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How Hotels Are Engaging Guests on Their Mobile Devices

The writing is on the wall—more and more Americans are favoring their mobile devices as their preferred method of accessing the internet. January of this year marked the first time more Americans went online through a mobile device than a personal computer. According to research firm Enders Analysis, mobile devices made up 55 percent of internet usage.

Increasingly, hotels are catching on to this trend. Guests want to interact with their hotel before, during and after their stay, and smart hotels are addressing this demand with their own multi-faceted mobile apps.

While there are plenty of hotel apps out there that share similar features (the ability to book and edit reservations, order room service, accrue rewards points, etc.), a few hotels have designed unique features to catch their guests’ eye and increase their level of interaction. YouVisit shares a few examples of the creative ways hotels are popping up in their guests’ mobile devices.

Like many hotels, Ritz-Carlton’s app includes special offers and location-specific concierge suggestions. Where the luxury hotel chain differs from the competition, however, is its integration of a social aspect.

Users of the chain’s app can transform their travel photos into vintage-inspired posters, ready for sharing on their social platform of choice. Dubbed Shareable Experiences, the app allows guests to decorate their photos with digital stamps, titles and filters, each specific to the property and location.
“A picture is worth a thousand words and a beautiful way to hold on to the memories we want to preserve,” says Ritz-Carlton Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Ed French.
The James Hotel
While other hotel apps seek to maximize what’s available inside the hotel’s doors, the James Pocket Assistant takes a bigger view. Launched last year by The James Hotels (locations in Chicago, Miami and New York City), the app provides a curated selection of the best restaurants, shops, and unique attractions in the hotel’s vicinity.
Originally intended to help guests discover and access local amenities and offers, the Pocket Assistant offers many of the basic features associated with other industry apps, but a March update provided a higher level of functionality. The update integrated beacon technology, sending push notifications to guests about special offers and other interesting information.
For example: powered by beacon technology, The James Hotels’ guests can use the mobile app to take a self-guided tour through each individual property’s art collection.
Virgin Hotels
While the Pocket Assistant extends guests’ experience outside the building, other apps seek to make the guest feel like their home. Launched in January to coincide with Virgin Hotels’ first Chicago location, “Lucy” turns the user’s smartphone into a remote control for virtually everything you can think of. Guests can adjust room temperature, stream personal content across the room’s TV, and select their room service as well.
Other features include entertainment recommendations, a chat board for guests to communicate with one another, and check-in-check-out capability through Virgin’s preference program.
“Our mobile app, Lucy, will put guests in the captain’s chair,” says Virgin Hotels Vice President of Sales and Marketing Doug Carrillo. “The technology will be smart and intuitive, and light the way to a more immersive experience within the hotel. We can’t wait to build upon the platform as the brand and our guests’ needs grow.”
As consumers become more and more attached to their smartphones (a trend that’s not going away anytime soon), hotel guests will no longer demand greater engagement—it will simply be expected.
Hoteliers have the chance to experiment with how they approach that expectation, and provide memorable experiences their guests will notice and remember. One way of accomplishing this is by creating apps in-house, or partnering with an app production company. Wherever they land, mobile apps are becoming more prevalent every year, and smart hoteliers will have to decide if they’re going to stand out from the competition, or blend into the background.
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