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Ben Graham

Using a hospitality CRM to manage hotel services & up-selling

How to integrate a hospitality CRM into your Hotel Management System

By | Hospitality, Hotel management, Hotel technology | No Comments

.Customer relationship management is a constantly evolving concept. While the core concept remains the same across industries – managing every engagement opportunity to build and increase loyalty – each business has its own unique requirements.

In hospitality, how you engage with your guests is dependent on a number of factors. In-house amenities, location and historic/cultural significance should all play a part in defining the right kind of CRM for your hotel.

Putting these elements aside, there are some processes every hotel should consider before integrating a new CRM model. Thankfully, Genie is on hand to walk you through the process. 

New York hotel exterior with new hospitality CRM

Identify

Aims – What is the overall goal of the CRM? Introducing a new CRM to your hotel requires coordination between all departments, so it’s vital to consider why you are changing your approach before launching into anything.

Obstacles – What elements of your current setup prevent you from creating streamlined data-flows? Do yourself a favour; identify data silos before you embark on any kind of CRM implementation. From there, you can take steps to make every aspect as transparent, accessible and concise as possible.

Channels – Which channels do you hope to integrate with a CRM? How well do these different channels fit together? By identifying the weak spots in your current CRM system, you can avoid data blind-spots with your new system.

Of course, with all that data you’ll need a plan detailing how it will flow into your CRM. Draw up exactly how you plan to manage the data, along with how you plan to turn that data into real change in your daily processes.

Using a hospitality CRM to boost sales hotel restaurant

It’s not enough to harness the information from your hotel operations, you must turn that data into actionable insights. Coordination between departments is simpler with Genie devices in the hands of select staff. Meanwhile, identifying blind-spots becomes easier and guest behaviour data becomes infinitely more accessible with a Genie phone in every room.

Establish

Targets – You’d be amazed how many businesses begin the arduous process of CRM integration without considering what exactly they’re trying to achieve.

So, after identifying your aims, you should be able to draw up measurable targets. Looking to increase up-selling in room service? Take a look at the amount you make per room per stay and the current process of ordering room service so you can begin to draw up realistic targets. By giving your team access to quantified goals, upselling opportunities become more attainable.

Perimeters – It’s important to understand your limits when introducing a CRM. As much as you would like to, you can’t control every aspect of your guest’s behaviour. A multi-department CRM can, however, give you peace of mind that every accountable facet of the guest experience is being documented and shared with the right staff.

Milestones – Break down your CRM implementation into easy-to-manage, measurable milestones. This way your staff have a more digestible set of goals and, in the event of an issue, you can more easily identify where something went wrong.

Staff – Choose which members of staff should cover which areas. While this may seem like an easy choice – surely the restaurant manager is best to spearhead the food service side – there’s no guarantee all the different leaders will work well together. Identify each member of staff’s strengths and weaknesses and build your team around who works best together, and can best communicate when there’s a problem.

Vintage hotel hallway updated using hotel CRM

Introducing a new CRM can be a stressful experience but, if done in conjunction with Genie, hotels can provide a centralised, stable platform through which to draw up shared goals, develop measurable milestones and designate specific roles.

Instigate

In implementing the hotel CRM across your platforms, there’s an understandable urge to delay it until it’s absolutely perfect. Everyone wants to launch with a perfect CRM, but you can tweak elements as the system as you go.

As you put the system into place, bear in mind the key components of each section and how they work together. Areas to consider include:

Platform integration – Which platforms are you going to include? A consistent email platform (i.e. Gmail or Outlook, not both) makes integration simpler, while a single, hotel-wide instant messaging system means your staff are always in the know. If your hotel has its own app, make sure you can integrate the data gained from guest usage into the CRM.

Of course, the needs of your hotel should inform the integrations you choose. Simultaneously, it’s vital to take account of the external needs of different departments. The kitchen, for instance, will regularly require stock and equipment orders. Communication with suppliers, meanwhile, is integral to the efficient running of the cleaning department.

Information sharing – The rapid sharing of information between different departments should be integral to your hospitality CRM. Streamlining communications requires cohesive integration of your platforms and a robust system. Above all, this CRM must ensure the right people can access the information these platforms provide.

