2019 A year of growth and change by Criton’s Founder & CEO Julie Grieve

19th December 2019

Julie Grieve Criton

It’s hard to believe that Criton turned three this month.  Being a startup things regularly change, but 2019 was probably the most significant year for us since our creation in 2016.  As we look ahead to a New Year it’s a great time to reflect on what has been achieved by the team this year; what’s happened in the hospitality technology industry and what trends we’re seeing as we enter 2020.


In early 2019 we launched the results of a survey which we believe represents one of the biggest sample sizes for insights into technology in our industry.  With over 3,600 responses recorded, a fantastic 74% stated that if their favourite hotel had an app they would use it. Nearly 60% were very likely or likely to use digital door key and 62% regularly use travel apps.  

Our insights proved so compelling that Hotel Management Magazine quoted them alongside a survey that the Expedia group ran with hoteliers, with the OTA stating that reliance on technology is becoming increasingly important as hotels start to gain a competitive advantage with strategic technology investments.  We’ll be undertaking further research in 2020 - you can view 2019 results in full here.


Over the summer we established our Advisory Board.  We’re delighted that such an influential and well-established group of hospitality and technology experts have come together to support a significant period of growth for Criton.  The new Board includes figureheads such as Peter Lederer (former Chairman of both Gleneagles and VisitScotland), David Turnbull (co-founder of SnapShot) and Diana Easly-Montador (formerly of Microsoft and eBay).  The Board have already provided valuable insights for the Criton team and we look forward to working with them in the months to come.


In October we launched our most innovative product to date - Criton 2.0.  Our new app design has been created to enable hotels to adopt the perfect digital guest journey.  New functionality includes guest account creation, booking retrieval, digital check-in and door key access.  

While Marriott and Hilton have invested $1bn in developing their technology; Criton empowers independent hotels with the tools to simplify their own digital transformation.  Integrations are key pillar in our strategy to enable hotels to work with the partners they wish to. We now work with multiple PMS’s and more are built into our 2020 roadmap.


At Criton, we’re firm believers in own device.  Your guests travel with their own smartphone, tablet and laptop, so why put more tech (that they don’t know how to use!) in their room?  In July the Financial Times were the first to report that Tink Labs, the company behind the in-room smartphone Handy had gone into administration.  Overnight thousands of devices in hundreds of hotels stopped working.  Hoteliers were left with hardware they could no longer use and were immediately left with the challenge of finding a way to provide their guests with all the information they needed in-stay.  

But in-room devices are also only useful in-stay.  By adopting a mobile strategy it allows you to communicate with your guests pre and post-stay - enabling the opportunity to upsell and increase income through onsite facilities and services.  By the end of 2020 both Marriott and Hilton will have fully adopted digital door key. An in-room device won’t let your guests have a truly epic guest journey - hoteliers need to give their guests the choice of how and when to engage with them on their own terms and of course I would  say you can easily get there by developing your own app - forget about in-room devices that give you limited content control and time with your guests.  


In June we were thrilled to be recognised by industry leader SKIFT as one of the Top 25 Travel Start Ups to Watch in 2019!  Criton sits alongside other emerging technology companies from around the world including the USA, China, Japan and Australia to name just a few.  Accolades like this are a testament to the work of our team - from Product to Marketing, Sales and Customer Experience - it’s one big team effort.

Closer to home we were delighted to be recognised as the Mobile Startup Of The Year at the Scottish Tech Startup Awards in November.  


As we look ahead to the New Year the Criton team are going to be busy focusing on expanding our integrations - ensuring we’re working with leading technology providers in the hospitality industry.  We take pride in ensuring we’re listening to our clients and the sector to ensure Criton remains at the fore of hotel and guest expectations. PMS and digital door key partners are a priority for Criton 2.0 and our future roadmap.

Check-out our top predictions for what 2020 might look like!  

I’d like to thank our amazing clients for their business and ongoing support and our partners and stakeholders for a fantastic year. I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings, one thing is for sure it will never be dull in the world of hospitality technology.