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The Newest of the New Generation Hotels: Hetras Helps Travel24 Rewrite the Rules

For the first time, an online travel agency launches its own chain

Travel24 Interior

Hetras, the technology provider for new generation hotels, and Travel24, an established German online travel agency, have announced a long-term partnership to support the launch of Travel24’s new hotel brand.

The first property, a 170-room hotel in a reconstructed historic Leipzig building, is set to open in 2015. Travel24 plans to open 24 additional hotels over the next five to seven years. Like most new generation hotels, the Travel24 properties will offer eye-catching style, convenient locations and quality amenities at attractive prices. But Travel24 will add its own twists. Guests receive a 2D bar code with their reservation. This bar code, with which guests are already familiar through air and train travel, serve as an identification upon check-in and check-out and can be used to operate the hotel kiosks as well. hetras is largely responsible for the design, development and integration of the technology.

The real novelty of the concept, however, is the fact that Travel24 is already well known as an online travel agency. The combination of an OTA with a hotel chain creates unprecedented possibilities.

“As an online travel agency, it is imperative that we maintain a neutral position towards all of our hotel partners, including our own,” explained Armin Schauer, CEO of Travel24 (pictured right). “The difference is not on the OTA side but on the hotel side. Our hotels do not need to differentiate between the direct and indirect channel. After all, each channel is essentially commission-free.”

“Travel24 is indeed stretching the definition of new generation, yet this is nothing new for us,” added Tanja Baier, senior account manager at hetras. “Virtually all of our customers have pioneered new technologies and we are always excited to be at the forefront of change.”

“Our choice for hetras was simple,” continued Schauer, a former executive at Accor. “We looked for vendors with positive references and experience in, among other areas, kiosks, OTA integration and digital signature technology. Only hetras could check off all the boxes. It’s no surprise that hetras is the standard for new generation chains.”

Source: http://www.hospitalitynet.org/

The World’s Most Hi-Tech Hotels

As consumer demands advance alongside technology, these hotels are responding with iPads, concierge robots and Google Glass

The Yotel, New York

By Victoria Monk

8:00AM BST 25 Sep 2014

Comments1 Comment

A robot concierge waiting politely to take your luggage, personalised mood-lighting at the swipe of an iPad and virtual postcards. This is just a taster of what’s on offer at the world’s most hi-tech hotels.

Novotel München Messe, Munich

Here, guests are not only welcomed by a real concierge, but also a virtual one. There are impressively large touch screens distributed around the hotel, offering accessible information on local attractions, weather and flight information. Guests can even send a virtual postcard at the tap of a button.

Yotel, New York

Self-service kiosks greet guests at this New York Hotel. In the mean time an automated robot, known to the staff as amicable YOBOT, will help you with your luggage and stow away your valuables in a safe deposit. Bedrooms come equipped with techno walls that have the ability to stream audio, super strength Wi-Fi and air conditioning is activated by motion sensors.

Eccleston Square, London

While the exterior of Eccleston Square emanates history, technology is at the heart of this hotel and is reflected in the extensive list of techno-amenities. Rooms are equipped with touch sensitive keypads to control music and lighting, an in-room iPad which doubles as your personal concierge, shower walls that turn from clear to frosted at the touch of a button and flat screen televisions concealed within bathroom mirrors.

W Taipei, Taipei

W Taipei is located in the hub of cosmopolitan life, right in the centre of the vibrant Xinyi district. It boasts state-of-the-art technology with large LCD flat screen televisions, modern sound systems as well as some of the suites offering video projectors.

Blow Up Hall 5050, Poznan

An enormous digital art installation captures guests entering this hotel and then projects the image back in a series of stylised surveillance shots. Instead of room keys guests are handed iPhones upon check-in that use digital recognition to navigate users to the correct room and unlock the door.

Prizeotel, Hamburg

Each of the rooms in this Hamburg hotel has a hi-tech music lamp that allows guests to listen to music via Bluetooth, recharge mobile phones or make phone calls as well as a flat screen television. Business travellers may also benefit from the Work&Surf Station and the digital newspaper kiosk.

Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine, Spain

This hotel, 120 miles north of Madrid, is the first hotel in Europe to offer Google Glass – free – to guests. Annie Bennett who visited Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine earlier this year, was surprised at how easily she could take photos and make videos.

