Apple selects launch partner in HRS for hotel tools on Passbook app

Nice win for HRS as it announces it will be the first – and initially exclusive – provider of technology to allow iPhone users to manage their hotel reservations on the new Passbook service.

A few weeks on from when Apple started giving out details about its Passbook system and users could take the new operating system, with a string of retailers and a few airlines such as United include in the first wave of partners, HRS looks to have secured a major deal with the tech giant.

The “joint venture”, as HRS calls it, allows users to handle their hotel bookings within the native app on their iPhones and iPads including adding and monitoring reservations with any of the hotel portal’s properties.

This currently comes in at around 250,000 hotels in 180 countries around the world, so a substantial array of properties including large chains and independents.

HRS won’t have it all its own way for long, of course, with it only being the “exclusive launch partner” for Passbook’s hotel functionality this week.

Others are expected to come on-board and be added as partners in the coming weeks and months, but HRS is the first global hotel partner for Apple and will have the tool available in all regions immediately.

Travellers, according to HRS, will be able to find their reservations, associated documents and other details on the app and will be able to show the confirmation on the handset’s display when checking in to a property.

HRS managing director in the UK & Ireland, Jon West, reckons:

“We see a huge potential for this application – Passbook could become the core application for the future management of all digital reservations and tickets.”

Many agree.

Garry Kelly, a lead engineer at SITA Lab, wrote in June this year when the first Passbook code was being farmed out to developers to code against that mobility and travel management had reached “critical mass”.

“NFC is going to happen and it is clearer now there will be several competing versions – with Apple iWallet eventually being one of them.

“Passbook is great for iPhone users but the halo effect will increase awareness and adoption of fast travel experiences we all want for our industry.

“Making boarding passes easy to use on iPhones so Apple can offer a great user experience, is likely the most it will get from our industry from this development and we should embrace this innovation.”

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Edward - LoungeUp

    I echo the thoughts of Gary Kelly, who predicts a halo effect promoting increased industrial adoption of smart travel experiences caused by the involvement of Passbook. There is plenty of technological innovation available to the hospitality industry which can greatly improve guest experience. Mobile booking and check-in is but the tip of the iceberg in relation to the impact mobile solutions can have on hotels.

  2. Robert Gilmour

    Can’t believe this is the best Apple can do, with what’s out there – gobsmacked

    Perhaps some hotel input into this might nhave been helpful, perhaps there was (input) I’ve no idea

    Hotels are bottom of the pile anyway, they’d be the last to be consulted i’d suspect

  3. Jon West

    @chris – Whilst HRS did not have exclusivity to Apple’s Passbook, they were the only hotels launch partner. Although not a joint venture in the legal sense of the term, HRS worked in partnership with Apple’s Passbook application to offer Passbook functionality to their customers.

  4. Jon West

    @ian – In terms of implementing the functionality, what was unique to HRS was that they were the only launch partner for hotels.

  5. Jon West

    @ian @chris – We were delighted to be selected as the hotel launch partner for the new Apple Passbook application, however this was for the launch period alone. It was only a matter of time before other hotel providers came on board as partners, due to increasing awareness of the application.

    • Ian

      Oh ok. I’ve never seen HRS in the “Apps for Passbook” page on iOS 6. Is this an exclusive list of companies (only Airbnb, AA, Lufthansa & UA are representing the travel category there now) that Apple is curating? I’m curious what you’ve heard from Apple with regards to how it will promote HRS (and other Passbook-integrated apps).

  6. Chris Griego

    Sources? When/where were claims made of joint ventures and exclusivity?

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @chris – the source is HRS. We double-checked on the exclusivity, which it claims it has for the “launch” phase.

  7. Ian

    Airbnb implemented its Passbook functionality last week and Jettsetter also did so today. Did HRS do something unique?


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