Sept. 2011 New Technology Story


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The cover story on new technology trends in hospitality from the September 2011 issue of AAHOA Lodging Business.

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Sept. 2011 New Technology Story

  1. 1. Cover Story Mobilizing For the FutureA look at how mobile applications are changing the guest experience andhow owners can use the technology to streamline hotel operationsT ogy solutions providers are already oday’s hotel guest arrives at a By Jonathan Springston, well into the game, offering not just hotel armed with smart phones AAHOA Lodging Business mobile-friendly websites but fully and tablet computers all loadedwith mobile applications. Just as they developed mobile applications thatuse mobile applications for social net- lags behind other sectors and could meet a variety of needs.working, organization and other per- continue that way into 2015. Deloitte What follows is a spotlight onsonal and professional needs, guests recommends the industry focus on some of the newest innovations cer-are also utilizing technology to book developing more and better mobile tain to create some buzz in 2012.rooms on the go and learn more about technology solutions. IHG’s Priority Club Rewardsthe hotel and its surroundings. A 2011 study conducted by Apple alone offers 500,000 apps Motorola Solutions found that more App for Kindle Fire, Googlefor its iPhone and iPad. Many more than half of hospitality organizations TV and Android Tabletsare available for other platforms like are planning to increase their mobile In 2011, IHG exceeded $130 millionAndroid, Kindle Fire and Google TV. investments with 91 percent of all in revenue through mobile book- While hoteliers may understand hospitality decision makers under- ings, thanks in large part to the hostthe benefits of mobile technology, a standing the importance of mobile of mobile applications released overrecent study from Deloitte notes that and wireless technology. the last two years. These includetechnology spending in hospitality Many brands and other technol- the Priority Club Rewards app30 AAHOA Lodging Business MARCH 2012
  2. 2. Cover Story next-generation personal technol- ogy strategy,” Michael Menis, vice president, Web and Interactive Marketing, IHG, said. “As con- sumers embrace new devices like tablets and interactive television, we will continue to expand our reservation options and brand pres- ence through these fast-growing, emerging touch points.” The new IHG app allows Prior- ity Club Rewards members to find and book rooms, view photos and amenities for each hotel, click-to- call front desk for each hotel, use Priority Club Rewards account The IHG Priority Club Rewards App for Google TV information to facilitate book- ings, view Priority Club Rewards member details (number, level and points balance), manage account profile, view and cancel upcom-for Windows Phone in July 2011; app for iPhone in April 2010. ing reservations, redeem points foriPhone booking apps for each of To cap 2011, IHG unveiled the Priority Club Reward nights, useIHG’s seven brands, announced in Priority Club Rewards App for Kin- corporate IDs to get corporate rates,June 2011; InterContinental Con- dle Fire, Google TV and Android quick enrollment into Priority Clubcierge Insider Guides app for iPad Tablets. Rewards, and view special December 2010; the Priority Club “Extending our solutions to While the Kindle Fire andRewards app for Android in July work with Kindle Fire, Google TV Google TV are still emerging tech-2010; and the Priority Club Rewards and Android Tablets is key to our nologies, Menis said IHG wanted toMARCH 2012 AAHOA Lodging Business 31
  3. 3. Cover Story not getting the engagement with guests to make [mobile apps] effective,” Todd Kelly, vice president of Interactive and Mobile Applications, LodgeNet Mobile, said. “We wanted guests to keep coming back. We wanted guests to use the app throughout the trip and even after, but especially during the trip.” To really maximize the ho- tel experience, the LodgeNet Mobile App enables hotel guests to use their own smart phones or iPad devices in place of the in-room remote for navigating the LodgeNet interactive TV system. Kelly cites data that The LodgeNet Mobile App found 40 percent of guests for the smart phone ards App between the ages of 18 and ity Club Rew The IHG Prior 34 prefer using a smart entertainment options with photos, for Kindle Fire phone or tablet to control the TV contact information and reviews. viewing experience. Other features include the ability to The app also supports both folio order room service while in transit or be on the forefront. and credit card payment options as poolside, making on-site restaurant “When we look at the overall well as other value-added features or spa reservations and even mobiletraffic of our website, it’s interest- such as an Interactive Program checkout with an e-mail to see the spike in Kindle use,” Guide, a highly requested service “We built the app sort of as ahe said. “We want to make sure we that will display the channels, times hospitality ecosystem. We put our-are integrated and understand the and programs available at the hotel selves in the shoes of our custom-role they play.” where a guest is staying. ers,” Kelly said. “We thought there Menis noted that for IHG, With the LodgeNet solution, was an opportunity to provide thisputting a focus on an app for Prior- guests can search local dining and larger suite of services so that it wasity Club