If you haven’t come across it yet, Google Glass is a spectacles frame without lenses but with a clear plastic, rectangular prism mounted on the right-hand side. This prism forms a virtual screen on which you can access the internet, just like on a smartphone or tablet, only with a roll of your eye rather than the stroke of a fingertip.

Hotel 1000, Seattle

Built-in infrared detectors alert housekeeping staff as to when a room is occupied, thus avoiding any unwanted post-shower encounters. Hotel 1000 also has a fully converged IP infrastructure that allows guests to choose their own room temperature, artwork and music.

The Peninsula Hotel, Tokyo

No hi-tech hotels list would be complete without a representative from Japan. Guests at The Peninsula have access to an electronics service department if they run into difficulties with gadgets that include a nail polish dryer, unlimited internet radio with over 3,000 stations, a mood lighting pad and wireless phones with Skype capability. Also, the hotel is currently offering children who stay a digitally-interactive Pokemon treasure hunt, brought to life by augmented reality.

Citizen M, Amsterdam

Check-in is also automated here at Citizen M, with everything done through a self-serve computer. Each of the rooms comes equipped with its own ‘Mood Pad’ allowing guests to navigate the lighting, temperature, curtains and television to create the perfect ambiance.

Read the Citizen M hotel review here

Mama Shelter, Paris

As well as being very chic, each of the rooms in this hotel is fitted with an iMac entertainment system. This allows guests to watch television, free movies on demand, listen to the radio, connect to the internet and use Airplay and Skype.

A recent HRS ‘Hotel of the Future’ survey revealed that smartphones, tablets and corresponding apps are becoming increasingly important when planning a holiday.

The findings showed that 42 per cent of guests from the UK would rather operate their hotel room’s lighting, air conditioning and television via a display instead of using a separate remote control or switch.

Jon West, managing director for HRS UK and Ireland, said: “As the fast-paced high-tech world finds its way into hotels with tablets instead of guest folders, smartphones instead of room keys, and apps instead of remote controls, the findings show that the hotel industry quickly needs to adapt to the new user behaviour of many of their guests or risk falling behind.”

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Food Delivery Robots Mark New Era for Hospital Catering

WA’s Fiona Stanley Hospital will be home to free-roaming food delivery robots along with cutting-edge cooking and fully traceable food safety protocols when it opens next week.

The hospital will feature 18 automated guided vehicles equipped with a combination of GPS, proximity sensors, wi-fi and powerful computing with the capability of delivering up to 2,200 meals direct to wards each day. Furthermore, this is all completed without human intervention once the robot has left the hospital kitchen, The West reports.

According to Serco’s soft services manager Breffni Doyle, (Serco being the patient catering service at the hospital) the robots have the ability to communicate with the hospital systems by wi-fi, enabling it to deliver food right across the campus. The technology is so sophisticated that the robots can even call for a lift to deliver food across numerous levels of the complex.

Serco’s head chef Steve Newson said that the robots will significantly improve efficiencies in the kitchen, in addition to providing a more enjoyable dining experience for patients.

“The technology means food is not held too long and the time between cooking and delivery is significantly reduced,” said Newson.

“We want to make the dining experience as rich and enjoyable as possible. We buy in fresh vegetables, steaming them and chilling them ourselves. All our wet dishes are made on site from scratch.”

Patients at Fiona Stanley Hospital will be able to order their meals via a patient entertainment system.

Source: www.hospitalitymagazine.com.au

Gaming Industry Mobile Solutions Leaders Form Resort Mobile Solutions Alliance (RMSA)

Several of the gaming industry’s most innovative mobile solutions providers today announced the formation of the Resort Mobile Solutions Alliance (RMSA)RMSAwas formed to help resorts and casinos to: a) understand the opportunities for enhancing operational efficiencies and improving customer service using enterprise-class mobile technology, and b) select the most appropriate mobile apps and infrastructure to bring them to life at their properties.

Resorts, and particularly casinos, face unique challenges of regulation, privacy and performance parameters as compared to other industries. RMSA will offer best practices white papers, educational events, and other reference information to help resorts and casinos keep abreast of evolving mobile technologies, as well as provide guidance and appropriate assessment to successfully deploy them for maximum competitive advantage.

