Tink Labs is a standout Hong Kong company in the hotel ecosystem. It attracted $170 million in funding to make its Handy loaner smartphones a free amenity in hotels worldwide. But we found some other companies that are also offering promising tools for hoteliers.
While TripAdvisor organizes information “about” a hotel, other companies can organize information “around” a hotel to provide more services that guests specifically want.
During the last year, several startups — Tink Labs (via its Handy brand), As You Stay, iReckon U, and Wyndow, among them — have begun to showcase their wares to hotels worldwide for this purpose.
>>Handy is a company that gives hotel guests customized smartphones as a free amenity. The phones are customized to enable guests to interact with the hotel and also discover things to do near the property. Handy phones are created by Tink Labs, which has raised more than $170 million, making it one of the best-funded startups in Hong Kong. The phones are in 20 cities, covering 100,000 rooms. The company claims to have helped 10 million global travelers stay connected. It aims to reach travelers in 100 markets this year.
>>Skift Take: Whether Handy (and by extension Tink Labs) succeeds depends on whether it can help hotels boost incremental revenues by 20 percent as well as provide hotels with lucrative information on guest behaviors via easy-to-understand analytics. The company rents its phones to hotels through long-term subscription deals, a promising model.
>>As You Stay is a mobile app that allows travelers to book a hotel room for a few hours (between one and 23) at a fraction of the rate they would pay for a full day. With participating hotels, it even allows guests to stay outside the limits of standard check-in and check-out times. The New York-based startup has received funding from friends and family, has nine employees, and officially launched October 2016.
>>Skift Take: As You Stay is entering a market that already has other players, such as DayUse, Hotels by Day, and ByHours, which are all fighting for customers through search engine marketing. We worry, too, that many boutiques, independent, and franchised hotels may lack the operational flexibility to participate. The reason: As of today, far too many hotels have operational structures that make such by-the-hour flexibility difficult, from managing the labor to tallying the income in their systems.
>>iReckonU provides a middleware hospitality solution that allows for an overall decrease in operation costs. Instead of relying mainly on a traditional property management system, managers could use the startup’s software to run a 350-room hotel with only six workers, for example. The startup has not received any funding.
>>Skift Take: For years, the property management system has been an operational core for hotels, but as times have changed, it has become unwieldy. We think iReckonU is on a promising path that moves hotels toward a non-PMS-based set of widgets that hoteliers can mix-and-match with different modules. But seeing more actual hotel case studies of iReckonU’s tool in action would help us become believers in its product.
>>Wyndow is giving hotel guests a tool they can use to find local activities to enjoy during their stays. This Sacramento-based company has raised $800,000 in funding for its guest engagement technology.
>>Skift Take: There have been lots of companies that have attempted to give local activity suggestions to travelers but they all struggle with the challenge of standardizing and providing relevant content. Wyndow goes up against better-funded companies like TripAdvisor and also technology innovators like Wayblazer and Button. But it might thrive it if could eventually allow opportunities for hotels to upsell guests on services.
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Photo credit: Numerous travel startups help hotels engage with their guests. Pictured, guests and staff seems excited about the opening of the swimming pool at The Donovan, a Kimpton Hotel, in Washington, D.C. in May 2015. Kimpton Hotels