Nikolay Dreharov, a Business Administration and Information Technology expert, has a very clear vision of the future. He also likes to quote William Gibson, who once said: "The future is already here – it's just not very evenly distributed." Under the direction of Dreharov, the Fraunhofer IAO's Urban Living Lab is already experimenting with turning ideas for the future into reality. This includes producing products for the hotel sector as part of its FutureHotel research project. In this interview, hetras asks Dreharov about his favorite hotel apps and what kind of apps he believes are still missing.
Nikolay, why do you use hotel apps?
Hotel apps are an ideal way for me to access all of the key information I need about a hotel and its deeper-level services. My hotel guest and payment details are generally already stored in the system, which saves time, and apps are generally perfectly optimized for interacting from a mobile device. I also really appreciate it when I can download a Smartwatch app on my watch at the same time as installing a Smartphone app, because it makes my interactions with the hotel even more fun and convenient.
Which apps are the best in your opinion?
To me, a hotel's app and website are like a hotel's calling card. An app says a lot about how innovative, design and service-oriented a hotel's concept is. I prefer hotel apps that generally make life easier and more comfortable throughout the entire duration of a trip by providing me with information and options that are always highly relevant to my particular situation.
Could you say a bit more about what you mean by that?
When I'm on my way to a hotel, directions or a map and information on room status are important; when I'm in the lobby, being able to check-in on my mobile device and information on nearby restaurants and entertainment; when in front of my room, a mobile key and when in my room, controls and concierge services.
So, you really appreciate the services provided through apps?
Yes, apps should primarily be designed to provide access to services, but they also benefit from being cool and fun as well. I enjoy being surprised with innovative technical solutions, clever promotions and highly current content – all of which will ultimately increase my loyalty to a hotel brand.
Booking.com Tonight has a lot of great hotel offers and is one of the best-known sites. Are there any niche products that are even better?
Hotel booking portals deliver well when it comes to quantity of offers, but their booking and service options are not very well integrated. In my experience, hotel booking portals always fail to forward my entire hotel guest data to the relevant hotel and switch media while while doing so, which means that I have to spend more time in reception interacting and communicating on arrival at the hotel.
So, are hotels' own apps actually better?
Hotels' own apps are generally better because they are deeply integrated into a hotel's systems. Some hotels' own mobile apps have extra features for even greater convenience – e.g. being able to choose your room (similar to choosing a seat on a plane), their own radio stream (so that you can continue listening to their music at home) or DJ mixes specially produced for the hotel.
Would you, as is already routine in the US, book a hotel through Twitter?
Yes, of course. As far as I am concerned, Facebook Messenger is actually a better platform for doing so. I am expecting some very exciting developments in the area of hotel booking and post-booking services with digital personal assistants like Siri, Google Now and Facebook M.
Are there any travel apps that you think are especially exciting and if so, why?
I really like the concepts and mobile apps of Uber and Airbnb. Most hotel operators would really benefit from the experience of booking and offering a room through Airbnb. This would provide them with a kind of User Experience standard for some aspects of the booking process and then enable them to outdo what's already out there with their own processes and services.
Is there any kind of app you can think of that does not yet exist and would be great to have?
I have quite a few on my to-do list, You will be able to learn more about them when the first one will be live in the App Store J
Many thanks for your time and all this exciting information!To learn more about the work performed by Nikolay Dreharov and the Fraunhofer IAO, please visit:
Photographs: Fraunhofer IAO