RMSA‘s initial focus includes helping resorts understand, select, configure and deploy Wi-Fi systems for best performance on a given budget with special emphasis on reliable coverage, encryption, extensibility and performance during emergencies, including power outages.

Additionally, RMSA will help the industry to define operational standards including appropriate jurisdiction certification minimal requirements, enterprise system connectivity best practices, mobile device app and user management guidelines, and mobile app interoperability / compatibility recommendations.

Lastly, RMSA will strive to ensure the mobile apps provided by its Member Organizations are capable, within the limits of technology, of operating on mobile devices that simultaneously run apps from other providers.

RMSA‘s founding Member Organizations include:

  • Acres 4.0, a leading provider of operations-enhancing mobile solutions
  • Resort Advantage, the recognized leader in mobile compliance solutions for the gaming industry
  • William Ryan Group, a trusted provider of Real Time Action™ solutions managing every customer interaction

“Our commitment to heavily invest in the development in our cutting-edge mobile technology solutions will provide our casino customers with enhanced patron experiences with immediate cost-savings,” said John Acres, Founder/CEO of Acres 4.0 &RMSA Co-Founder. “RMSA will allow us to revolutionize the resort and casino industry with our combined innovated mobile technology solutions.”

“RA is excited to provide our wealth of mobile solutions knowledge and real-world mobile experiences to the gaming industry,” said Brian Ferrilla, Managing Director of Resort Advantage & RMSA Co-Founder. “Forming this much-needed RMSA association will provide the resources to help properties invest in the right mobile technologies that yield the biggest return for their mobile app investments.”

“The customer journey, brand interaction, and internal operations of each resort and casino are counting on management to deploy trusted mobile systems across all departments,” said Robert John Hendrickson, President of The William Ryan Group, Inc. “RMSA leverages the consolidated solutions and experience of our expert partner organizations to insure that Casinos and Resorts adopt the appropriate strategies to support seamless mobile implementations.”

RMSA membership is open to anyone in the casino-resort industry. To participate in our trade association, or to receive updates about our progress, please email your contact info to info@rmsa.mobi.com.

About Acres 4.0
Acres 4.0 designs cutting-edge casino solutions that allow operators to take advantage of the newest consumer technologies today rather than years down the road. These innovations allow immediate cost savings and enhanced customer experiences at a price casinos can easily integrate into their existing budgets. For more information, please visit www.acres4.com or hear what Kai customers have to say at ilovekai.acres4.com. Visit us at G2E Booth #1636

About Resort Advantage
As the makers of the award-winning Title 31 Accelerator™Slots Jackpot Accelerator™SAR Workflow Accelerator™and Incident Report Accelerator™ suite of desktop and mobile compliance applications, Resort Advantage continues to lead the gaming industry with its innovations. Resort Advantage’s Complete FinCEN / IRS Compliance Solution has set the gold standard for desktop and mobile FinCEN / IRS compliance management and reporting and is the solution of choice for the industry’s most prominent casino properties. For more information, visit www.resort-advantage.com.

Source: www.hospitalitynet.org

Teleporting and Robots: It’s Time For Hotels to Quit the Gimmicks

Teleporting, Robots and Dog Sleds: It's Time For Hotels to Quit the Gimmicks

Will this little box really transport us to a tropical beach? (Photo: Marriott Hotels)

The latest hospitality trend these days is taking extreme, and often unnecessary, measures to impress hotel guests. We’re not talking basic room upgrades and an artisanal chocolate on your pillow.

We’re talking teleportation chambers and robot butlers.

In some ways, we commend these hotels for making such an effort and introducing us to unique experiences. But we also wonder if it’s really worth all the money they are spending.

Last week, Marriott began offering guests teleportation. Sort of. Marriott’s latest publicity stunt is the teleporter, based in Oculus Rift technology. It transports guests to Maui and London in a fully immersive 4D virtual reality experience. All you have to do is step inside the booth.

To be fair, the teleporter is an interesting step in the right direction of revolutionizing in-room entertainment in hotels, but it still feels awfully gimmicky. Check out eight other ways hotels are trying to attract attention these days.

