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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.

Reproduced below is an excellent article from LMA Blog.

2013

 

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.

1. Website.
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.

3. Mobile.
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.

4. Apps.
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.

6. Tablets.
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)

Tour

Blynk is proud to be one of the first few companies to partner with TourWrist, the leading platform for 360* Virtual Tours. Read their announcement here, which they made at ITB Berlin.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

This article is from Hotel Management: Portrait of a High Tech Hotel: The Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel

The Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel

The Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel is famous for using some crazy things in tech. Well its Ibiza, you really can’t blame them.

Biometric PayTouch system

Facebook Sharing system

Guests (and visitors for the concerts) can sync their Facebook profile to a wristband that they can scan at seven pillars throughout the property.

iPads in Suites

More and more hotels are going mobile and social but none have embraced technology like this hotel.

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?

Read More

One of the first questions that pops in the mind of hoteliers, when we give demos of Blynk iHotel is, whether the cost of installing tablets has a reasonable ROI.

Besides all the advantages of enhancing guest experience and marketing opportunities, the investment in tablets can be offset by replacing the following in-room material.

Read More

We recently did a survey to find out if guests are interested to use hotel apps. Here are some key findings:

  • 65% said they would download the hotel app
  • 93% said they would use the app on a tablet from the hotel room
  • 93% said they would find such an app very useful

To get your own hotel app, contact us now.


© 2013 Blynk Systems Pvt Ltd. All Rights Reserved.