31 agosto 2011

Hotels offer services through tablet PCs

Hotels offer services through tablet PCs

For a night of clubbing in Manhattan on a recent weekend, Seunghee Thomson turned to the iPad in her room at the Mondrian SoHo to ask the hotel’s concierge for a recommendation.

The concierge desk, which received her iPad message, soon called with a name and directions. “While I was waiting, I was thinking maybe I should call back to see if they got my message, but they called me back right away,” says the fashion stylist from McLean, Va. “It’s the first time I’ve had that experience in a hotel.”

Mondrian is one of several hotels — and airlines, too — that are distributing iPads and similar devices to customers in an effort to tap the buzz surrounding tablet computers. The effort is the latest by the travel industry to digitize a range of services that once required picking up the phone.

Using third-party software developers, hotels are introducing apps to order food, browse hotel amenities and local attractions, request wake-up calls, schedule housekeeping, message other guests and arrange car service. The apps are available for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and phones and tablets using Android and other operating systems.

It’s a self-service vehicle,” says David Adelson of Intelity, which developed Mondrian’s app and has about 380 hotels using the software. “Most travelers are used to self-service solutions in their daily lives and would rather prefer it.

The hotel industry has been trying to automate guest-service transactions, particularly room service orders, for several years, but has been held back by technological limitations. The surging popularity of apps and smartphones may provide the increased operational efficiency and generate the additional room revenue they’re seeking.

Instead of hotel staffers answering guests’ calls and rerouting requests, orders placed in the software are sent directly to the department handling the service: room service orders to the kitchen, requests for toothpaste to housekeeping.

For a lot of hotels, it’s an extension of the kiosk mentality,” says Michael Planey, a travel technology analyst. “The app economy is about giving people control of their own environment.

Executives at Intelity and its competitors — including Ascension Software and Runtriz — say their apps can generate more sales for hotels as other revenue sources, such as phone and movie charges, are dwindling.

Seeing food photos and other buying options presented in a non-intrusive way often leads to more orders, says Joe Adkisson of Ascension, adding that room service orders at his hotels have increased 15% to 20% with the apps.

Make changes quickly, easily

In embracing the digital format, hotels can also quickly update menu changes and deliver up-to-the-minute information about facilities and deals. The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz., for example, sells a “Dinner on the 9th green” package through its app.

You have our own little Groupon targeted at your guests,” says Matthew Allard, CEO of Runtriz, whose guest-service software is available for about 40 hotels, including the St. Regis in New York, the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons in Beverly Hills and the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego.

Several upscale hotels, including the Plaza and Royalton hotels in New York and the Hilton Inn at Penn in Philadelphia, are touting the technology and inviting guests to try it by providing iPads in rooms.

The iPads are “locked” for the hotel services only, and guests aren’t allowed to modify or download other apps, says Adelson of Intelity, which works with the hotels. Guests are charged for the device if they forget to return it.

The Beverly Wilshire offers iPads only for suites. The iPod Touch in all guest rooms at the Conrad hotel in the Maldives makes updating the hotel’s 50-page menus and information about its inventory of wines easier, says Allard of Runtriz, which developed the app.

We can … save a ton of money in printing and shipping,” he says.

Distributing iPads is too expensive and cumbersome for most hotels, says Adkisson of Ascension, which has developed guest-services apps for about 100 properties, including W and Omni hotels. “It sounds cool, but there seem to be issues with cost and keeping them clean from both software and physical standpoints,” he says.

Avaya, an Internet telephone technology developer, is also eyeing the market, introducing its own tablet-size device that’s connected to the hotel room phone and allows guests to order food or request services using touch-screen icons. The device has been installed recently at all rooms in its trial customer, Hotel Ignacio in St. Louis.

Most hotels will ease into the technology with phone apps, while others, such as Wyndham Hotels, have installed the PC-version as the welcome page of their Wi-Fi service.

Source: travel.usatoday.com

24 agosto 2011


"Beauty is but the sensible image of the Infinite. Like truth and justice it lives within us; like virtue and the moral law it is a companion of the soul."
George Bancroft (American historian, 1800 - 1891)

22 agosto 2011


“Beauty is the promise of happiness.”
Edmund Burke (Irish philosopher, 1729 – 1797)