Sales forecasts – Data gained from everyday hotel operations will make drawing up sales forecasts simpler and more verifiable. After all, predicting how the CRM will influence ancillary revenues is a lot easier when you have all the information to hand. Likewise, developing a coherent sales strategy for the future becomes more straightforward when you can set measurable targets for every hotel department.

Guest analytics – Data is the oil that makes your CRM engine run. That’s why it’s essential your CRM provides readable, actionable analytics. When your team can easily understand how to turn the insights provided by your analytics into actions, guest satisfaction, selling-opportunities and inter-departmental coordination will all come that little bit easier.

Storage – By this stage, you’ve probably considered every option for your CRM, but where exactly your data will be stored often comes as a last consideration. Storing it on local files can limit access for other departments or members of staff. Meanwhile, purely Cloud-based storage can present issues for hotels in areas where connection is sporadic. Regardless of which you choose, it’s important to regularly check and update your CRM.

Using hotel guest data from CRM to develop hotel services

As with all hospitality CRM’s, the key focus is in maintaining a regularly refurbished, accessible database. This database should be a central column of information, collating guest data, outgoing costs and staff processes. With a Genie device in every room, analysing guest behaviour is easy and non-invasive. With integrations for hospitality CRM’s, anonymised data on every aspect of the guest experience can be gathered, saved and analysed with ease.

Measure

Reflect – How close are you to achieving the goals you set out in the Establish phase? It’s important to measure your failures just as much as your successes. Where did your CRM struggle to turn that data into real insights? Which areas of the hotel provided the least data?

Of course, your CRM is about making the most of the mountains of data provided by everyday processes, so it’s vital you look at just what that data is saying.

Compare – Did some elements of your CRM work better in the winter season? Perhaps room service sales decreased during a major local sporting event? By breaking down your data into categories, you can see which aspects of service work, and which require some tweaking.

Persevere – Measuring the effectiveness of your hotel CRM is a never-ending process and requires constant adjustment. To really find success with your hotel CRM, you have to be ready to listen to the numbers.

Using guest analytics to develop your hotel CRM

Image courtesy of www.seniorliving.org

Genie devices provide analytics on the most effective sales methods, as well as the browsing behaviour of guests. This gives you the freedom to study every aspect of the guest experience and build your services around quantified successes.

Refine

So, you’ve implemented your CRM, you’ve basked in the data and you’ve measured every aspect of your service. Now it’s time to fine-tune those services.

It’s by no means an easy feat. There’s no secret formula to complete success, so take your time and make incremental changes. This way, you can trace and rectify any drop in sales or guest satisfaction without upending other vital processes.

Managing guest check in using your hospitality CRM

Genie gives your hotel the freedom to trial new offers and services to a small group of guests. With the data provided through guest interactions with Genie devices, you can measure changes against other control groups.

Introducing a hospitality CRM will always be a challenge. With forward-planning and a strong understanding of your goals, hotels can increase guest loyalty, drive revenues and start anew.

How can the hotel industry adapt to the sharing economy?

What does the sharing economy mean for the hotel industry?

By | Hospitality, Hotel technology, Industry | No Comments

As more customers opt for an Airbnb holiday, hotels are trying to adapt their model to provide a more personalised experience. But is the sharing economy really a threat to the hotel industry?

The sharing economy encourages greater transparency and, at least on the surface, seems like less of a corporate machination in comparison to hotels. For those seeking an authentic experience without the price tag, sites like Airbnb seem to offer a viable alternative. Airbnb’s annual profits (before interest and taxes and depreciation) are predicted to hit as much as $3.5 billion by 2020. While it’s essential hotels acknowledge the appeal of this new form of travel, they don’t necessarily have to shift to a similar model. 

The appeal of peer-to-peer platforms

It’s no secret that today’s traveller craves an authentic experience. On sites like Airbnb, listed properties fulfil a unique role; they’re perceived to provide an ‘authentic’ taste of local life in a new city. For hotels, this is a problem. Millennial travellers will account for half the spending on business flights by 2020; it’s imperative hotels don’t write off their value.

There’s also been a shift towards greater travel self-sufficiency as improvements in data connection encourage visitors to explore locations in their own time. People want to return with stories of discovering the local culture in their own way, not of a handheld tour around a city. The accommodation available through peer-to-peer platforms provides a level of autonomy rarely seen in hotels, who (for obvious reasons) tend to encourage a kind of passive independence in guests. For instance, hotel rooms are less likely to enable guests to cook food in the room, wash clothes or workout, as this makes it less likely the guests will use the hotel amenities.

