New mobile apps offer active, useful engagement

NATIONAL REPORT—The trouble with mobile apps is that many consumers don’t want to relinquish space on their mobile phones for an app that doesn’t do much, so it’s important for hotels to ensure that their solutions are dynamic and, more importantly, useful.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. this quarter released its ProMeetings app, through which meeting planners can manage events on-site. Planners who are SPG or SPG Pro members can submit on-property requests—from an extension cord, to coffee service, to a change in lighting and everything in between—directly to associates who can fulfill requests in real time.

“Like our guests, our meeting planners and SPG Pro members are inherently mobile and want solutions that match the way they live their lives today,” said Chris Holdren, SVP, Starwood preferred guest & digital. “Our new ProMeetings app gives them the personalization and flexibility they need to deliver flawless experiences for their attendees.”

ProMeetings is in pilot at several Starwood hotels around the world, including W Singapore – Sentosa Cove, The Westin Singapore, Sheraton Atlanta Airport, W Atlanta Midtown and The Westin Charlotte. A full global rollout is expected in 2016.

Likewise, The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago has also released an app—albeit one with a very different purpose. Art of Blu allows guests to experience a curated, self-guided tour through the hotel’s lobby and permanent art gallery. The cultural art tour provides education and insight into the hotel’s design and art collection, which features pieces ranging from Chicago street photography and oil canvas to larger sculptures.

“Our guests seek interactive learning experiences, and we wanted to develop an app to engage travelers in search of a more immersive hotel stay,” said Pierre-Louis Giacotto, general manager of the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago. “One of the conveniences of using your mobile device for travel is the ability to do it yourself, and the Art of Blu app offers guests a seamless way to learn about the hotel and the history of Chicago through the art featured within the hotel.”

Created by AcoustiGuide, the developer of apps for the Guggenheim and the 9/11 Memorial Museum, this museum-quality audio art tour is a first for the hospitality industry, according to the company. Highlights of the tour includes first-hand accounts from American Architect Jeanne Gang, who introduces the Aqua Tower’s architecture; Scottish Interior Designer Jim Hamilton, who shares his Chicago inspirations for the lobby design; and author Richard Cahan, who talks about the Vivian Maier photography hanging in the lobby. Original video, interviews and content take users to the very Chicago streets that Vivian Maier photographed in the 1950s until her death in 2009. The entire hotel tour takes 35 minutes.