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As top hotel groups created smartphone apps to enhance the guest experience, Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) created a separate app to arm international travelers with thirteen languages.
Out of the ten most successful apps listed on App Annie, Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), Choice Hotels, and IHG were the hotel companies that made the list.
From this group, Marriott International and IHG were the only two that have a separate app — SPG has keyless entry available on its existing mobile and Apple Watch travel app — that turns the device into a utility; opening doors and translating common phrases, respectively.
When asked about the rationale of IHG creating a mini version of the its translator app from mobile devices to Apple Watch, its spokesperson referred to its tens and thousands of downloads, and a high rating as an indicator towards healthy adoption.
He added, “Digital is increasingly incorporated across the guest journey and whether it’s through personal computer, smartphone, and now wearable devices such as Apple Watch, travelers increasingly expect to have access to contextual information and simple functions to make their travel easier.”
There are a few features that are not available in the current version of the IHG Translator App on Apple Watch. It lacks the capability of detecting the traveler’s location to automatically provide the translation in-market, forcing the user to press through thirteen options — Castilian Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.
There is no audio version of the translation, which may be satisfied with the old way of providing the foreign language equivalent, phonetically. How well the app can filter the voice-to-voice feature in a noise-filled environment like a bazaar to haggle with conviction, a crowded street to kindly ask for directions, or a bustling cafe to politely order a quick meal is yet to be tested.
On the subject of a main consideration with user experience, “When building it, we evaluated some of the most commonly used languages to determine which ones would launch in the first instance. We anticipate this will grow with subsequent development and releases,” said the spokesperson.