Maid cleaning a hotel bed sticking two fingers to sharing economy

The growth of the sharing economy

Sites like Airbnb, although regularly described as disruptive – perhaps the most irritating business buzzword of the startup generation – aren’t particularly radical. Short-term holiday homes have existed in some form for over a century. Today, it’s how the property is that defines the key difference with yesteryear. The homeowner retains the rights of the landlord and the room-sharing site takes a ‘passive agent’ role. Airbnb, for example, operates on a simple, lightweight model, charging a 3% fee to the host and anywhere from 6% to 12% to the guest on the value of the booking.

Airbnb’s agility stems from its degree of separation from the actual property. The property is maintain by the property owner, so Airbnb has no need to dispatch ‘on-the-ground’ staff. This is essential to a business model spread over such a huge geographic area, but no help to established hotels.

For those in the hotel industry, the answer lies in streamlining the business model. The cost of designing, building, decorating and running a hotel is high. Meanwhile, leasing an existing building, and operating on a franchise model, provides a significantly more agile platform from which to promote a hospitality brand.

Keys hanging in the door of a boutique hotel room

What can the hotels do?

The solution to pursuing potential guests lost to the sharing accommodation economy? It’s easy to say hotels should “begin to offer a more authentic experience,” but how do they do that without losing the elements of a hotel that people enjoy, such as room service and in-hotel amenities? Just as importantly, how can hotels offer the same level of geographic and financial choice as the sharing accommodation economy?

The answer is they don’t. Airbnb can expand the supply of rooms to keep up with demand without incurring the massive costs of hotel expansion, handing them a significant advantage. Sure hotels can offer a selection of rooms, but they can’t usually offer a range of different locations within the same city. Hotels should focus on emphasising the array of services they have on offer in-house, with special promotions designed to highlight the convenience of available amenities.

Many in the hospitality industry fail to realise that, because hotels offer a radically different experience to sharing accommodation, the two can exist alongside each other. That doesn’t mean hotels can rest on their laurels, however; they still need to respond to the changing needs of guests, but they would do well to remember why the hotel is still the leading choice for holiday lodging.

Luxury hotel room with wine glasses and fully made bed

Identify your strengths

A recent report by Boston University revealed that “each 10 percent increase in supply on Airbnb causes a decrease of 0.37 percent in monthly hotel revenue.” But just because the sharing economy has blossomed in the past decade doesn’t mean the entire industry has to shift to a similar model. In fact, it gives the industry room to diversify, with some offering a high-end boutique experience and others a more natural, to-the-roots experience.

Part of adapting to new challenges is to accept shortcomings and focus on strengths. Hotels boast a wealth of strengths over their less organised, less regulated individual residences. Hotels must focus on highlighting the additional levels of service they provide over short-term lodging. Guests opting for hotels understand they can expect consistency over a ‘unique’ experience, and that’s exactly what hotels should deliver.

Don’t forget, many people still prefer hotels for the convenience and consistent standard they provide. Not everyone is looking to cook their own meals or ‘live as a local’.

Luxury hotel bar with dark wood panelling

Build brand trust

Despite their growing popularity, peer-to-peer platforms sit at a disadvantage to traditional hospitality institutions for a number of reasons. This is nowhere more obvious than in the inconsistency of the accommodation (and, on occasion, the host). Hotels have an opportunity to promote their rooms as a trusted standard. Hotels should be a home away from home. Clean sheets, hot water and a good night’s sleep should be a guarantee for every guest. Despite the fading relevance of ‘established brand reputation’ (thanks in part to the growth of OTAs), guests still expect high standards in hospitality.

For hotels, it’s imperative to build their own community culture through local marketing and reciprocal engagement. Corporate detachment is not a good look for a hotel brand in the 21st century. Businesses need to provide an open platform for guests to engage with the brand in an informal way. Social media can be a great area for this, but official hotel forums can also foster a sense of community that helps guests feel like more than just a room number. The ‘free democracy’ of the internet is only going to grow.

Woman using hotel wifi in room as a bespoke hospitality solution

What does it all mean for the hotel industry?

Peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb certainly infringe on the profits of the hospitality industry, but that doesn’t necessarily signal a death knell for hotels. The sharing economy grew from the values of trust and communities, but established hotel brands can emulate these values too.

