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HK hotels woo guests with apps

Teresa Leung | Nov. 15, 2012
Two hotels in Hong Kong are leveraging mobile apps to give guests a new experience during their stay.

Two hotels in Hong Kong are leveraging mobile apps to give guests a new experience during their stay.

Both Hotel ICON in Tsim Sha Tsui East and L'hotel élan in Kwun Tong have integrated apps for guests' use with their backend systems, though the hotels approach mobility in different ways.

L'hotel élan--part of the L'hotel Group, owned by the Chinachem Group--opened on May 21 this year, and targets tech-savvy travelers. The majority of the hotel's guests, 70%, come from Asia, including China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, said the hotel.

The hotel puts Apple iPad 2 devices in each of its 254 rooms and suites--the iPads use eGuest to drive guest-services. The guest service system is built on IBM-partner MVI's in-room entertainment system and secured with MVI's mobile device management (MDM) system, said IBM. The MDM system is also integrated with its property management and point-of-sale systems, according to Big Blue.

The iPads are pre-loaded with 10 international TV channels and hotel-selected apps that deliver the latest news, guest messages, in-room dining orders, a bill review, and express check-out, said Valentina Chiu, front office manager at L'hotel élan.

According to Chiu, the tablets aren't meant to be a TV replacement. "We have TVs with a selection of 48 channels in all rooms," she said. "If one person is watching news on the TV, another person can watch other programs on the iPad."

To the hotel, app deployment on mobile devices is a must. "This will make a real difference in customer experience, customer loyalty, and attracting new customers in today's hospitality market where competition is intense," said Sylvia Chung, the hotel's general manager.

Securing the iPad devices

To physically secure the iPads, which are placed on bedside cabinets in most rooms, the hotel attaches a steel wire to each one. Wires are intentionally short: "We had discussions about the length of the wire," said Chiu, but a longer wire could be a danger--especially for guests traveling with children."

The devices are also monitored by the hotel via its Wi-Fi on a dash board system: hotel staffers receive automatic alerts when any device isn't within the Wi-Fi-covered area.

Guest data protection

To protect guests' data-privacy, staffers are alerted upon a guest's check-out--and wipe apps including Skype and Facebook on an iPad via their dashboard system.

"This is possible because the dashboard is linked to the hotel's property management system that helps monitor guests' check-in and check-out procedures," said Chiu. "Staffers will also remotely install clean versions of those apps back on the iPad so they're available for the next guest's use."

Training required for operations staff like room attendants is minimal. "When they get into a room, all they have to do is to press the OK button to confirm re-installation of the apps," she said.


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