1. Robots!

image

Great for robot selfies, but not much else.

Only a month before Marriott launched the teleporter, robots invaded a Starwood hotel. Starwood is testing new robot butlers at its Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, California, and plansto expand to the rest of Starwood’s hotels in 2015. Aptly named Botlrs, these machines can navigate the hotel and fulfill guest requests, allowing the actual humans working to spend their time doing other things.

Forget the robot butler, though. How about a robot that records your sleep? It’s not as creepy as it sounds; there is no actual robot in the room with you. For their Sleep Art campaign, a few Ibis hotels filled select beds with sensors that send signals as you sleep to a robot that turns those signals into art. It actually sounds pretty amazing, albeit extreme and a little uncomfortable.

Source: www.yahoo.com

WiFi – Free or Pay?

Most articles on this subject prompt a veritable tsunami of comments from social-media-literate, business travelers, who find it inconceivable that any hotel could ever be justified in charging for Internet access. Do they have a point?

The Guest’s Perspective

The need to remain connected has become almost ubiquitous and it isn’t just a business requirement. Leisure hotels now show the largest year on year growth in WiFi usage. Hotels.com recently released a survey where hotel guests stated that free WiFi was the most desired in-room amenity. Some people have even adapted Mazlo’s traditional “Hierarchy of Needs” to illustrate how the WiFi has taken over our lives.

WiFi - Free or Pay? | By Graeme Powell

Given that background, it is hardly surprising that protagonists such as Andrew Zobler CEO of The Sydell Group state: “To charge for WiFi is just terrible. It’s like charging for water, something you just don’t do. Having really good WiFi and having it free is critical.”

Others take a more financially based approach, and compare the cost they are charged in a hotel with the price they pay for access at home. They typically conclude that the former provides very poor value for money in comparison with the latter, and that hotels are therefore fleecing customers in the same way as they did with telephony, before mobile phones turned hotel-provided in-room phones into “the most expensive paging system in history” (according to Nick Price former CTO of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group).

There is also the paradox of where free WiFi is available. This applies both not only within hotels but also across the hospitality industry. The argument goes along the lines of: why should hotels charge for WiFi when cafés and restaurants often provide free access? The paradox becomes even stranger when you consider that the majority of budget / select service hotels provide free access, whilst luxury hotels continue to charge. To those who are used to the way airlines operate, it is counter-intuitive for the premium hotel brands to have add-ons when the “no frills operators” bundle everything in the headline price.

The Hotelier’s Perspective

Hoteliers with whom I have worked have often complained of “amenity creep.” Is WiFi in 2014 just another example of this, or are there reasons why some may hold out against offering the service free to all?

Let’s look at some of the arguments. Since these are usually ignored when this topic is discussed, I have decided to go through them in a little more detail.

First of all, the investment in the network. Many hotels would argue that to provide an enterprise grade WiFi network throughout a hotel is expensive. There are three main factors driving this:

  • Handheld devices now account for over two-thirds of hotel connections
  • Congestion in the 2.4 GHz wavelength has led to a requirement for 5 GHz connectivity
  • Density rather than coverage is the driving factor in public and conference space

Many of us have noticed the phenomenon in our own homes, that good WiFi connectivity for our laptop does not mean good WiFi connectivity for our mobile phones or tablets. This is a result of the weaker antennae in handheld devices. It is the same in the hotel environment. However, it is clearly not acceptable for two-thirds of desired users to be unable to access the WiFi, so additional Access Points (APs) have to be installed.

The beauty and the curse of WiFi is that it is that both the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz wavelengths are unlicensed spectrum (does anyone in Europe remember the costly auctions for licensed 3G spectrum?). However, the fact that it is unlicensed also means lots of other devices can use it. The 2.4 GHz spectrum is particularly crowded with interference from WiFi itself, cordless phones, microwaves, etc. This has led to a significant increase in the number of so called dual-band devices, which can operate in both the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz wavelengths. Although potential speeds are greater and interference is currently lower in the 5.0 GHz spectrum, the downside is that the area of coverage from a given AP is reduced. This has also led to a need to install additional APs.

Unfortunately, the requirement for hotels to install more and more APs does not stop there.

