Coming soon... a new app for independent hotels
Home2nite is where the hospitality industry meets mobile technology. A new app is designed to give Europe's independent hotels a smart advantage over the big chains in improving customer experience.
© lankogal #185135563, 2018 fotolia.com
With over two million apps currently available for download, it’s easy to think everything has already been invented. But there’s always room for innovation, especially in the hotel industry which has been relatively slow to experiment with this new technology.
At the Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, a team of Turkish computer engineers and mobile application wizards is busy working towards a future in which independent hotel owners can attract more customers (thus boosting revenue), increase engagement with them and improve overall operational efficiency along with customer satisfaction and all with ease.
With the help of European Union funding, the Home2nite project team is developing an app designed especially for independent hotels which account for 60% of room supply in Europe. The overall drive is to help them compete effectively with the big chains.
A smartphone solution
Officially launched in August 2017, the project started with a problem experienced by a hotel in Dubai.
“The hotel came to us with a mobile application demand,” says Özgür Zan, Home2nite’s project coordinator. “After conducting extensive market research, we recognised a real need for hotels in terms of guest ownership, managing online reputation and digital marketing tools. We also found that independent hotels suffer from global competition.”
Home2nite’s ambition is to ensure independent hotels have access to the tools and skills they need for survival in the face of fierce competition from global chain hotels and global travel brands like Airbnb and Booking.com.
“This is why we decided to launch this project to unite the independent hotels with an app,” explains Zan. “It’s important for the hotel industry to boost guest engagement. In a world of rapid change, guests want more quality service and better experience.”
He compares the Home2nite app’s survey feature to a service provided by the global taxi technology company Uber. “When you get out of the car, you get a notification and you rate the Uber experience. Actually, what we want to do is to get feedback while guests are still at the hotel. This way, the hotel can address something that goes wrong.
“So the hotel will know more about its guests about their satisfaction with the services,” he adds. “When they receive a service, they will get a survey and the hotel will know if they are happy or not. Also, guests will receive lots of information about promotions and will be able to earn loyalty points for any hotel included in Home2nite.”
According to Zan, making use of smartphones is a must since 80% of guests use them. “And they don’t want to call some number and face language problems if they are not in their home country,” he says. Instead, “they will just get online and place their request. And even if they don’t know the local language their message will be translated for the hotel staff. Everything will be automated and everybody will be happy about this!”
And the bottom line: Zan says the hotel will generate more revenue simply by paying fewer commission rates, and by increasing customer engagement. “This translates into more customer returns.”
Still in development, the app’s release is slated to coincide with the project’s end in July 2019. The team is currently testing the prototype in close collaboration with potential customers. Their feedback, says Zan, is crucial.
“At first we didn’t know anything about the hotel industry,” admits Zan. “We needed to verify some of the problems because we were skeptical about whether there is a real problem, or if we just think there’s a problem. To overcome this challenge, we met with a lot of hotel industry leaders, hotel owners, hotel chain managers, hotel IT managers, hotel marketing managers and hotel sales managers, and we talked to each and every type of hotel. So we verified the need.”
The reaction from the hotels was positive. Investors are also keen and are already knocking at the door, says Zan.
“We feel that we are now in a mature phase in terms of defining our market strategy, the product features, and the technology. We are very confident in our project and we are now open for investors and we plan to proceed faster.”
EU funding pays off
Quick to stress the benefits of the EU funding, Zan notes that being part of a European project has really paid off.
“There is a lot of communication from the European Union and we feel they sincerely want us to succeed,” he says. “This motivates us Of course, the funding is very important because it allows us to focus.”
As a seasoned entrepreneur (Zan has co-founded six start-ups before starting Home2nite), he understands the importance of having a team that is dedicated to the vision at hand.
“Thanks to the EU funding, we have been able to create a great team and to focus on this project. These are must-factors for success in entrepreneurship.”
Focused now on preparing for next summer’s launch, Zan says he is confident they will meet their deadline. “We have other plans as well,” he adds. “I don’t want to disclose these because they are confidential, but we have set many other milestones as well.”