Tutorial Foursquare for Hotelier

Tutorial Foursquare for Hotelier

Foursquare is one of the names talked about and yet which few people know what is going on. Foursquare is the first fully mobile application that works on all smartphones using geolocation: to make his “checkin” your customer must be there.
Designed as a game, Foursquare is very entertaining for its members, with notions of steps climbed as and when it is used and evidenced by badges. These badges are earned primarily through “checkins” arriving at the restaurant or hotel, a quick search on Foursquare brings up a list of places to register.
Foursquare, today more than 10 million members worldwide, 3 million of checkins per day, 500,000 businesses using Foursquare professionally.
To be part of those companies using Foursquare professionally, this is what is needed:
1. Claim his place or attraction
• Connect to Foursquare or create a personal profile if necessary
• Search the name of the hotel
• Once on the hotel card, click on “Do you manage this venue ? Claim here “
• Monitor the process and select the preferred method of verification by phone, mail …
2. Dclare its employees “manager” or “employee”
The person who claimed the place is automatically “manager”. To be declared a “manager” or “employee” by the first manager, it is imperative to have a user profile. Rights are different:
• “employees” can only edit
• Te content of the page
• View statistics
• Enable and disable special
• “managers” can also add special offers •
• Add new “employee” or “manager”
3. Create special types of Event
These special offers are visible not only to users who have produced their checkin, but also those nearby but have not made their checkin to push them to do so.
• Provides for friends only
• Offers reserved for a number of simultaneous visitors (15 people on a period of 2 hours)
• Provides flash
• Provides accessible only when a user first checkin
• Provides access on terms that you have pre-defined
• Offer reserved for frequent visitors
• -* offers reserved for “mayor” (self-employed person who made the most checkins in the last 60 days)
• Among the offers put up by hotels for users Foursquare:
• Upgrade available (depending on availability)
• A complimentary breakfast
• Free wifi
• Offered a drink at the bar
• Late checkout offered
• Generate incremental incomes with specials deals for an updgrade ( for 50 CHF you get a Junior Suite )
4. Foursquare check-in here
By putting a sticker or placard “on the door or at the reception, bar, restaurant …, Foursquare users are informed that the hotel is within their reach and they can probably receive a  special offer
Foursquare push users present in the hotel to do their “checkin” increases awareness of its establishment on the Internet, “checkin” being relayed to the user’s choice by email or Foursquare on social networks:
• Foursquare: his friends are informed
• Facebook: information is shared, with or without commentary on the Facebook wall user Foursquare
• Twitter: information is shared  on the user’s Twitter page Foursquare
• Foursquare on the page of the establishment
• On the page of  Foursquare’s user
5. Train your Staff
Explain to your Staff what is Foursquare. If your staff is not aware you risk to get some complains.
Create Special Code and communicaeing this simple code to its staff, so staff know what it can offer to benefit the customer who shows him his smartphone.
You need to be aware regarding the mode of spread :
With one one offer, you reach hundreds or potentially thousands of potential customers.
6. See its statistics
The statistics are accessible in real time and allow to know, especially after the posting of a special offer:
• The number of checkins per day
• Recent visitors
• The gender
• The most frequent visitors
• Hours the most popular
• The amount of checkins relayed on Facebook or Twitter
Chains & brands
Chains with multiple institutions can benefit from their own brand of Foursquare.
By creating a page “brand” is an opportunity to
• Actively communicate with visitors,
• Share information, tips and tricks,
• To have “followers”
• Create custom buttons,
• Benefit from a specific url foursquare.com type / brand
• To increase brand awareness, providing each institution promote its brand and vice versa
Major brands have already taken advantage of this feature.
• The New York Times
• Louis Vuitton
• Algonquin Hotel
• Four Points by Sheraton
Foursquare can reach a customer “connected” and who also has a social life outside his own home.
The fact to manage his page Foursquare professionally is free and takes only a few minutes. As for offers, they only apply to customers consuming.
Althought if you want to use Foursquare like any other Socia Media Networks, your Hotel Management need to be sure you get Human Ressources to manage this account.
Do it professionally or don’t do it,

15 agosto 2011


“Anything in any way beautiful derives its beauty from itself and asks nothing beyond itself. Praise is no part of it, for nothing is made worse or better by praise.”
Marcus Aurelius (Roman emperor, 121 - 180)

11 agosto 2011


"Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depends on simplicity."
Plato (Greek philosopher, 427 – 347 a.C.)

10 agosto 2011



Hoteis.com: turismo online no Brasil só atingirá ápice depois da Copa e Olimpíada

Hoteis.com: turismo online no Brasil só atingirá ápice depois da Copa e Olimpíada

