A few months ago I wrote about my favorite hotel iPad and iPhone apps. My focus was on apps created by the hotels themselves, instead of third party booking sites. I wanted to see which brands were doing it right and which one were miserable failures. My results were conclusive, if not depressing. Very few were doing it right, but it was easy to find the best app available at the time by any hotel group – InterContinental.
Why did their app impress me so much? Well for one, it was the only one I found that was designed specifically for the iPad, which meant they were smart enough to take advantage of all the extra capabilities the iPad offers. Instead of creating a generic mobile booking site like almost every other hotel brand, they created a travel planning experience.
You can select any of their destinations and instead of being bombarded with deals and booking rates, the friendly voice of that particular hotel’s concierge greets the visitor, a short video showing the best their city has to offer. That’s right, the best their CITY has to offer, not the hotel. InterContinental understands better than anyone that you first need to get the guest excited about traveling to the destination before talking about hotel rooms.
In addition to the video, their guides feature sample itineraries, maps and links to area attractions. Of course you can also check out the hotel, find out rates and book a room, but the focus is on the travel experience first and foremost.
Lest you think this is a commercial, I wrote all of this months ago of my own free will.
However, I am a skeptic. I rarely believe that travel brands live up to their words, in fact I wrote a piece about how often hotels dupe us during the booking process. So I wanted to put InterContinental to the test. I want to see if that friendly guy in the video can deal with a high-strung, hard to please traveler like myself. With the hotel’s assistance, I have been and will continue to be able to contact the concierge at the InterContinental Melbourne – The Rialto where we are staying and pester him with any number of questions and requests.
More than just a test for InterContinental though, it’s a true examination of the luxury travel experience, which I have also addressed before. I’m looking forward to finding out for myself if the polished image in the iPad app delivers in person.
Just to be open and honest with you all, InterContinental is picking up a couple of nights and we’re picking up a couple of nights, a nice balance I think.