Rewards membersensures they keep the business perfectly designed for hotel- The LodgeNet Mobile App for the tablet iers to customize the solution.”of their most loyal guests. “We launched with our RoomSaver from TravelPriority Club app because thatwas the best place to start,” Media Grouphe said. “With the launch of For 30 years, Travel Mediaour branded apps, it provides Group, under the names ofbrand-right solutions. Over Florida Travel Saver, Traveltime, we will be evolving to Coupon Guide and RoomSavermore brand-right apps to meet /HotelCoupons, has offereddifferent needs for different printed coupon books that offerconsumers.” discounts on hotel rooms across the United States. Despite the LodgeNet Mobile App advent of new technology andLodgeNet Interactive in Janu- the decline of the publishingary unveiled what it calls a industry over the last decade,“Mega App” that provides Travel Media Group still printsin-room entertainment, lo- 2 to 3 million books every monthcal area services and hotel depending on While users can’t “Our business model hasbook rooms through the app, changed slightly but one thingthe LodgeNet solution aims to that has remained constantincrease guest interaction dur- is marketing hotel rooms toing and after their hotel stay. interstate consumers,” Mark “The hospitality space in Novak, vice president andtheir implementation were general manager of Travel32 AAHOA Lodging Business MARCH 2012
  4. 4. Cover Story information that can be redeemed at the hotel as a walk-in coupon rate, call the hotel within the app, and save hotel coupons in a favorite list. “Unlike typical OTAs that have followers that book in advance, there are still a number of travelers that still don’t know where they are going to be that Consumers have a galaxy of mobile apps at their fingertips night. We do a very fineRoomSaver became on Feb. 15Media Group, said. “Travelers needgreat deals at a great property thatmeet their needs.” Nevertheless, Travel MediaGroup has adapted to changingtechnologies with RoomSaver appsfor the iPhone, iPad and Android.Users can search for hotels, viewhotel coupons in a list and a mapview, view hotel details in a galleryview, hotel amenities and hotel’scoupon price, view hotel couponA screen cap of a hotel coupon on a smartphone from Travel Media GroupMARCH 2012 AAHOA Lodging Business 33
  5. 5. Cover Story balancing act,” Novak said. “Where our app becomes intriguing is that our app is not brand specific. If [brands] want to be on our plat- form, they have every opportunity. The traveler likes the choices. They like the geo-location. What they really like is the pricing. The pric- ing is a very discounted price but the difference is that it is based on walk-in availability.” Travel Media Group on Feb. 15 rebranded RoomSaver as HotelCou- and upgraded the apps to feature more social media integration and targeted data. While adapting to new technol- ogy, Novak said his company will continue focusing on the basics. “We have an obligation to market hotels based on the informa- tion provided to as many interstate travelers as possible with great ter man- Mourier quality and hotel deals to satisfy age pricing and his busi- guest needs,” he said. “We really and streamline ness partner continue to keep those two core phi- their overall op- Bruno Perez out- losophies in mind with mobile.” eration. lined what the ideal The RevPAR Guru is app should be while What About Hoteliers? an all-in-one solution that pondering the importance While the number of mobile apps combines RMS, Rate Shopper of mobile applications to all and their benefits to guests are and Channel Manager. Loaded on a players in the hospitality game. numerous, there are also options tablet device, a hotelier can use the “Applications need to be fast and available to hoteliers looking to bet- solution to monitor sales, rate to the point,” Perez said. Mourier parity and generate automat- concurs, noting apps should offer ic reports. the “minimum amount of informa- iers to The solution works 24 tion necessary while giving you all allows hotel G uru solution ng rate patterns hours a day to automatically the information you need.”The RevPAR monitor changi ycontinuousl capture data from the hotel, While many brands offer the competition, market mobile-friendly websites for guests, data, calculate a rate based Mourier said solid apps are better. on the owner’s strategy, “If we’re in the car, a mobile and publish world-wide. app is really good. If you’re in the “Automated pricing middle of nowhere, your Internet systems can preempt the is really slow and the mobile app quick changes in technol- becomes really important,” he said. ogy. As booking win- Ultimately, Mourier and Perez dows continue to shrink, believe the industry will continue being not only receptive investing money in mobile technol- to mobile booking but ogy and that there will be a place for also preemptive to rate every kind of app in order to meet strategy will be key to different needs of different guests. increasing occupancy “You’re going to need an app for rates,” Jean Francois all these social circles. You need an Mourier, CEO of app for every layer - OTAs, loyalty RevPAR Guru, said. programs and direct-to-hotel,” “Using automated Mourier said. “You need a mobile pricing strategies app for everything today. You will help hoteliers need to make yourself available to navigate through the consumer. Mobile phones are these variables using becoming the mobile PC and apps technology.” should follow.” 34 AAHOA Lodging Business MARCH 2012