One app for everything. How hotels and hostels can keep their guests happy.
Sometimes the best ideas sound very simple. This also applies to the mobile app that we developed together with a&o hotel and hostel group: Book, pay, check in, and unlock the hotel room – all in one app. Our technology expert Henry Bauer explains to us what kind of work and brainpower is behind this idea and what else the app will soon be able to do.
An interview with Henry, March 2019
First of all, congratulations: The a&o app has received the Innovation Award 2019 at the ITB Berlin. What is so special about this app?
That it really makes your life easier. We are already familiar with this concept from flying: Book, pay, and check in conveniently from anywhere with your mobile phone. But the innovative thing about our app is that we have transferred this concept to the hotel and hostel industry and consistently developed it further.
What exactly does that mean?
With our app, service does not end at the entrance of your accommodation, but instead it rather begins here. Guests can check in comfortably on their mobile phones and don’t have to queue at the reception anymore. Instead, they receive all important information directly on their mobile phone, and they also don’t need a key card. They can directly go to their room and open the door with the app.
We are the first hostel group in Europe to offer its guests the mobile key service.
That sounds so logical that it’s surprising that this hasn’t existed before …
That’s true, but a&o is indeed the first hostel chain in Europe to offer this service. And of course it’s not as simple as it sounds. Such a solution has to meet various requirements. It needs to be easy for guests to use and be reliable. It also has to be possible to integrate it into an existing infrastructure without too much overhead.
How did you solve this from a technical angle?
First of all, we developed interfaces with which the mobile app can be seamlessly integrated into the business processes of the hotels and hostels. Furthermore, we opted for a Bluetooth solution. This enabled us to address the digital locking systems of two different providers at the same time. Due to the battery-saving Bluetooth Low Energy standard, the doors are low-maintenance and the mobile phone battery is only marginally used.
Oliver Winter (current CEO) and Michael Kluge founded the a&o chain in 2000. Their goal was to create professionally managed, affordable, and centrally located accommodation for backpackers, youth groups, and families in Berlin. They have developed a hostel concept that combines the most important and customer-friendly elements from the hotel and youth hostel products – all under one roof. The concept was a success. Today, a&o is the largest privately run hostel chain in Europe with 35 hotels and hostels in 21 cities.
Does the app have even more to offer?
Of course! The mobile phone is our constant companion, so it makes sense to bundle additional services in the mobile app. Activate the elevator, access the fitness center, and so on: One click is all you need. We have a lot more ideas that we want to implement step by step. The app is intended to become a “digital concierge.”
And what does a “digital concierge” do?
It gives me all the information I need at the moment: When will breakfast be served tomorrow? Is there a fitness center? Where can I grab a bite to eat? What’s going on in town tonight? The app should recognize the needs of the guests as accurately as possible. To do this, we rely on AI-based push messages. In addition to personal comfort, safety also plays an important part. In an emergency, the app is designed to quickly inform guests and guide them out of the building.
That sounds fascinating. Is the app already in use?
We first tested the initial version of the app, the mobile key app, in the Czech a&o hostel in Prague Rhea. That was so successful that we can now gradually introduce the service to all hotels and hostels. We are starting in Bremen and Frankfurt Ostend. The app itself can be downloaded free of charge from the App Store and Google Play Store.
Would you like to find out more? With pleasure.
Henry is looking forward to your call or message!
- Henry Bauer
- Key Account Manager
- +49 30 246 560 218
- +49 160 88 78 333
- E-mail Henry