TREND SPOTTING: Hotels hop on mobile bandwagon

19 Feb 2010

With millions of travellers now connected wirelessly through their handheld devices and smartphones, hotels have been hopping on the mobile bandwagon to provide a variety of conveniences that have gone beyond reserving rooms online and viewing a strip down version of their website.

• Hilton
Worldwide launched mobile applications for iPhone and iTouch devices –
which among other things – let guests check in remotely up to 48
hours before arrival as well as make advance room service order through
the software’s “Request Upon Arrival” feature. These mobile services
are available across seven Hilton brands in the US – Conrad,
Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites
and Hampton Inns. The chain is looking at introducing these new mobile
applications in other countries such as Japan and Germany.

• The Charterhouse in Causeway Bay, Hongkong introduced its iPhone Express Hotel Check-in service this month. Available in English
and Simplified Chinese, guests can update personal details on their
iPhones for faster check ins and email notifications will be sent to
guests two days before their arrival.

• Langham Hotels recently rolled out Langham Touch, an iPhone application that offers
voice-enabled instructions to help guests get around a city where there
is a Langham property. This mobile application, which must be
installed into an iPhone or iTouch device, allows users to search and view
all vital location information without going online, saving on costly
international roaming charges. Langham Touch provides directions to the hotel from virtually anywhere in the city which can be viewed as well as heard. The
application also serves as a mini-city guide and includes
recommendations to cultural must-dos as well as attractions,
restaurants and bars. It likewise allows allows guests to use their
iPhone or their iPod Touch to request for room service, ask for a
wake-up call and make restaurant reservations.

Meanwhile, the Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La and Hyatt have for the moment chosen to optimise websites for fast loading and easier navigation when accessed through handheld devices and smartphones.

The Mandarin Oriental has just launched an interactive mobile website, which facilitates room bookings, make dining and spa reservations and browse through interactive maps. Accessed at, the website is compatible with both touchscreen devices such as iPhones and Droid and keypad handhelds such as BlackBerry and Nokia. Among its functions, the mobile site offers short features and
photograph of each Mandarin Oriental hotel together with the relevant
phone numbers. The site also has a “read me later function” that allows
users to switch back and forth between their mobile device and website.

Last month, Shangri-La launched a mobile version of its website to allow guests to book rooms in its 65 hotels worldwide under the Shangri-La and Traders brands. Available in English, Chinese and Japanese, the site can be accessed through iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Nokia Nseries smartphones.

Gigi Onag

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