A Blog by INTELITY

At Your Service

Presenting the latest innovation and trends in hospitality technology and the products that are revolutionizing the service industry.

mobile app

Is This The End Of The Hotel App?

Is it too late for the hotel app to catch on among travelers or is there still hope for hospitality to use mobile for innovation?

There’s an app for that! The phrase became popular after Apple introduced the App Store in 2008 (the same year Intelity went to market), signaling the start of the golden age of apps. Years later, hotel apps have finally become a major focus for investment among the hospitality industry. But has the hospitality industry waited too long to embrace the mobile hotel app?

There has been recent speculation about the role that apps will play in the future.

There are more mobile devices than humans on the planet.

App downloads have steadily decreased in recent years. Nearly half of smartphone users reportedly don’t download any new apps at all.

But mobile technology itself is more popular than ever. There are more mobile devices than humans on the planet, and the number of devices is growing more quickly than our population. Not to mention, the average smartphone user checks their phone incessantly throughout the day – an average of 85 times per day in fact.

In reality, apps are NOT dead. Mobile users are still spending a lot of time within apps, and not only on their smartphones. Apps are also popular on many other devices, even TVs.

What has died is an easy opportunity for app developers or brands looking for a mobile connection with consumers. With about 4 million different apps available, mobile users are selective with the limited real estate in memory on their devices. Most use an average of only 26 apps in total. In fact, 70 percent of all app usage is spread among only the top 200 apps.

“You’ll still interface with wearables/robotics and features using apps.”

Current interest has shifted to chatbots as a means to open two-way communication between brands in industries like hospitality and customers, enhancing the significance of hotel apps.

One industry commentator observes, “Apps become ever more important in a smartphone-centric wearables/robotics/voice-controlled/artificial intelligence-dominated world. You’ll still interface with those wearables/robotics and features using apps.”

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the incorporation of bots into popular video and text messaging app Skype, he said, “Intelligence is infused into all of your apps.”

Hotel apps must have obvious value. They must be worth the time it takes to download and engage with them. They should provide a fluid, thoughtful experience that serves the best interests of the end-user by providing them with convenience, benefits, and a voice that is heard by the brand they want to interact with.

A hotel app has great potential to aid in cultivating satisfied, loyal guests if hospitality can figure out how to embrace innovation and prove to guests that this category of apps is designed with their best interest at heart. Features such as Messaging, Mobile Check-In/Out, and Mobile Key are a step in this direction, but it’s up to hoteliers to become more forward thinking in taking advantage of the opportunity that mobile presents to create a much-needed refreshment in the guest experience.

Hotel Technology at Boston Harbor Hotel

Read about this hotel technology love story in the heart of Boston at the iconic Boston Harbor Hotel.

Arching majestically over the Rowes Wharf, the Boston Harbor Hotel is renowned for impeccable service and personalized attention to hotel guests that rivals any other luxury accommodation in the city.

The property boasts a number of different awards in recognition of the high priority placed on guest satisfaction TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Winner, Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards, U.S. News & World Report Best Hotels in the USA, etc). It’s also got the distinguishing credentials of both five stars and four diamonds.

In other words, it’s the embodiment of a love letter to its guests.

Stephen Johnston, Managing Director and General Manager, says, “We listen to our guests a lot. We’ve very engaged as a Five-Star hotel.”

It was an interest in maintaining this high level of guest engagement, and even deepening the connection, that led Boston Harbor Hotel to invest in new hotel technology through a partnership with industry innovator INTELITY. What better way to woo both new and returning travelers who wound up in the hotel’s lobby than with modern touches that facilitate communication, service, and engagement?

“When INTELITY was first sold to me, I liked it because we didn’t have much technology in the hotel, but we knew it was time to introduce some,” Stephen says.

And following the release of a customized hotel app, in addition to the installation of hotel in-room tablets in each of the guest rooms, the Boston Harbor Hotel has already noticed dramatic improvements.

Increased in-room dining revenue, reduced operational costs, and positive guest feedback was only the start of the benefits realized.

Read more about how we helped foster hotel technology love among staff and guests at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

5 Benefits of Mobile Device Management for Hotels

With the BYOD trend in hotels on the rise, hoteliers are facing challenges in meeting the expectations of both guests and staff who are carrying an increasing number of mobile devices. The benefits of mobile are plentiful, but ensuring efficient use throughout an organization can be difficult.

Availability of mobile device management (MDM) to the hospitality industry has brought about improvements in this arena by allowing hotels to take control of the hotel enterprise mobile technology trend.

