A ‘Handy’ Alternative: Your Own Hotel App

22nd August 2019

Handy phones

On Tuesday 30th July, The Financial Times reported that one of Hong Kong’s major startups, Tink Labs, which provided the free-to-use Handy smartphones in hotel rooms around the world, has closed its offices, stopped its service and “is set to shut down”. 

According to The Financial Times, Tink Lab was one of the best funded startups in Hong Kong ($200 million) and provided Handy phone handsets to more than 600,000 hotel rooms across 82 countries via relationships with big hotel chains including Hyatt Hotel, InterContinental Hotel Group and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. 

Staff interviewed by The Financial Times discussed an organisation that pursued growth too aggressively, falling back to earth when its profits did not meet its vision. Following the news, hotels around the world are now left with hardware they are no longer able to use.  A reliance on in-room technology has left thousands with no digital way to enhance the guest experience, lower operational costs, upsell on-site services, drive direct bookings or increase loyalty. 

The downfall of one of the most prominent hotel technology companies brings back to the fore a focus on the main debate. Are in-room devices what guests really want?

In April this year, in partnership with impartial media partners, we audited the preferences of more than 3,600 travellers. The results clearly showed an appreciation for hotel apps rather than in-room mobiles or tablets with 62% of those who travel regularly using an accommodation app. It reinforced the importance of the work that we do here at Criton as we continue to provide the technology that independent hotels need to truly compete with large global brands and chains.

Vitally important in this debate, our research showed that 74% of respondents would overwhelmingly use a hotel app if their favourite hotel was to have one. This was further reinforced when we asked more questions about their views of hotel technology, with only 10% of hotel guests wanting an in-room mobile and 18% an in-room tablet. 

Reflecting on the results of the survey, Julie Grieve, founder and CEO of Criton, said:

“Increasingly, today’s travellers are downloading apps that help them get around and stay connected with their hotel. That level of tech awareness or even dependency also raises expectations for information, guest services, such as check-in, digital key and offers and incentives to reward their loyalty. It is increasingly clear that adopting technology has to be seen as an imperative for all hospitality providers; it is not something purely for the major franchises.”

Concerns persist around the fact that guests might not want to download an app during their stay, but many of our clients prove that this is not the case. Successfully integrating the app into their booking and check-in process, Auchrannie Resort recently reached 12,000 downloads of their app. The Sail Croatia app has been so well received by customers that, in July alone, it reached almost 2,000 downloads. London's leading luxury serviced apartment operator, Cheval Residencesexperienced an increase in direct bookings coming directly from the app and an average of 35 active users per day, with many conversations initiated by guests with the front office teams.


How Criton can help you?

At Criton, we give independent hotels and serviced apartment operators access to the same technology that big chains already adopt. We have created mobile apps with a wide range of functionalities (including push notifications, messaging, ordering, PMS integration, digital key) for clients including luxury boutique hotels and national chains of serviced apartments. Get in touch today to find out how we can help your business.

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