According to the recent iPass Hospitality Findings Report, the average business traveller now carries 2.68 devices. Anecdotal evidence suggests that leisure travellers now exhibit similar characteristics. Enterprise grade APs can usually cope with between 50 and 100 simultaneous users per aerial. Because of the number of devices we now carry, it is possible to fit more devices into the coverage area of an AP in an open space than that particular AP can support. As a result, hotels with large conference rooms or public spaces again have to install more APs.

The end result of all of these technical issues is that a typical European hotel installation in a luxury hotel can now easily cost in excess of €80,000 for a 200 bedroom hotel.

Secondly there is the ongoing cost. There are two aspects to this – the costs of the data line and the support fee.

Data lines are an area where the overall speed bandwidth requirement has grown massively over time and that growth looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. This growth is being driven by growth in all the different drivers for bandwidth. More people want to be online, more devices are being brought to hotels by guests and these devices are consuming more data than before. As a result, most hotels should now be looking at fibre data lines providing 100 Mbps or above. Whilst in metropolitan areas this might cost about €1,000 per month, in more remote locations it could cost considerably more to get a circuit with business level SLAs.

The requirement for support is an area where expectations differ greatly between the hotel and restaurant sectors. Within cafés, I have often experienced situations where obtaining fast secure reliable WiFi access was difficult, but have been left to my own devices to try and resolve it. This is not acceptable within a hotel, where the service must not only be properly supported but also provide enterprise grade security. Not surprisingly, the major international brands all require 24/7 multilingual support. Even though average call rates have dropped from about 5% of users in the wired days to less than 0.5% of users now, the requirement to provide quality multilingual support and rapid replacement of equipment drives cost. Overall the cost for this would be nearly as much as the data line, resulting in operating costs of c. €10 / room / month for a quality service, roughly equaling the initial capital cost of the network over a three year period.

Additionally, despite the widespread use of WiFi and the vociferous comments of these users, WiFi is not used by everyone. Certainly not everyone requires large datalines. This gives rise to the classic economist’s problem of the so called “free rider” issue, where someone uses a service without bearing the cost of providing that service.

There is a Solution

An international hotelier once told me, “Ideally, we would like to charge the high usage guests an amount which means we could provide free access to everyone else.”

Is this practical? Well maybe.

Here is some of the data I have derived by looking at numerous hotel networks in recent years:

  • 70% of users transfer 125M or less of data in a session – these are the people who are just checking email and ensuring they are up to date on news, sport and social media
  • 5% of users transfer more than 1G of data in a session – some even transfer as much as 700G in a session
  • These “super-users” account for more than 70% of all data transferred across the network
  • The majority of the “super-users” upload more data than they download – to me this implies either they are using hotels to “spam” others or they are transferring large amounts of data to other people

So data usage in a hotel network is even more skewed towards super-users than the 80:20 rule would imply. Were these super-users to be charged €10 per session, our standard 200 bedroom hotel would be able to generate over €1,500 per month, covering most of their operating costs. Although this does not the cover the infrastructure investment, the data analysis of the myriad of guests’ interaction tools opens up even more possibilities (which I may talk about in another article).

It seems logical to me that the small number of users who are driving the majority of the cost should pay, whilst the large number of users who are merely “dipping their toe in the Internet pool” should be provided with free access.

It isn’t enough to just offer tiered WiFi. However, if all hotels offered tiered access, for six devices, using in-room dual-band APs, on fibre data lines wouldn’t the world, or at least the hospitality industry, be a better place!

Source: www.hospitalitynet.org

Revinate Announces inGuest™, a revolutionary Guest Engagement Platform for the Hospitality Industry

With inGuest, hotels can maximize revenue by knowing their guests, anticipating their needs and executing precisely targeted marketing campaigns

Revinate

Revinate, the San Francisco-based technology company that is reinventing the hotel guest experience, today introduces inGuest, a new platform that turns guest data into revenue for hoteliers. Already launched at leading hotels, inGuest increases guest satisfaction and revenue by improving the way hoteliers engage with guests before, during and after their stays. inGuest delivers social guest profiles and extends hotel services to guests via their own mobile devices, increasing engagement and opening new communication and revenue channels.