Mobile device management (MDM) is defined as a solution that allows for “the administration of mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablet computers, laptops, and desktop computers.” It isn’t just a hotel technology trend buzzword. As more hotels see an increase in travelers carrying mobile devices and as hotel rooms become fitted for advanced technology, such as hotel in-room tablets, enterprise mobility tools are going to continue to increase in value to simplify these hotel technology upgrades.

Remote Management of Devices

With more connected devices on your property than staff, MDM solutions assist in monitoring and managing these in a more efficient way. For instance, many hotels are now installing in-room tablets in guest rooms as a way to improve guest service and engagement. Hotel MDM is the best way to easily get these up and running, as well as perform ongoing maintenance. Using MDM in hotels, devices on the network can be remote wiped or have diagnostics run for troubleshooting.

Regulation of Applications

Hotel apps are more popular than ever and providing complimentary access to these on hotel tablets has become extremely popular in the hospitality industry. Using a hotel MDM solution, hotel management can select which apps they want to load or disable on devices across the network to create a superior digital staff and guest experience.

Data Protection and Backup

Data management using a hotel MDM solution can reduce the risk of costly incidents relating to exposure and breach. Hoteliers can use mobile device management to protect data and prevent leaks or wipe data completely from unauthorized user devices.

Expanded Security Features

Security of hotel digital networks and guest data is a top priority for many hoteliers, and there’s been discussion over how to enhance hotel security when it comes to network use, especially from mobile devices. Hotel MDM use can allow for expansion of security measures, such as requiring authentication of all devices and active monitoring of registered devices. It can also allow for tracking the physical location of devices on the network to reduce hardware theft or loss.

Establishing Network Use Policies

Every hotel should have a policy in place regarding the use of any networks, and this policy should apply to staff and guests alike. A mobile device management solution can assist in enforcing and solidifying this policy by consolidating regulation in the hands of those overseeing the network. Useful features include defining WiFi settings, setting compliance guidelines, and optimizing the function of the network overall.

Read the first part of our series on Mobile Device Management for Hotels and Hospitality for more on the specific uses of this hotel technology trend.

Hilton Looks to Replicate Success of Conrad Concierge Mobile App

Hilton is looking to bring digital guest services to its entire portfolio in the same vein as the Conrad Concierge app did for its Conrad properties.

Hilton Worldwide is looking to increase its focus on mobile technology as a way to more competitively connect with the hotel brand’s guests. Hotel mobile technology has become the premier method for hospitality to reach guests in a way that is direct and immediate. It’s also unobtrusive, given that downloading a hotel app or opting in for communication is required before a connection can take place.

In 2012, Hilton launched Conrad Concierge with number one hotel app developer Intelity as an experiment. It was the first service-enabled hotel brand app made available, and it surpassed 180,000 users in less than two years.

A number of factors, including the success of Conrad Concierge app and the surge of hotel guest demand for mobile technology, have now led Hilton to begin a roll out of a new mobile strategy to engage guests through a hotel app similar to Conrad Concierge. The roll out will include a number of Hilton’s brands, such as Waldorf Astoria and DoubleTree.

The hotel app aims to increase sign ups for the Hilton HHonors loyalty program and provide innovative mobile concierge services to guests. Mobile is also viewed as a way to be competitive against indirect room bookings using channels such as online travel agencies like Priceline. Access to a suite of mobile features will serve as an incentive to get guests to download the app.

Using the hotel brand app on a smartphone, hotel guests will be able to pick a specific guest room, use mobile check-in, open the door to their hotel room with a mobile key, and access digital hotel services.

In an interview with The Drum, Geraldine Calpin, Hilton Worldwide global head of marketing and digital, said, “We are using digital to create a better stay experience, and we will continue to innovate in that digital hospitality experience because for us it’s about a better experience.”

“In some cases, people don’t want to talk to people, so enabling digital and technology to provide guests with more choices and control over their stay is what we want to do. The big thing is how can we make that easier and with less friction for our guests.”

(Video: John Vanderslice, VP of Hilton Worldwide Lifestyle & Luxury Brands, talks to Bloomberg TV from Intelity on Vimeo.)

Travelers Prefer Mobile Hotel Technology to Toothbrushes

Are hospitality technology trends innovating hotel rooms quickly enough to maintain guest satisfaction at peak levels?

Mobile hotel technology is a hot topic when it comes to hospitality technology trends and the future of the industry. Report after report has established that hotel guests love mobile devices for engagement and guest service, such as through a virtual hotel concierge.

