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Published on : Wednesday, May 20, 2015
VirtualHotel, formerly known as Cardola Ltd., has developed a new mobile application for multi-property/multi-brand portfolios that enables hotel groups and marketing alliances to showcase and promote their entire property portfolio in a single app. Called “VirtualHotel for Groups,” (available for iOS and Android) the app is being made available with no setup charges to group hoteliers who express interest at the HITEC show, June 15 to 18 at the Austin (Texas) Convention Center. This unprecedented offer is valued at $20,000.
“VirtualHotel now has a dual function: it serves as a group-level sales and marketing platform and transitions into a personalized customer service tool once the guest arrives on-property,” said Ed Vause, business development director for VirtualHotel. “The app is designed to encourage loyal customers to book directly with the hotel while also enabling hoteliers to push promotions, such as seasonal offers and discounts, across the entire group’s customer base. This opens up a new world of direct hotel-to-guest communications and gives marketers a new vehicle to connect with guests before, during and after each stay.”
VirtualHotel for Groups — aimed at brand advocates and returning guests — introduces marketing efficiency for hotels and ease of use for the guest. There is only one app to promote; one app works for all group properties and across all channels. Once a traveller downloads VirtualHotel for Groups, he or she can select a hotel by “Region” (country, state or city), “Experience” (beach, city, dining, golf, romantic, spa, historic, etc.), or the user can simply request accommodations located “Near Me.” Because nearly 70 percent of mobile reservations are made for the same or next day, the Hotels Near Me feature will help capture potentially lost bookings. The app is fully customizable, enabling each property or brand to promote experiences that are applicable to the region and to the demographics of its loyalty customers.
Once users select a property, they are linked to a mobile brochure page. Every hotel in the group will have its own brochure page with photo gallery and location map. Users have the option to 1) book directly with the hotel from the app (reducing reliance on OTAs), 2) link to the hotel’s website, or 3) click to call the hotel or the reservations call center (phone reservations are often overlooked by technology companies).
VirtualHotel for Groups integrates seamlessly with the company’s flagship VirtualHotel product so that guests can find local information and order services directly from their mobile device.
“Most of the larger operators already have an app in the app stores, but these tend to be focused on reservations and are of limited real value to the guest,” Vause said. “We believe that hotels need to offer their guests more value in a mobile app if they are going to generate downloads and incentivize guests to keep the app on their mobile devices. Marriott’s Mobile Request program launched in May is a prime example. At VirtualHotel, we are on a mission to level the mobile playing field. Our message to the smaller hotel groups is that you don’t need a multi-million dollar mobile development budget to compete with the big guns.”
VirtualHotel can be used by guests to order room service, book spa treatments and request a whole range of services, such as wake-up calls, extra pillows or a toothbrush. Links to external services such as airline check-in, local weather forecasts and social networking sites, and a substantial “Local Area Guide” and map of the local area can be created to help visitors navigate round the city and find their way back to the hotel during their stay.