Moving beyond online bookings, hoteliers are exploring another area of the online hotel landscape: The burgeoning app market. Millennials are accustomed to apps; they crave the latest technological trends. Savvy hotel management can use this demand to create more personalized and customized service and to generate more business by catering to the app market.
Matt Allard, the founder and president of Runtriz, a Los Angeles-based startup that has developed software platforms for nearly 6,000 hotel properties, is a frontrunner for this new client service model. The Radisson RED Brussels, with the Runtriz-designed Radisson RED app, has become the poster child for an innovative and fresh guest experience. Allard says when he looked at the hospitality industry and what guests find valuable, he noticed a big gap in technology and how hotels were communicating with guests. So, he decided to fill that need.
Creating a mobile app targeted at the hospitality industry relies heavily on one key factor—time. “It’s the most valuable asset across the board,” Allard explains. “We really position ourselves as a time-saver for the guests. So, if I’m checking in, or want to request something before I arrive, it can be done utilizing our app.” Mobile check-in, keyless entry, virtual concierge, or room service has become an expectation among guests, a trend that has seamlessly transformed into a societal norm. Millennial travelers, especially, have come to anticipate certain features when they travel with a heavy focus on technology and ease of use.
Allard focuses on what the customer wants, with an understanding and anticipation of what is important to them, when designing his apps or brainstorming for new and convenient features to add. “We start with the guest experience and make sure that is perfect, and it’s clear that guests want to do stuff using mobile and not wait. With the Radisson RED, for example, we have added mobile key, another time-saver for guests—especially business travelers.” With mobile key, guests are able to receive a pre-arrival notification so they can complete their check-in and get a room key without having to visit the front desk. Another trend Runtriz has experimented with is a guest chat on a built-in network. The public board allows patrons to post messages to other registered guests about various things happening in the hotel or plan activities with each other. Hotel employees can act as curators of the board and also alert guests to upcoming events.
Hoteliers must be responsive to changing client needs. The most efficient way to do that, according to Allard, is through technology that can benefit both sides of the hospitality equation. Mobile apps free up staff from customer interaction and increase guest satisfaction by speed of delivery and efficiency of operation. By catering to the desire for instant gratification through mobile devices, hotels like the Radisson RED in Brussels, and the brand’s soon-to-open Minneapolis location, can improve interactions with guests. Using up-and-coming apps can also increase profit margins through sales incentives and staff efficiency.