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It's that time of year again: the 2012 HotelChatter Awards! Today and Monday, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
Hotel WiFi has been an important part of our coverage here for a while now (remember that little thing called the HotelChatter WiFi Report?). But what happens once you've logged in and connected to the world wide web? Are you Instagramming shots of your room? Are you looking up restaurant reviews on Yelp? Maybe you're eschewing the DVD players of yore and pulling up episodes of Boardwalk Empire on HBOGO?
Either way, when trying to come up with this year's must-have hotel amenity, it seemed like a no-brainer: in 2012, hotel apps were where it's at..
It took them a while to get in on the mobile app game but Ritz-Carlton Hotels has finally launched their iPhone and Android mobile app today and it goes way beyond booking a hotel room.
The app actually personalizes information for a guest the moment they arrive at a Ritz-Carlton hotel. GPS technology can recognize when the guest has stepped into a Ritz-Carlton, signaling the app to start pulling in destination and landmark tips from Ritz-Carlton concierges from Foursquare
The app also relies heavily on QR codes which are placed throughout individual hotels and give off a variety of information and even activities. For instance, at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, guests can take a tour of the hotel's art collection using the QR codes found and scanned into their app. (The QR code function is built into the app, using your phone's camera so no need to download another app for that.)
Not only can you book your room via a mobile booking app on your phone, check-in and open the door to your hotel room via your mobile phone, but now, thanks to LodgeNet, you can check out via your mobile phone (or iPad).
The company's newest mobile app addition, mCheckout, now works in about 500,000 of LodgeNet's mobile-enabled room across 2,600 hotels in North America. (Those same hotel rooms where you can also use the LodgeNet app to control the in-room TV).
In a mad dash to the airport to catch your flight? You can check out of your hotel room on your phone and have the final bill for the stay emailed to you, while you're waiting to board. So long as you have a wireless connection, checking out from anywhere is possible.
Derek S. White, president of Interactive & Media Networks for LodgeNet, is calling mobile checkouts "the next frontier" of hotel technology. Hey, anything that saves us from a long annoying check-out line (especially in Las Vegas), we can get behind. Or download, rather.
We've long been waiting to use our smartphone as a room key in hotels but it turns out that hotel guests may be able to use their smartphones to control things in the room as well.
LodgeNet, a big provider of the on-demand TV systems found in over 500,000 hotel rooms, has introduced a new iPhone and Android app that will enable guests to control the in-room TV right from their phone.
Here's how it works: Download the app to your iPhone, iPad or Droid. When you get into your hotel room, turn on the TV, then sync your phone with the TV using the code that's found on the TV's main menu. Now you're free to do all the things you would do with the remote control but instead, you can do it with your phone.
Apple has just unveiled their new
iPhone5 iPhone 4S which doesn't look that much different from the iPhone 4 but on the inside, things have been changed up drastically. Most exciting is the addition of Suri Cruise, er, Siri, the voice recognition app who will serve as your "humble personal assistant" telling you when you have a meeting, what the weather is like today, sending your text messages and picking out a restaurant for you to dine at.
Even though we've not had much success with voice recognition, Suri, er, Siri does promise to be life-changing. Provided she's actually understanding what you're saying.
Naturally, if Apple is demonstrating Siri's ability to pick out a restaurant in a certain neighborhood in their keynote address, we can't help but wonder if Siri can help us find a hotel room.
Hotel Apps / Firmdale Hotels / iPhone Apps / Hotel Technology / New York Hotels / London Hotels / → All Tags
If tech-savvy types are correct in their assessment that "[t]he future of mobile is the future of everything"—and what a bold statement to make—then Firmdale Hotels' business future is looking up. Jumping on the very full and happy mobile technology bandwagon, the hotel chain has just released its own iPhone Application, downloadable by clicking here.
Hotel brand and booking service Mr and Mrs Smith did what all the cool kids are doing these days and made a hotel-booking app. But the company's free Plan and Play app will also encourage travelers to be bad.
Okay, we aren't talking Charlie Sheen crazy-bad here, but it does encourage naughty behavior with someone. It comes with a Truth or Dare function, where you can shake your iPhone to play a risque round. The app also has an excuses generator that offers an email template that you can edit and then send off to your boss so you can go play hooky with your date.
Grace Hotels has come up with a good way for you to remember to bring the toothpaste on your trip. The hotel group launched a new app that is a packing check list and task reminder.
Appropriately dubbed Saving Grace, the app offers preset lists for various trip types, including winter, summer, activity holiday or short break. It also breaks it down with specific lists for surfing, cycling, golfing, fishing and camping.
A few months ago, we posed the question--Have you ever booked a hotel room using a mobile app? And not many of you answered, save for an old "friend" from China, Spammy. We even tried to get Travelocity to cough up their mobile booking numbers but no dice.
But today, with the announcement of InterContinental Hotel Group's iPhone apps for each of its seven hotel brands, we learn that IHG is making $10 million in monthly booking revenue from mobile bookings alone (previously, IHG just had a Priority Club Rewards app for both Android and iPhone.) IHG also reports that 65 percent of consumers who download IHG’s mobile apps become guests the same night or within 24 hours.
So to answer our question--yes, you are booking reservations through mobile apps.
We've long expressed our dismay at hotel iPhone apps since they never seem to do much aside from letting you a book a room on your phone, as opposed to your computer or calling the hotel in person. But things have been looking up lately.
First, HotelTonight came on the scene offering a great way to get last-minute hotel rooms for a serious discount. And now, Expedia has a free iPhone and iPod app that will find you a hotel room within walking distance should you ever find yourself homeless for the night. The app will also include an interactive map, hotel ratings, reviews ported over from TripAdvisor, hotel photos, amenities and directions to the hotel.
We tried to download the app today but it won't be available for a few more weeks. However, it will be free and it will support 20 currencies worldwide.
During our recent check-in at the Renaissance Providence, we noticed an interesting little pamphlet at the front desk, slugged with the line Navigator by Renaissance and chock full of useful local recommendations and a map. Little did we realize at the time that the hotel chain has revamped its entire concierge program—and ported it to a smartphone near you with a hot, hot iPhone app.
Drawing on tips from local staff at its properties worldwide, the Navigator app works like a mini-guidebook, complete with maps and social network integration. (We see you Foursquare.) In Providence, the picks of Cafe Nuovo and Trinity Brewhouse were top-notch; the program highlights just a few recommendations to avoid paralyzing guests with choice. Wouldn't you rather have a couple solid stand-bys than three dozen restaurant tips to sort through yourself?
It's true that HotelTonight, the book-a-room-right-now app that we've already fallen in love with, had us at hello. But the six-month-old mobile startup isn't slowing down to bask in our praise of its great last-minute deals and sign-up incentives. In fact, the iOS-only app is expanding, with South Beach and Seattle hotels coming online early next month, says CEO Sam Shank. Soon to follow? San Diego and, wait for it, Las Vegas, commonly regarded as the world capital of "Yeah, screw it, let's just book a hotel for the night."