trip and 60% of respondents said they have downloaded travel apps on their mobile devices, according to a TripAdvisor survey.
While travelling, 62% of travelers said they use their mobile devices to research restaurants. 51% check their flight status and 46% research attraction, 28% have checked in to a restaurant, hotel or attraction using their mobile device while on a trip, according to TripAdvisor. (travelmole, May 2011). A research conducted by PhoCusWright shows that 75% of frequent business travelers (those making at least five trips a year) are smartphone owners. About half of frequent leisure travelers have smartphones.
There’s more than enough evidence for the hospitality industry to use mobile apps, and some hotels have already started and are successfully doing it.
The first step for hotels is to have a mobile website where clients could easily access all information about your hotel, the second step is having a mobile app that offers a better opportunity to create a close connection with your guests. Price for mobile app development has decreased lately and apps are available now also for small-independent hotels, not only for hotel chains and luxury hotels.
It’s not enough to only create a mobile app, in order to be successful it should also be included in the marketing mix. The app should be promoted on hotel’s website, in booking confirmation emails, in the correspondence with your guests and on other marketing materials.
Having a mobile app also sends a message that the hotel is up to date with the latest trends and implies that the rest of your services are high quality.
Hotels can use incentives to encourage people to download their app, such as discounts for products or services, special offers etc. Don’t be shy and try to push the app to as many users as possible, remember the mobile app can be the beginning of a close relationship with your guests. Include app download information on hotel brochures, key cards, on napkins, as part of the in-room entertainment system and on any place that is very visible.
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
16 Jan 2014
Highlights from the article by Jon Inge.
The expanding role of mobile technology continued to be a hot theme all year. Most chains and several independent properties launched or improved their own guest-facing apps for booking and loyalty program management, and many vendors added to the range of useful apps for hotel management and staff.
Blynk launched tablet-based E-Menu apps for restaurants, bars, cafes and lounges.
As usual, many vendors landed significant multi-property orders from clients looking to standardize their operations as much as possible. These included (in alphabetical order):
Blynk: The Park Group (12 properties in India)
16 Jan 2014
Highlights from the article in Hotel News Now.
The explosion in mobile devices has created a new distribution channel for hotels.
Approximately 55% of United States households have a smartphone and 44% a tablet, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. As a result of the growing popularity of Internet-enabled mobile devices, hotel companies are reporting a larger percentage of online sales from mobile platforms. For example, InterContinental Hotels Group reported mobile revenues of $330 million in 2012, accounting for 9.7% of online revenues, while Choice Hotels International stated in May 2013 that mobile bookings accounted for 13% of its online sales.
While most global hotel chains have mobile-friendly websites, they are now moving into hotel applications for smartphones and tablets. These apps serve a variety of functions, from booking hotels and monitoring loyalty accounts to locating nearby attractions.
Marriott International, Choice Hotels and Hyatt Hotels Corporation have one smartphone app that searches for all of their hotel brands. Marriott and Hyatt are well-known names thanks to their flagship brand sharing the name of their parent company, so it is likely guests are able to find these apps easily. The companies can capitalize on their strong brand recognition and provide an easy-to-use one-stop shop.
17 Dec 2013
Highlights from the article in Tnooz.
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.
16 Dec 2013
Highlights from the article in eMarketer.
Apps are a great way for hotels to personalize guest services, and hotels are using them for a range of purposes.
Many, if not all, of these services have long been provided by hotel staff, but mobile apps allow those offerings to reach much greater scale.
It’s this combination of customer service and engagement that makes mobile devices such a potentially effective means for hotels to connect with their clients.