July 24, 2019

Hotels Are Starting to Take Apps Personally

The experience of a hotel isn’t just the physical space – more and more, it’s defined and personalized in the digital space. Early apps that were more booking engine than engagement opportunity are morphing into a critical touchpoint.

From the time Virgin Hotels launched Lucy in early 2015, “we never saw the app as just a book engine,” says Doug Carrillo, VP of sales and marketing. “We felt that this was a way for us to connect with our hotel guests as well as to make their stay easier.” And, he says, “we knew early on that the customer would prefer to manage that experience through their own device.” Virgin’s two U.S. hotels will be joined by seven others opening in the next three years and using the app.

“The increasing proliferation of household IoT technologies, like smart lightbulbs, and streaming media like Netflix, Showtime, and more are driving some of our guests to expect them in a hospitality setting,” says Joshua Sloser, Hilton’s senior vice president of digital. In January, Hilton guests could stream their Netflix accounts through the hotel’s app. And with Connected Room technology available on the app, guests, can adjust their environment without getting up from the bed.

The app also employs digital key, check-in and check-out, the ability to select a room from a digital floorplan, and an “Explore” section that tailors a list of suggested activities such as food or nightlife to the guests, such as a family or business traveler, from local staff. The digital key is available at more than 4,200 Hilton properties, Sloser says, “so it is not something that’s just at a few test hotels.”

What’s next? “Pay is one thing the hotel industry needs to look at; down the road, maybe voice activation or voice, like Alexa,” Carrillo says. “That’s the thing the industry is trying to figure out – how do I speak into my phone, or into my watch, or into a device in my room.”

Guests of The Standard hotels, in the U.S. and London, who don’t want to fiddle with IoT in their rooms can use the Lobby app to create an alias and interact with other guests. The guest controls how much personal information is available and can decide whether to meet IRL (and they don’t need to worry about leaving a trail – the alias checks out when they do).

Copyright 2019 Marketing & Technology Group. All rights reserved. From http://www.hotelsmag.com. By Barbara Bohn.

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