Travelers now carry more mobile devices than ever (three to four on average for business travelers). And 60 percent of general global travelers say they wouldn’t vacation at all without a mobile device, while nearly 4 in 10 say they’re more dependent on mobile devices when on vacation than at home.

Mobile devices are more important to your hotel guests than anything else in their suitcase, according to new surveys. Items that ranked below or equal to mobile devices in importance:

  • Car
  • Deodorant
  • Laptop/PC
  • TV
  • Microwave
  • Coffee
  • Social Networking

What about the Millennials in your hotel? Mobile phones not only ranked above these items for the majority of them but also toothbrushes and the Internet. Mobile technology is so vital to your hotel guests that nearly half in any age demographic would reportedly give up alcohol to recover a smartphone that was taken away.

With information like this, why is it that some hotels offer toothbrushes and toothpaste but still haven’t invested in fully incorporating mobile technology into the hotel guest experience?

It’s been about a decade since the first iPhone was released. The time for hotels to embrace mobile technology is now.

New mobile hotel technology, such as hotel in-room tablets and hotel apps, are more readily available than ever. And the potential ROI of mobile technology in hotels far outweighs the initial investment required.

Hotel guests are already showing a strong positive response to new mobile hotel technology, including both hotel apps and hotel in-room tablets.

The Crawford Hotel in Denver, Colorado, placed hotel tablets in all of its 112 guest rooms and also made a hotel app available for download to guests’ personal devices. Guests are able to use this hotel technology to send requests with the hotel staff, look up information, stream music, and read digital newspapers and magazines in the hotel rooms.

A year after opening, the hotel reported a positive impact on both guest engagement and communication with hotel staff. More than 3,000 total guest requests were sent via personal mobile devices, mainly smartphones, to the front desk and 41 percent of the hotel’s bookings were mobile.

The hotel aims to stay on the leading edge of hospitality technology trends by adopting mobile key sometime soon to expedite the guest check-in process and improve guest satisfaction even further.

It’s a fact. Guests love mobile hotel technology. So instead of offering your guests toothbrushes, consider offering them what they’ve shown they really want: mobile engagement.

Tips For A Better Hotel App From: Google Travel

Borrow from Google to create the best hotel app possible.

Google has slowly but steadily been making headway when it comes to the travel industry, with a collection of mobile apps designed to make travel easier. Google Travel is a product capable of serving as a digital travel agent or trip planner and more. It exemplifies the concept of mobile-first as well, due to the heavy use of mobile by travelers.

Here are some takeaways from Google for developing a better hotel app.

Search Filters

Ease of use is key to gaining and keeping users for a hotel app, or really any app at that. Being able to navigate an app without confusion is a major draw, and this should be kept in mind during the hotel app development process.

Google is a master of online search, being the go-to Internet search engine of choice for so long now, and their travel features reflect this. Various search filters can be applied by travelers looking to plan a trip or perform mobile hotel bookings, such as location, price and hotel type. These make it extremely easy for users of Google’s apps to find exactly what they want quickly and efficiently.

Exclusive Deals

What better reason could there be for guests to use a hotel app than saving money? It adds incentive to taking the time to download and retain an app if there are exclusives offered through it that can’t be found on a company’s website or through a third party.

To note, Google even sends notifications to travelers about when great prices are available for their desired flights and hotels. The additional convenience shows true thoughtfulness for improving the user experience, and hospitality should be all about exceptional guest experience, no matter the channel or method through which it’s delivered. Convenience and financial discounts will no doubt increase the appeal and result in a better hotel app.

Complete Travel Experience Management

Google Travel features don’t focus solely on mobile hotel booking. Travelers can also access flight information, maps and directions, suggestions for building a vacation itinerary, and more.

A hotel app can be more useful if it presents multi-dimensional features that focus on the full travel experience, even before or after a guest’s stay. Incorporating useful information, such as flight information, maps, social media access, and hotel concierge recommendations for exploring the local area, will delight hotel app users and give them a reason to open a hotel app time and time again.

Constant Innovation

If there’s one inspiring takeaway from Google Travel (or Google in general) it’s the value of constant innovation. In order to develop the best hotel app, it’s necessary to experiment and take risks, not just follow the crowd. Thinking outside the box and jumping on leading trends can be difficult to justify, but being a hotel technology leader can pay off in the long run with modern guests who appreciate the conveniences afforded by digital amenities.