Promover a Copa do Mundo e os Jogos Olímpicos em dois anos deveria garantir ao Brasil a maturidade do setor turístico, certo? Não, se você considerar os serviços contratados pela internet. Reservas de hotéis e carros ou compras de pacotes turísticos online só deverão se popularizar anos após o Brasil receber ambas as competições.
A tese é de David Roche, presidente mundial da Hoteis.com, serviço de reserva de hotéis do conglomerado de turismo online Expedia, em visita a São Paulo em julho. Irlandês com sorriso franco e um linguajar bastante informal, David defende que o comércio eletrônico no Brasil, mesmo que tenha amadurecido com a estabilidade econômica, ainda não é grande o suficiente para englobar produtos mais caros, como costumam ser ofertas turísticas.
No caminho até a maturidade, o setor vai colhendo os frutos da crescente popularidade de sites de turismo no Brasil.
Nos dois últimos anos, o número de brasileiros que consumiu informações ou comprou pacotes turísticos online cresceu 77%, segundo o Ibope Nielsen Online – de 13,3 milhões de brasileiros em junho de 2009 para 23,6 milhões em junho deste ano. Foi o maior crescimento entre as categorias medidas pelo instituto.
Para testar os mercados locais, é prática da Expedia introduzir primeiro o Hoteis.com, para depois trazer a agência de reservas completa. Neste teste, o Brasil passou com louvor.
Nos próximos dois anos, o Brasil terá receita além do US$ 1 bilhão, o que torna a operação nacional uma das cinco mais lucrativas do mundo, entre 75 países onde a Hoteis.com atua. Não há China, Índia ou qualquer outro país em desenvolvimento que traga mais dólares para a empresa que o Brasil.
Pelos resultados atingidos, a operação nacional da Expedia é “questão de tempo”, diz David. E a gigante não encontrará um mercado tranqüilo: a concorrênca com o brasileiro ViajaNet e o argentino Decolar.com deverá intensificar a briga pelo turismo online no Brasil. Leia a íntegra da entrevista abaixo.

Qual o papel do Brasil na estratégia da Hoteis.com comparado a outros países em desenvolvimento como Índia e China?
Diria que os números do Brasil.com são muito mais atraentes. Uma das razões é sua proximidade em diferentes sentidos. Fora algumas cidades costeiras como Pequim, Shangai e Shenzhen, a China é pobre. O PIB per capita é muito baixo. O Brasil não se parece nem um pouco com isto. Tem mais clientes e mais dinheiro (na comparação relativa). Há também uma distância cultural menor com os EUA, enquanto a diferença é gigante com a China. Isso facilita as coisas para gente.
Quanto do faturamento na América Latina vem daqui?
Mais da metade. O Brasil é maior que o resto dos países e está crescendo muito rápido. Mas esta situação pode mudar muito rápido, já que ainda estamos no estágio inicial de evolução. O setor de reservas online não atingirá sua maturidade nos próximos sete ou oito anos na América Latina.
Mesmo depois da Copa do Mundo e da Olimpíada?
Ambos os eventos mudarão o cenário da indústria de turismo no Brasil, mas a indústria de turismo na internet definitivamente não estará totalmente madura só por isto. Ainda que as reservas online venham crescendo em ritmo muito maior (que o padrão), elas não chegarão à metade (do mercado total) nos próximos cinco anos.
O que falta ao Brasil para atingir esta maturidade?
Se você olhar às condições nas quais o e-commerce evoluiu no EUA, Escandinávia, Japão e Coréia, descobrirá que eles adotaram a internet logo no seu início. Há uma confiança implícita na internet. No Brasil, cartões de crédito não são tão populares como nos EUA. A internet não foi inventada aqui, então as pessoas ainda estão aprendendo a confiar.
Mas este é um problema geral para o e-commerce no Brasil, não só de turismo.
Sim, mas o que o torna particularmente verdadeiro para o turismo é que viagens são caras. É uma coisa comprar um livro por US$ 15 e outra gastar US$ 600 na Hoteis.com. Em vários mercados é comum que os limites do cartão de crédito caiam mais ou menos no valor destas viagens. Se você já comprou algo no cartão antes, não pode fazer reservas.

