Skift Take

Soon the question won't be whether your hotel has a connected app -- it'll be how good your hotel's app is.

Room service used to be a luxury for many hotel travelers, but as the technology generation has grown into travel, many are now looking for a faster and more efficient replacement.

No longer does it make sense to reach for a bedside phone to order breakfast; now, with a hotel smartphone app in each traveler’s pocket, most amenities once available through the wired hotel system can now be accessed through the cloud.

In no place is the technology-forward design more prescient than in the sprinkling of Virgin Hotels now reaching the market. With a property now open in Chicago and another one coming soon to Nashville, Virgin’s hotels nearly revolve around the smartphone. In addition to ordering room service, the thermostat, in-room music and television is all controlled by the smartphone, connecting the user and room.

Among the legacy hotel chains, Marriott is among the first to integrate room service — or at least a portion of it — with a smartphone app. Launched last week, Marriott’s app effectively allows you to order special services like extra pillows or car service up to 72 hours before your stay, though it doesn’t allow you to order meals.

According to a press release from Marriott, the service has been rolled out to 46 properties already while full-scale launch is slated for this summer.

Applications like those from Virgin and Marriott will only grow as the traveling public demands better and faster connectivity as part of the unified hotel experience. Like paid Wi-Fi, which some believe is going extinct, soon smartphones will play an enormous role in any hotel stay starting from check-in and pervading through the entire stay.

Now it’s just a race to see who can roll out the best functionality the fastest.


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Tags: marriott, room service, virgin hotels

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