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By Alan E. Young

The current boom in mobile technology innovations are once again transforming the travel and hospitality landscape. Hyperlocal data and information can be incredibly useful for digital engagement in today's mobile world. The capability to deliver useful, proactive content to travelers can enrich the guest experience and ultimately heighten the visibility and relevance of the hotel. According to a recent study by Eleven Wireless, 81% of travelers are interested in some form of mobile content, 74% of guests say they would access hotel content on a mobile device and 95% of guests bring mobile phones on an average trip.

Hyperlocal, as it is termed in tech circles, enables hotels to use a smartphone's GPS data to geographically target their guests for the purpose of delivering relevant content. This content can include nearby restaurants, museums, shopping and gyms. Practically anything that a person would find of interest can be provided to them by the use of aggregating hyper-local information.

One company that is taking the delivery of hyperlocal data to the next level is Bangalore-based FindmyCarrots.

FindmyCarrots creates hyperlocal information from the unstructured data using technology as the underpinning:

  • They crawl the Internet, often blog sites and CVBs for the towns/cities that are focused upon.

  • They extract points of interest (POIs) and dive deeper to understand what people have to say about these POIs.
  • They then associate the mood that people express with the attributes of the POIs and make all of these searchable.
  • They finally make all these POIs searchable by distance from the places of tourist interest.

Use cases that explain the delivery of the technology are relatively simple, however the impact related to the service guests receive from the hotel is rather impressive.

For example:

  • A couple has checked into a hotel and is craving Mexican cuisine, with live music as it is a Friday night, and that is close to his place of stay. Hyperlocal can provide such useful information/suggestion.

  • A traveler is in Austin, Texas and wants to go shopping but has already explored 6th Street. Hyperlocal comes in handy here, too. Being able to offer relevant items of interest to that traveler will enhance their overall trip, especially if it is delivered to the guest by a branded hotel mobile site.

Another way that hyperlocal information can be valuable is guided tours for hotel guests. The kicker is the fact that the guest is using their smartphone and its GPS capabilities as the guiding element of the tour. No longer do people have to walk around in packs to enjoy a great excursion. Now they can take their time and personalize the experience of discovering the sights and sounds near their hotel.

GuestU, a London-based company, has developed a GPS guided tour solution that will revitalize and enhance guest service from the hotels perspective. Once again, a white-labeled app is used to deliver a myriad of guided tours options to hotel guests. 

GuestU also has an events capability.  Guests use the app to explore the area around their hotel to find recommendations on things to do. If guests are looking, for instance, for events to attend after dinner, the events feature displays several options for them to relax and have fun.

I attended HITEC a few weeks ago, and the floor was awash in companies delivering "Guest Engagement or Experience Management Solutions".  The one thing that I found most interesting was that each company had virtually the same vision - whether it be using SMS to communicate, letting guest bypass front desks by checking in online and obviously, the capability to offer incentives to upgrade. To me, this is better defined as guest communication, not engagement. 

Starting my career out with a luxury hotel brand that prided itself on high touch service, I believe that technology companies need to be an extension of service delivery. To truly enhance someone's stay, you must make a connection that is memorable, not just easier.

The benefits of hyperlocal data in concert with personal on-property service can create a strong, long lasting bond between the guest and hotel - and in the hospitality industry that is the definitive goal. 

About Alan E. Young

Alan E. Young is the President of Puzzle Partner Ltd. and Co-founder of Next Big Thing Travel & Hospitality ( Previously, Alan has held executive level positions with startup companies such as Newtrade Technologies, (acquired by Expedia), Hotel Booking Solutions (acquired by IBS Software) and TrustYou. Alan is past Chair of The Board of Directors of The OpenTravel Alliance, and been very involved with other industry associations most notably AHLA, HEDNA and HTNG. With over two decades of experience in the travel and hospitality technology world, Alan specializes in helping innovative companies achieve winning performance and dramatic growth.

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