Airbnb’s minimal regulatory controls mean trust and transparency (at least for the hosts) are essential ingredients. They might be based on different business models, but hotels would do well to remember just how far these attributes can take them.

Bags of exotic spices in local market

Culinary culture: 5 reasons to get to know a new country through it’s food

By | Culture, Explore, Travel | No Comments

What’s the fastest way to get the pulse of a country? Some argue that to truly understand a culture, one must live and work with the native population. For those with a limited time-frame, you would do a lot worse in looking to the kitchen for those local insights. In fact, no matter how long you spend in a country, you should take the time to really get to know the local cuisine. Here are just five reasons to discover a country through your taste buds.

Ingredients are key

It’s no secret that understanding a country’s favourite ingredients gives you a better understanding of the native environment. Whether it’s the rice and noodle dishes of the East or the olive-infused dishes of the Mediterranean, the ingredients used in local dishes can tell you a lot about the cultural, geographic and historic influences embedded in a country’s DNA.

For instance, countries that sit along the ancient silk road stretching from the Far East to Northern Africa to Western Europe have, over the years, incorporated a range of spices into their own national dishes. By understanding where these ingredients originated you can begin to build a picture of the imports that have shaped the cultural landscape.
The next time you’re in a new country, take a stroll through the local markets and see what ingredients are on offer. Even when you think you know a country, wandering between the array of colourful herbs and spices is sure to offer up some unexpected finds.

Collection of exotic spices in bowls
The range of ingredients on offer can reveal a lot about the history and geography of a country

Eating styles can be enlightening

Turns out how a dish is eaten can tell you a lot about the local people. For instance, it is common in parts of East Asia to eat most meals with chopsticks. There are competing stories behind the origin of chopsticks. One argument is that the Chinese philosopher Confucius, a vegetarian, argued that knives were inappropriate at the dinner table. Another school of thought claims that, as populations grew, food became scarcer. As a result, food portions became smaller. Instead, people cut food into smaller morsels and employed chopsticks to ‘pick’ from the pot.

So when you’re next travelling, do some digging into the eating practices of the country. Take time to watch how others eat (without making it weird) and try to master the technique for yourself. It can help you learn more about the country but, just as importantly, it could also help you avoid any embarrassing social faux pas.

Noodle dish with chopsticks resting on bowl
Understand why people eat the way they do to understand the culture

Cooking methods are a revelation

Similarly to the eating techniques of different countries, traditional preservation and cooking techniques can reveal a lot about the way people live. In many countries, the cooking methods employed can vary hugely from region to region, making the national dish a valuable starting point to understanding the unique distinctions between different provinces, cities, towns and even villages.

For instance, in northern India, food is often cooked in a tandoor – a circular clay wood-fired oven – as it enables several different dishes to be cooked simultaneously. This has been an essential feature in north Indian villages for hundreds of years, as the women of the village would gather in the evening and cook their dough to make the roti for the other villagers.
On your next international excursion, take some time to inquire about the techniques used by the chef. You could go away with more than just a new recipe.

Chinese chefs cooking local dishes in kitchen
Cooking methods can be dictated by a range of factors, many cultural

Comparisons say more than you think

Going out of your way to sample the same meal in a range of restaurants can help shape your knowledge of how the rest of the nation enjoys their dish. Of course, you won’t want to eat one dish everywhere you go. Nevertheless, sampling a national dish in different locations can add some shading to your knowledge of the various influences in a country’s history.

For instance, in China, the same dish can be replicated multiple times with hugely different tastes, depending on the location. Whether it’s the spicy noodles of the subtropical Sichuan province or the saltier, richer flavours of the cold northeast, dishes can retain the ingredients while varying to suit local tastes.
Exploring the myriad varieties of a single dish allows you to appreciate the diverse hues that make up a country and understand the ethnographic and cultural differences behind regional identities.

Traditional Cuban dish of ropa vieja with rice and beans
The cooking and presentation methods of a dish can reveal hidden influences

Understanding through experience

It’s only by putting yourself in the shoes of the locals that you begin to truly grasp their circumstances. Food is universal but the ways in which we preserve, prepare and enjoy it varies hugely.

All of this requires not just sampling dishes, but talking to locals about other aspects of their culture. Seeing the dish prepared before your eyes can be even more enlightening.