The core of inGuest’s revolutionary value is the power to connect reservation data with both social data and guest feedback to build rich social guest profiles, considered “the holy grail” by many hoteliers. For the first time, hoteliers can deeply know their guests, personalize their service, identify VIPs and automatically surface guest preferences and interests. To fuel this new level of engagement, inGuest delivers precisely targeted engagement campaigns based not only on booking, loyalty and PMS data, but also Revinate’s treasure trove of social, feedback and online reputation data.

The groundbreaking guest intelligence delivered by inGuest fundamentally improves the way hotels engage with their guests. Never before has a single solution allowed hoteliers to manage guest interaction across the entire guest cycle, from booking to post-stay in such an easy and fully integrated way.

“Before inGuest, hoteliers looking to better understand and engage with guests needed to cobble together numerous legacy systems,” says Jay Ashton, Revinate’s co-founder and CEO. “The result was an expensive, complex system that could not produce a singular guest profile. inGuest harnesses all guest data into rich social profiles and enables precise, dynamic targeting. Our goal is to make it easy for hoteliers to better engage with guests in order to maximize revenue and satisfaction.”

Always seeking to better understand guests, increase guest engagement and raise the bar of its service levels, Hotel Griffon in San Francisco, a Revinate customer since 2010, was among the first properties to deploy inGuest. Norbert Mede, General Manager, says, “We are always looking for ways to extend our world-class service to our guests. inGuest provides a platform enabling guests to reach us 24/7, tailoring our communication options to an increasingly tech savvy guest base and ensuring our guest outreach is on-message and targeted to the individual. With inGuest, we now have a powerful solution that enables new levels of personalized service and targeted marketing, while opening up new revenue streams and increasing guest satisfaction.”

The inGuest platform incorporates:

  • A Fully Customized Mobile App (iOS, Android & Mobile Web) for each hotel, including:
    • Advanced Check-In: preferences and upgrade requests can be made before arrival to ensure a frictionless experience and drive new revenue.
    • Room Service Ordering: guests can use their own mobile devices in their room, at the pool or anywhere on site to order food and beverages.
    • Service Requests: any need can be addressed and serviced quickly through the mobile app and text messaging.
    • Reservation Requests: an easy way for guests to reserve a table, book a tee-time or set a spa appointment at the hotel.
    • Concierge Connect: the fastest way to request restaurant reservations, book tours and get local recommendations.
  • The Request Center: a sophisticated request management solution that includes tracking, escalation and two-way communication with guests via email, text messaging (SMS) and app notifications. inGuest can also integrate with existing solutions.
  • Guest Profiles: Rich guest data, including PMS data, stay histories, historical requests, on-site requests, preferences, social activity and status on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, online review data from top review sites across the web and post-stay feedback.
  • Guest Marketing: A powerful platform for sending targeted, automated communications and event-driven or recurring promotions to past, present or future guests via text message (SMS), email and app notifications, driving new revenue.
  • Revinate’s Guest Feedback Suite: a powerful solution for hotels to capture, measure and optimize the guest experience by bringing together all online reviews, survey data and social media mentions into a single, integrated system.
    • The Guest Feedback Suite includes Revinate’s market-leading solution for Online Reputation Management, Post-Stay Surveys and On-Site Surveys.

After a highly successful pilot program with proven ROI and rave reviews from both hoteliers and guests, inGuest is currently launching with many leading hotels including Hotel Durant, Jefferson Street Inn, Hotel Jerome, Sentinel, and many more.

Source: www.hospitalitynet.com

GEO-Location by RoamingAround is Stimulating Mobile App Use and a Quick ROI

Hoteliers can now push relevant and micro-targeted messages to guests’ cell phones encouraging them to make impulse purchases in real time based on their proximity to outlets and services

GEO-Location  by RoamingAround is Stimulating Mobile App Use and a Quick ROI

Hoteliers looking to enhance their current mobile strategy and increase guest engagement with their branded mobile app are turning to GEO-Location. Through targeted hotel-to-guest messaging based on location (indoor or outdoor), hotel marketers are finding that mobile app use is on the rise. This not only drives incremental revenues and provides a faster mobile app investment return; it simultaneously increases guest satisfaction, builds loyalty and improves the hotel’s bottom line.