Já não faz sentido trazer a Expedia ao Brasil?
Provavelmente sim. É uma questão de tempo. É menos fácil trazer negócios onde o ar (passagens aéreas) é um componente-chave. O ar é altamente regulamentado e ter acesso ao inventário (de passagens) pode tomar muito tempo. Como efeito, esse acesso retarda a chegada de estrangeiros e beneficia empreendedores locais.
No Brasil, seus principais rivais são regionais – a ViajaNet e a Decolar.com. Isto é uma desvantagem para a Hoteis.com?
Não estou preocupado com isto. No nosso setor, existem poucos exemplos em que apenas um player dominou todo o mercado. O turismo é uma indústria de trilhões de dólares com diversas empresas. Temos muitos planos para a América Latina e o Brasil terá o maior foco que qualquer outro mercado do mundo. Esses caras são rivais significativos e outros vão aparecer também.
Que adaptações a Hoteis.com teve que promover para vender seu serviço fora dos países desenvolvidos?
Descobrimos que, em países em desenvolvimento, não existem muitos estabelecimentos que se encaixam na descrição de “hotel”. Na Rússia, dependendo de como você conta, são 150 milhões de pessoas, mas existem apenas 200 mil hotéis. É (um mercado) minúsculo. Há países menores na Europa com até quatro vezes mais hotéis. Isto é algo que acontecerá nos próximos anos: o setor hoteleiro se tornará menos informal, mais profissional e terá mais hotéis.
No Brasil particularmente, existe uma camada intermediária inexistente,composta por hotéis de 2 ou 3 estrelas, que têm marcas padronizadas e são usados normalmente por profissionais viajando. Você sabe o que vai encontrar quando se hospeda lá, como o Íbis. Uma das perguntas para o Brasil é: serão companhias nacionais que abrirão e gerenciarão estes novos hotéis, ou isto será feito por redes estrangeiras, como a Accor? Não sei a resposta.
O que é mais benéfico: brasileiros ou estrangeiros operando estas redes?
É levemente melhor para gente se forem brasileiros. Somos intermediários e nos damos melhor em mercado fragmentados. Mas daí as empresas brasileiras tomam o mundo e nós voltamos ao nosso problema original (risos).
Como este aumento na profissionalização do setor hoteleiro atingirá o forte mercado de pacotes no Brasil?
Com a popularização da internet e o aumento na renda média da população, os pacotes se tornam menos importantes. Ficaria terrivelmente surpreso se descobrisse que, nos próximos dez anos, as viagens por pacote não caiam para metade ou até um terço do que são hoje. Eles se dissolverão por diferentes razões: primeiro, o dinheiro destinado a viagens vai crescer e a limitação de se viajar apenas para lugares onde há pacotes desaparecerá.
Segundo, a combinação de companhias aéreas baratas e serviços como Hoteis.com significa que clientes podem aproveitar as economias para voar e ter escolha para se hospedar. Este modelo é poderoso contra pacotes. Na Europa, você observa consolidação no mercado de pacotes e não é algo motivado pela força, mas pela fraqueza. Estas companhias estão consolidando para que sobrevivem.

06 agosto 2011


“Beauty is the bait which with delight allures man to enlarge his kind.”
Socrates (Greek philosopher, 469 – 399 a.C.)
“A beleza é a isca que, com encanto, seduz o homem para aumentar a sua espécie.”

Facebook: how to write relevant content and engage users

Good content is king; therefore, you should update your Facebook page with new content on a regular basis to make sure your fans stay engaged.  Social Media channels can create a genuine buzz and excitement that cannot be conveyed through paid advertising. Hotels should leverage this to its full advantage! Oftentimes, businesses set up Facebook pages but don’t update them or add any valuable content; so they miss out on the advantages of connecting with their fans.
Below are some suggestions on what to share on Facebook to encourage fan engagement and expand your fan base:
  • Stay on topic and stay focused:
    • Include a combination of your own thoughts, breaking news, local events, useful tips, tools, resources, and links from other sites sharing relative topics to your industry.
    • Pick one topic and stick with it – do not mix up topics and talk about several things in the same post.
  • Plan Ahead
    • Create a content calendar if you are having trouble finding topics to discuss.
    • Explore your community and know what is happening — research events, local attractions, festivals, etc.
    • Pick topics that can have follow up posts later.
  • Keep It Simple and Concrete
    • Short, concise posts are the most effective.
    • Do not post anything that could be offensive or could encourage negative comments.
    • Do not post links to articles or information that is difficult to understand/comprehend.
    • Write content that is easy to read and appropriate for everyone.
  • Engage Users
    • Create polls to find out more information about your users’ likes and dislikes, and cater to your audience.
    • Mix up the types of posts by using status updates (including @ tags), discussions tab, links, photos, videos, and events.
    • Add photos – these don’t have to be professional photos. You can snap photos around the property – local events, attractions, etc. using a digital camera. Photos are one of the single most effective engagement items on Facebook.
  • Involve your Employees
    • Ask your employees to post tips about what to do in the area or how to get the best deals/discounts for local attractions.
    • Employees can also post tips on things to do in and around the hotel, such as when is the best time to get a chair by the pool, which is the best seat at the bar to watch the playoff games, etc.
    • Encourage your employees to respond to comments and encourage socializing.
  • Entice Comments and Interaction
    • Ask open ended questions.
    • Respond to posts promptly and encourage users to comment back.
    • Add suspense to comments and create excitement for users to come back.
Overall, it is most important to ensure you are constantly updating your Facebook page on a regular basis, responding to comments from fans, and actively monitoring the page.  Social Media is a fun strategy for online advertising and an informal way to hear feedback from your customers. Take advantage of it and make this marketing strategy high priority!

03 agosto 2011


“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
Confucius (Chinese philosopher, 551 – 479 a.C.)