With a Genie phone, guests can find incredible local cuisine at every turn. With an array of apps to guide visitors to the most authentic experiences, there’s never been a better time to explore the world through your taste buds.

Boutique retro hotel sign against blue sky

What does the millennial traveller expect from the hospitality industry?

By | Hospitality, Hotel technology, Industry | No Comments

Millennial travellers take almost twice as many leisure trips as Gen Xers or baby boomers. The hospitality industry must evolve to respond to the needs of their changing demographics or risk losing them altogether.

The hospitality industry lives and dies on anticipating what customers want. But according to a recent study by the global consultancy firm HVS London, most hotels are struggling to keep pace with the changing needs of travellers.

Even with advances in technology, including the advent of analytics to study browsing behaviour, the hospitality sector has struggled to keep up with the changing needs of the modern guest. That’s a problem for the industry as a whole, with the sharing-economy ready to step in to fill the void.

So what does the modern traveller expect from their holiday experience? While everyone has a different idea of their dream holiday, there are a few recurring themes the hospitality sector would do well to remember.

Authenticity

The guest experience has always been at the forefront of hospitality but today’s travellers expect a more authentic taste of the surrounding culture. As visitors strive to become more immersed in the local society, package holidays centred solely around the hotel are becoming less relevant. This is, in part, down to the growth in social media and increasing levels of cultural assimilation. After all, nobody wants to return from holiday with only pictures of the hotel pool. Guests will always respond more strongly to a hotel that acts as an extension of the surrounding settings. Features like cuisine, language, interior design and even the means of service can play a part in cultivating an atmosphere of true locality.

Travellers today are more likely to reject a location if it seems overly corporate. Instead, tourists today opt for something that better reflects the environment in which the accommodation is based. Modern guests (both young and old) tend to shun generic toys from the hotel gift shop in favour of genuine locally-made products. Likewise, hotels that opt for a uniform approach across every branch will lose out to those that offer a more genuine, locally-informed approach.

View of sunset over cliffs from luxury boutique hotel

Personalisation

Just as guests want to feel a connection with the local culture, they also expect a personalised experience. Price and location will always be a factor, but it’s essential that hotels recognise a guests individual desires and respond to those needs in a way that best suits their guest.

Of course, there’s no way a hotel can possibly appeal to the whims of every visitor. With Genie, coupled with an intelligent Hotel Management System, hotels can engage with visitors on a one-to-one basis without assigning them their own personal concierge. A guest could input their special diet specifications before arrival. The information can then be saved to their personal profile. This, in turn, spares them the rigmarole of explaining their requirements each time they order room service. Not only does this make the life of the guest easier, it enables hotels to provide customised suggestions directly to the visitor.

Millennial traveller using hotel wifi on bed in room

Technology

How do you identify and respond to each customer’s unique requirements without sacrificing efficiency? The answer; technology.

Above all else, the modern traveller wants to feel valued. Technology and, by extension, automation, holds the key to identifying individual needs and appealing to them without stretching company resources. The modern traveller expects a degree of technological functionality from their stay (unless the hotel is marketed as a retreat from the digital world) because so much of their own life is built around technology.

Staying ahead of the technology game doesn’t mean providing bigger, brighter TVs in each room, either. It means recognising the trends in the tech industry that are filtering their way into people’s lives. With the smartphone now a ubiquitous element of daily life for most travellers, hotels can increase both revenue and brand loyalty with the aid of Genie and intelligent automation.

Hotel guests using hotel smartphone to photograph sunset

Privacy

With great power comes great responsibility. The hospitality industry would do well to remember this as the surge of new technologies bring with it untold data-tracking potential. Of course, before passing guest details on to third parties, any company must seek permission from the guest. Hoteliers might be surprised by how protective guests are over their basic information, particularly in light of recent social media data leaks. Hotels should always ensure this information is handled responsibly, regardless of how valuable data is to building customer relationships.

In the age of the modern traveller, privacy extends far beyond the hotel room. Guests expect their information to be used responsibly, to ensure only relevant advertising comes their way. By using a Genie phone, for instance, they can limit the outflow of personal information and still enjoy relevant, exclusive promotions that actually enhance the travel experience.

