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HotelTonight’s concierge feature highlights possible revenue channels for hotel brandsBy
HotelTonight is leading the charge for third-party booking marketers trying to personalize their applications by piloting a concierge feature enabling users to request information about their final destinations and ask for hotel amenities from the front desk.
The new tool, called Aces, is designed to provide HotelTonight users with additional reasons to stay active within the app after completing a booking. Its foray into personal concierge features suggests other third-party apps, such as Booking.com and Expedia, may be well-suited to follow in its footsteps, especially as hotel brands roll out their own concierge solutions.
“With Aces, we are moving beyond just last-minute booking to offer travelers with value-add mobile services,” said Sam Shank, co-founder and CEO of HotelTonight, San Francisco. “This is a strategic move for the company as we continue to grow with the goal of not only being the best place for last minute hotels, but the best place to book hotels period.”
Mobile is the ideal channel for offering a personal concierge service, as its constant connectivity enables guests to ask questions regardless of their location. Consumers will likely have a more personalized hotel stay, especially if they are able to request specific amenities prior to their arrival, ensuring that the room will be aligned with their preferences.
Users may ask the HotelTonight app questions about their destination places, such as sightseeing tips and restaurant recommendations. This may also relieve the workload of the front desk as well as physical concierges.
“The technology featured in hotels has long been rather passé,” said Daniel Ramirez, vice president of Porter24, San Diego, CA. “However, today, technology is finally at the forefront of our industry, providing hotels and guests with a myriad of digital solutions.
“As this trend continues, it will subsequently affect the mobile ecosystem in a major way,” he said. “Providing hotel guests with the most enjoyable, most easily accessible hotel experience is now easier than ever before thanks, in part, to the mobile revolution.
“As mobile continues to grow, so too will hotel technologies.”
Hotel amenities are also among the possible requests, in case guests require extra pillows or want to order room service via their smartphones.
The Aces pilot program began in last week in New York, Washington and three Californian cities.
HotelTonight is selecting a handful of hotel guests to initially test out the service. However, the marketer has plans to expand it to all users in the future.
“Initially, this product will only be offered to a small set of users within select markets: Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, San Diego,” HotelTonight’s Mr. Shank said. “Additional cities will be rolled out over the coming months.
“It is a 24-hour service offered for all hotels within those cities, and it is available the morning of a guest’s check-in and throughout the duration of a guest’s stay.”
Potential for OTAs
Aces may very well prompt other online travel agents to introduce competitive features, particularly as hotel brands such as Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Hyatt Regency aim to entice consumers with mobile concierge solutions.
Many hotel brands are now employing their own or third-party concierge solutions to drive room service ordering and easy communication with staff in a bid to personalize guest stays even more (see story).
The ability to order room service will also ramp up in-app sales, an attractive notion to many hotel chains.
Personal concierge features have the added benefit of furthering customer engagement and fostering loyalty for further bookings. This may culminate in becoming a crucial tactic for third-party apps to leverage as they strive to maintain connections with customers and prevent them from hopping from one competitor to another.
However, if personal concierge services become too saturated, users will ultimately be the deciding factor on which grab most of the lion’s share and which fall to the wayside.
HotelTonight’s early entry will likely place it a step ahead of others in the booking space, especially as it continues placing a spotlight on its mobile consumers.
This past May, it changed the way hospitality marketers target consumers by delivering news of $99 room deals to subscribers of its email list as well as users on Twitter and Instagram, proving that social media continues to be a valuable communication channel for travel brands to leverage for last-minute promotions or flash sales (see story).
“So far, response from our users has been extremely positive,” Mr. Shank said.
“Aces provides guests with their own personal travel insider that can help with everything from room requests, to getting dinner reservations, to providing additional insights on the best, most unique, ‘in the know’ destinations within a city, and we are leveraging our award-winning customer service team, combined with unique, vetted and hyper-local details, to create an unparalleled experience.”
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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