GEO-Location provides hoteliers with the latest in technology GPS, Latitude/Longitude positioning, Bluetooth BLE 4.0, NFC and WiFi  to locate guests and send them personalized messages by SMS, Push, or via the hotel’s Mobile App. The GEO-Location component can easily be added to any existing app by use of our software development kit, or it can be included in a full Mobile Engagement Solution by RoamingAround.

“RoamingAround’s new GEO-Location is ideal for hotels that have committed to building an app or already invested in app development but need to revive/revamp it to make it relevant,” said Michael Garvin, RoamingAround president. “Why leave mobile app engagement to chance? By adding our GEO-Location component, hotel marketers can send targeted, personalized messages, offers or incentives based on timing and location. This will increase mobile app use, as guests look forward to receiving their next custom offer that is sure to enhance their hotel experience.

“In the late 90s, hotel owners and operators began buying hardware and software for the sake of automation with little regard to its return on investment; they rarely used the technology to its full potential, didn’t know how to analyze the data the systems provided, and disregarded system compatibility,” he said. “Today, hoteliers are experiencing much of the same confusion now knee-deep in the mobile age. They are building mobile websites, developing mobile apps, and buying mobile guest-service solutions because they have to in order to remain competitive. But now what? Knowing how to make these mobile services known to guests is tricky, and getting them to actually use the tools efficiently is equally as difficult. This is where GEO-Location by RoamingAround can help.”

Proximity marketing drives impulse purchases by accurately pinpointing where a guest or group of guests is on property. This ensures that all triggered messages can be personalized to each individual or group, and it increases the likelihood that the guest will accept the offer and engage. Properties and brands decide the areas and rules of when and who gets hit with these messages; different content is shown to different users based on proximity and preferences. Messages can even be triggered in multiple languages for a multi-cultural experience.

“On the back end, GEO-Location tracks each guests’ whereabouts to personalize their experience using the hotel’s mobile app,” Garvin said. “A simple plug-in component quickly breathes new life into a hotel’s potentially outdated app while reviving its investment. It also offers a new level of mobile engagement with travelers while becoming a fun, new use of mobile technology. RoamingAround provides analytical tools that track conversion rates and guest traffic patterns greatly increasing success ratios. The system supports social media check-in and is TCPA compliant, preventing guests from reporting SPAM allegations.”

Indoor/Outdoor Engagement
To facilitate indoor geo-fencing, RoamingAround works with each hotel to identify the best indoor access points (iBeacon, Bluetooth BLE 4.0 and WiFi) throughout the property. Being able to detect a guest’s movement vertically between floors or levels of a space greatly improves the accuracy of sending relevant messages. These messages can be discounted deals, complimentary offerings or luxury incentives, such as a private booking. RoamingAround’s GEO-Location enables marketers to manage automated triggers that contain hyper-personalized messaging to ensure they are not only gaining incremental revenue, but also engaging each customer with different experiences, based on their personal preferences, habits and history.

RoamingAround’s outdoor geo-fencing solution tracks customers as they explore the surrounding areas and entices guests to take immediate action within “fenced” locations, such as hotel outlets, partnering businesses, transportation hubs and even competitor locations. The technology combines individual customer profile data, business intelligence rules and uses latitude and longitude coordinates, GPS or Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities, to automatically streamline each scheduled or event-driven trigger.

Source: www.ehotelier.com

5 Finalists In Competition For Best Travel Industry App

The competition to award the best mobile app in travel is hotting up. This year’s judges Graham Cook, Managing Director of Indigo Insight and Volker Glaeser, Member of the Advisory Board of Mondia Media could not decide on a final four, so in the end there were five. In no particular order they are: Thomas Cook, Guidepal, IHG, Jet2holidays and hotels.com.

“The quality and depth of this year’s entrants made it extremely tough for the judges to choose the finalists, so the 10-minute pitches at the finals in Berlin will be more important than ever,” says Julia Heighton, EyeforTravel’s Global Event Director who is running this year’s Online Marketing, Mobile & Social Media Event to be held in Berlin next month.

Ten entrants judged on a number of criteria including design, features, user experience, speed & performance and more. In Berlin, the final five will have one last chance to impress the judges in a ten-minute final pitch.

Ahead of the event, we asked the finalists why they believe their mobile app stands out.