A Do Not Disturb sign on a luxury hotel door

Freedom

Tired of the same tours, the same attractions and treading the same path as visitors before them, the millennial traveller looks to technology as the number one source of information. With this information, travellers gain build a unique experience that better reflects their own understanding of a culture. 

That’s no reason for hotels to be lax, however. While modern guests want autonomy, this doesn’t mean being left completely to their own devices. The new generation of visitor wants to explore at their own pace and in their own way. Technology provides the opportunity for guests to shape their own adventure, but also for hotels to provide support, should they need it.

As far as striking the balance between autonomy and dependence goes, it’s largely down to the hotel, the guests and the nature of the surrounding attractions. For hotels based in rural areas, providing regular transport to attractions could be essential. For visitors to a hotel in the heart of a city, guests may prefer a lighter touch. Advice on the best modes of transport, maps highlighting popular routes or digital tours provided through a Genie phone give guests the freedom to explore at their leisure while keeping them on the right track.

Millennial travellers using luxury hotel smartphone to take a selfie

The biggest challenge facing the hospitality industry today is how to respond the ever-changing needs of clients. With so many different reasons for visiting a new city, the onus is on the industry. It’s down to the hotels, the B&Bs, the villas and the hostels to effectively respond to guests’ interests in a way that allows them to define their own experience while giving them an insight into the real vibe of the local area. It’s a tall order, but the hotels hosting the next generation of traveller will be those capable of rising to this challenge.

Using a luxury hotel smartphone with apps to help you discover tourist destinations

Top 10 travel apps to help you discover a new city

By | Explore, Hotel technology, Travel | No Comments

Travel apps are the new guidebooks, but choosing which to download for your next trip can be daunting. That’s why we’ve gathered the top travel apps to gets you feeling at home in a new city in no time. Happy travels!

Visiting a new destination is thrilling, but finding your way around an unfamiliar city can be a daunting task. You want to discover a city’s hidden pleasures but, of course, you want to avoid substandard meals or hours of wandering in circles.

Lonely Planet Guides

A staple of the travelling scene for over 40 years, it was only a matter of time until the Lonely Planet got in on the app game. While not offering much off the beaten track, the insights provided by Lonely Planet Guides are pretty solid.

The app comes with a simple, clean UI to enable easy navigation as you traverse new streets, while the audio phrase-books can give you the confidence to start engaging with locals like a pro.

Lonely Planet has always been a firm favourite in the traveller’s itinerary. That’s thanks in large part to the reliable recommendations. With the essential tips in this app, you can ditch the guidebooks without losing the knowledge.

Using smartphone apps with 4G to find tourist destinations

Sidekix

OK, so there’s a thousand apps out there promising to show you the top hidden spots in any given city. Most of these apps probably have a few hidden gems too but, for a consistently reliable exploration tool, Sidekix has to our first choice.

With curated listings specially chosen by locals, the app gives you a personalised insight into new cities.

The real gem of Sidekix, however, lies in its interest-based routeing. The app doesn’t just give you directions to reach your destination, it selects routes based on what you can see and do on the way, so every step offers the opportunity for discovery.

Hotel guests tracking their route in a new city using smartphone data

Spotted by Locals

Spotted by Locals does exactly what it says on the tin – recommending the best local hangouts to check out in a new area.

The app is pretty versatile, allowing you to choose local venues based on your interests and even specify further. Looking for food? Choose from a huge range of cuisines across hundreds of cities. After some entertainment? Spotted by Locals comes with a whole host of categories to ensure you find just what you’re looking for.

With regular updates on all the latest shows, events and haunts, Spotted by Locals could well be your new favourite travel companion.

Using guest smartphone with mobile data to find tourist spots

Sit or Squat

We’ve all been there. You’re exploring a new area when nature calls, but you don’t know where to go without causing an international incident. Step forward Sit or Squat, the toilet-finding app that rates latrines based on such vital attributes as their cleanliness and accessibility.

Of course, Sit or Squat probably won’t help you discover the secret spots of a new city, it probably won’t help you find your new favourite hangout and it definitely won’t lead to any incredible photo opportunities. What it will do, however, is help you find a clean public restroom, and that can be just as important, especially if you’re regretting that seafood dish the night before.

The app allows you to add new locations and spread the word about the best restrooms in town, although why anyone would want to read toilet reviews on holiday is another matter altogether.

