Chat apps taking off for large hotel chains

Starwood Hotels has been using Whatsapp and other chat apps since earlier this year to enable guests to make requests during their stay.

The company says the chat app is used to message a hotel before, during and after a stay and accounts 85% of the messages it is getting.

Speaking at a recent EyeforTravel event, Starwood marketing vice president Daniel Kerzner said response times were around a minute.

At the Connected Traveller event Kerzner looked back at in-room services such as telephones in bathrooms and alarm clocks no one could work to demonstrate how far the industry has developed.

Whatsapp, he said, had been implemented without the availability of an API and the hotel group uses an iPad, shared by staff, to monitor incoming requests.

“It was this or nothing if we wanted to provide a service on Whatsapp for our guests. Now we’re figuring out how we do a better job plugging it in. But, if we waited for that we never would have launched it.”

He adds that the use of chat apps in hotels feeds into the desire from guests to “access their own technology on their terms.”

Coincidentally, Marriott International, which acquired Starwood for $12.2 billion in mid November, has just announced the expansion of its Mobile Requests service originally unveiled in May at 46 properties.

Four more brands including  JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels and Marriott Executive Apartments will make the Mobile Requests service available to Marriott Rewards members.

The service is also being extended to Courtyard and Residence Inn hotels in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia.

Marriott is also currently trialling a Mobile Key service using mobile phones for room entry.

Related reading:

Instant messaging flies into travel – WeChat adds flight booking service

NB: Chat apps image via Shutterstock.

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda Fox is managing editor for Tnooz. For the past decade years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.

In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.

Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.

 

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  1. Viko Bhakta

    Linda – Great example of FREE SMS chat solutions. All hotels should be leveraging FB & Whatsapp as $0 communication channels. SMS is the new telephone landline for hotels, i.e. tablestakes — not your entire mobile strategy.

     
 
 

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