IHG
Intercontinental Hotel Group’s (IHG) mobile and social media manager, Fabrizio Di Martino, believes that his firm has a very strong story to tell in terms of marketing activities, customer satisfaction and innovation. Not only has the firm outstripped its closest competitors in terms of app downloads, revenues from mobile bookings have almost doubled since last year and customer satisfaction levels score an impressive 4.2 in the App Store.

Thomas Cook
Recognising that loyalty towards tour operators is low, Thomas Cook realised it really needed to add value in order to stand out. Brita Hanafy, Thomas Cook’s CRM project manager with responsibility for the Travelguide app has this to say: “We had a clear objective to strengthen customer loyalty and we did that by giving the customer useful information in the app such as hotel descriptions, contacts with local reps, transfer details and the ability to book excursions.” The app also has what Hanafy describes as a first of its kind augmented reality feature.

GuidePal
Mattias Borg CEO & co-founder of GuidePal, a travel app that can be used through the whole travel cycle, from pre-planning to becoming a sort of in-destination concierge, believes its state of the art user interface with intuitive functionality will win the day. Unlike Thomas Cook and IHG, Guidepal’s advantage is that it has always been mobile first, but will this give it the edge?

Hotels.com
Hotels.com, another mobile first player, has the advantage of global scale. Lorenza Pupillo marketing manager hotels.com says: “We are proud to have released a product that has reached 35 million downloads globally putting the customer at the centre of everything we do.”

Since 2011 hotels.com has invested heavily in its apps to which are now available in 37 languages and customised for each individual market needs such as payment methods or preferences. According to Pupillo, listening to customers is crucial and customer tests are essential to understand where there is room for improvement.

Jet2holidays
As the first package holiday company in the UK to launch a fully transactional app, Jet2holidays believes it is in with a strong chance. It based its decision to develop an app on internal research, which showed an increasing number of people browsing for holidays via their mobile phone. Joe McCarroll, User Experience Manager at Jet2Holidays says that when developing an app, the most important thing is to know your audience. “For us, customer insight and usability testing was the best route to understand what our core customers wanted and expected,” he says.

As all five finalists prepare their pitches ahead of the awards next month one thing is for sure, the judges are going to have a tough decision to make afterwards.

Source: ehotelier.com

Hotel Industry Veterans Endorses eRevMax as a Key Distribution Partner

Leading hospitality technology provider, eRevMax, is pleased to announce the release of its new corporate video outlining the company’s focus on continuous innovation and the provision of intelligent solutions for hotel online distribution management.

The video, which is available on the company website, provides an overview of eRevMax’s evolution from a provider of stand-alone products to a solid technology partner that offers hotels with a centralized distribution platform. The video delivers an insight into eRevMax’s expertise and its capability to match supply with relevant demand and offering true integrations with important channel partners.

Leading distribution specialists from companies like Luxury Hotels Collection, Magnuson Hotels, SIHOT, Supranational Hotels and GTA have endorsed eRevMax as a valuable technology partner that plays a key role in their online distribution set-up.

The video also features eRevMax Chief Executive Officer Michael McCartan who emphasises the company’s strong belief in the founding principles – by hoteliers, for hoteliers – to deliver solutions based on customers’ needs to bring relevancy and value while offering user simplicity at the same time.

“We are very excited about our new corporate video as it is a true portrayal of our evolution and how it has transformed the hotel distribution landscape. It’s a privilege to see our partners being ambassadors for us as it provides a clear indication of the trust equity we have built over the years. In 2013 our client base surpassed the 7000 mark globally, which is a manifestation of the development of RateTiger and Connect products. We have a healthy pipeline of exciting projects that I am confident will catapult us to the next level in distribution technology in the coming year,” said Michael McCartan, CEO, eRevMax.

Considered to be a one-stop solution for the hospitality industry, eRevMax continues to innovate and offer new ways for hotels to maximize online revenues while reducing distribution costs. The PCI complaint and ISO certified company offers sophisticated real-time revenue management solutions with business intelligence (BI), ARI Update, Reservation Delivery, Allocation Management and Review Management components built on a single platform for hotels to leverage all aspects to make informed distribution decisions.

Source: http://www.travelmole.com