A toilet finding app to discover new locations while travelling with free data

EatWith

How do you tap into the vibe of a new city? Some people will tell you it’s by talking to the locals. Others will say it’s all about getting acquainted with the local cuisine. Well, EatWith takes both of those and combines them to give you a dining experience you’ll never forget.

EatWith has created a community of dedicated foodies and uber-sociable home chefs to give you the real taste of a new city. Just download the app, check out the menus in your area and book a seat.

The app comes with an added advantage – every meal is eaten around a communal table with other strangers, allowing you to meet new and interesting people from all walks of life while chowing down on delicious local cuisine. Bon appetit!

Finding food in a new city with free data roaming and travel apps

Trippy

Like a lot of great ideas, Trippy’s appeal lies in its simplicity. Download the app, ask a question to the community regarding a new place or an upcoming trip and make decisions based on the feedback.

Not only does Trippy provide a platform to learn about great events and experiences, it allows you to contribute your own responses. This gives you the opportunity to develop your reputation as a tastemaker while giving visitors to your area a real local experience.

Because the app works on a rating system, you can see which responses have the highest number of ‘Likes’, and begin to build your trip around this advice.

Discover and track new places with unlimited free data abroad

Dark Sky

Every now and then, travelling requires you to relinquish control and accept whatever comes your way. One thing definitely beyond your control when exploring a new city is the weather, but that doesn’t mean you can’t coordinate your day around what you know.

Step forward Dark Sky, the most accurate hyper-local weather report app around. With to-the-minute forecasts, you can traverse a new city and know exactly what the weather will be like at all times.

With stunning, detailed maps and real-time updates, Dark Sky could mean the difference between a day of unspoilt exploration or a miserable sodden slog.

View weather patterns in real time using free mobile data abroad

HearPlanet

Think about the first time you explored a new location – what senses come to mind? Well, HearPlanet is here to give you an aural-jolt to the senses. As the world’s largest audio guide, you can explore hundreds of thousands of locations with the aid of a personal tour guide.

For such a remarkably simple concept, HearPlanet is insanely handy. Not only can you choose from a range of great tours with filters to find exactly what you’re looking for, you can add your own, personalised tour for others to enjoy later.

For an added bonus, give HearPlanet a try in your native city. You never know what you might find out.

Find the best personal walking tours with free hotel smartphone

Citymapper

One of the hardest parts of getting to grips with a new city is the transport. What might seem like a logical network to locals can look like a baffling maze to the uninitiated.

That’s why Citymapper, the app for all things transport-based, is so useful. It’s the ultimate tool for navigating confusing routes, giving you details on every possible mode of transport in your new city while helping manoeuvre the often bewildering intricacies of foreign transport networks.

What separates Citymapper from the array of other travel apps out there is its common sense approach. The app provides regular updates to ensure all routeing info is relevant while providing the simplest, cheapest and most direct routes.

Using a city mapping app while exploring a new city with 4G data roaming

ChefsFeed

Looking for the best culinary offerings in a new city can be a challenging experience. You want an authentic experience, but not necessarily one that involves unfortunate mistranslations and dodgy dishes.

ChefsFeed takes the guesswork out of finding the best restaurants by asking top chefs for their recommendations. The easy to navigate UI lets you read reviews from the best in the business, while the chef profiles allow you to see videos and stories on every aspect of the industry.

Picture Yelp or TripAdvisor, but with all the reviews done by industry specialists. Say goodbye to sub-par pasta, rubbish roasts and mediocre meze. Say hello to delicious dishes from some of the world’s top chefs!

Find incredible food by top chefs with luxury hotel smartphones

So there you have it; just a few of the best apps to make the most of your next city trip. Of course, when you’re in a new country, it can be difficult to get mobile data without incurring significant charges. With a Genie phone, you can stay connected all day long, wherever you are, and it won’t cost a thing.

Using mobile internet while travelling on a motorbike

Why consistent guest connectivity is the final frontier in travel

By | Hospitality, Hotel technology, Mobile data | No Comments

Staying connected in a foreign country can be a major challenge. Even with the growth of overseas data packages, visitors are often left to their own devices when they step outside their hotel. That’s why consistent guest connectivity is so vital to the modern travel experience.

With the huge strides we’ve made in wireless connectivity in the past decade, there has come a deficit in services. While connectivity is a given in our home countries, it’s a different story when we go abroad. Foreign visitors often find that getting online is more costly than they planned, a revelation which can cast a pall over even the best made holiday plans.

