3 Hotel Apps That Go Above and Beyond to Engage Guests

Increasingly, guests want to interact with a hotel before, during, and even after their stays. Many successful hotels have recognized this and have implemented strategies to meet and exceed this expectation. One strategy top hotels have taken is to create their own multi-faceted mobile apps.

It’s easy to see why hotels have taken this route. More Americans than ever before are using their mobile devices to access the internet to find information and handle their everyday needs. In January, more Americans accessed the internet through their mobile devices than through personal computers, the first time this has happened. According to data from comScore, mobile devices made up 55 percent of internet usage in the United States, with 47 percent coming from apps.

While there are numerous hotel apps, many share similar features, including giving guests the ability to book and edit reservations, order room service, learn about amenities, and more. Other hotels, however, have added more exotic features designed to go above and beyond to engage and inform their guests. Below are a few of these hotels.

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Virgin Hotels
In January, Virgin Hotels opened its first property in Chicago. Accompanying the opening was the release of the hotel group’s smartphone app, “Lucy.” This app has multiple features that allow guests to interact with the hotel property. Some of these features include allowing guests to adjust room temperature, stream personal content to their room TV, and turn their smartphone into a remote. Other features the app comes with are entertainment recommendations, a chat board where guests can communicate with each other, and the ability to check in and out on their devices through Virgin Hotels’ preference program, called The Know.

“Our mobile app Lucy will put guests in the captain’s chair,” said Doug Carrillo, vice president of sales and marketing for Virgin Hotels. “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.”

The James Hotels
Last year, The James—which has properties in Chicago and New York City—released the James Pocket Assistant. The app was created to help its guests discover and access the hotel’s amenities and special offers. The Pocket Assistant has many of the basic features associated with other hotel apps, but includes the ability to order a valet without waiting and a curated selection of the best restaurants, shopping, and top attractions near the hotel.

The James updated its app in March to include beacon technology, which lets guests receive push notifications about special offers and interesting information. Another way The James Hotels are using beacon technology within the app is to let guests take a self-guided art tour throughout each of the individual property’s art collections.

The Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton app offers several features to engage guests. As other hotels have done, The Ritz-Carlton’s app includes special offers and location suggestions from each property’s concierge. More interesting, however, is that the luxury hotel chain included a social aspect to the technology.

The app gives users the ability to transform their travel photos into vintage-inspired posters that they can share on their social media channels. This feature, called Sharable Experiences, allows users to modify their pictures with digital stamps, titles, and filters.

As hotel guests continue to expect access to information, hoteliers have the opportunity to experiment with ways to create memorable experiences that will keep their property at the top of guests’ minds. One way to do this is by creating an app, whether in-house or by partnering with an app production company. Smart hoteliers will need to think creatively to offer something that makes them stand out and demonstrates to guests that their convenience is their top priority.

About the Author
Abi Mandelbaum is co-founder and chief executive officer of YouVisit, a technology company that develops virtual tours and virtual reality tours for a variety of industries, including education, hospitality, real estate, travel and leisure, and many others.