Connect to share

With advances in data-roaming, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be connected at all times. This is especially true when visiting a new city with so many photo opportunities begging to be uploaded in real-time. Of course, there are still areas of the world without any data coverage, but the middle of a city shouldn’t be one of them.

For those with limited memory on their device, new pics have to be uploaded to the Cloud when they’re taken, and that’s where data coverage is essential.

For visitors that want to split into separate groups to explore, finding their way back to each other without any connection can be an ordeal, especially in a new city. Data enables guests to stay connected wherever they are, which means more time to explore and less time wandering.

Girls using hotel smartphone to take a selfie

Extra security = extra freedom

By maintaining consistent guest connectivity, hotels can ensure their safe passage around a new environment and give guests the freedom to explore beyond the usual tourist traps while staying safe.

Should the worst happen and a guest’s device is stolen, the data connection can act as a locator tool to identify where it is, and hopefully, help the police locate it and return it to the owner. A device without data and with no GPS enabled, meanwhile, is essentially lost to the world.

Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous people out there, and tourists can make easy targets. By ensuring they always have a direct line to the hotel, guests can check any questionable deals before parting with their hard-earned cash. In this way, hotels can ensure a scam-free holiday experience and build brand loyalty in the process.

Travelling girl using hotel smartphone with 4G data

Data means discovery

There are some that decry the growing use of smartphones abroad, arguing it’s a distraction from the many wonderful new experiences around you. It’s true, spending your entire holiday with your face glued to a screen is no way to experience a country. However, having a consistent connection and, by extension, access to a range of apps, can improve your holiday experience immeasurably.

With unlimited data, guests can roam an entire city using a reliable and accurate navigation app. They can visit the city’s best attractions, enjoy meals at the hottest restaurants and even discover hidden cultural gems off the beaten track.

Data can actually provide a lifeline to the urban explorer, giving them a means through which to discover beyond the impersonal group tours and whistle-stop open top bus experience. With Genie devices, hotels can provide unlimited data to guests and provide remote suggestions on the best venues in the local area.

Using a tablet with data abroad to find restaurants

Mobile data in hospitality

Going abroad comes with its own set of obstacles, and that’s before you even arrive. Checking the house is secure, cancelling the paper, arriving at the airport with enough time and ensuring everyone travelling has the right documentation; all of these add complications to a supposedly stress-free holiday. When guests arrive at their destination, alleviating any further stress should be a hotel’s top priority.

However, one element often goes overlooked. Staying in touch with friends and family back home without running up a huge phone bill can be a major challenge, not to mention an unnecessary headache for potentially jet-lagged visitors.

That’s why data can mean the difference between a one-time visit and a regular guest. Providing little luxuries like access to social channels makes maintaining connectivity with loved ones markedly easier, something that will not go unnoticed when they’re writing up their post-checkout review.

Man using unlimited calls and texts to call

Apps can enhance the local experience

Above all else, you want your guests to be able to experience the local area safely and in comfort. In other words, you want guests to discover an authentic side to your city. The only way to truly experience a city like a local is to live as they do.

A wander through the local streets, food in the local cafes and engaging with the locals are essential activities, but what can guests do to really get under the skin of a new city? While mobile apps won’t make or break a holiday, they can definitely help guests get acclimated to a new culture.

With translate apps, guests can become more comfortable talking to locals in their native tongue. Apps aimed at promoting local events enable visitors to get beyond the tourist traps and experience a night out like a local. Apps certainly won’t define a holiday, but when used intelligently, they can enhance the experience and give insight into native life.

Using a smartphone with international data to talk with locals

Of course, some would argue data is actually negatively impacting the hospitality industry. They point to free online calls nullifying any need for legacy phone systems, from which hotels often make additional revenue when guests make international calls. They point to the decline in guided tours and in-hotel guidebooks.

But, as they say, “When one door closes, another opens.” Data may make some outdated, money-making features seem redundant, but it also provides new opportunities for the hospitality industry as a whole. Mobile data abroad doesn’t have to be a crutch, it can be a tool to enable a new kind of informed, and more secure, exploration and create a direct line through which hotels can engage with guests. The sooner the industry embraces these opportunities, the sooner everyone will feel the benefits.