iRiS’ virtual hotel valet poised to offer five-star service

UK hospitality technology specialist iRiS Software Systems has predicted rapid uptake of mobile in-room virtual valet systems as it launches an android version of its app.

The iRiS system has been designed as an alternative to conventional in-room guest services offering accommodation providers the ability to increase revenues as well as improve customer service.

Instead of hard copy information in rooms or requiring guests to use the telephone to do things like order room service, a morning paper or a wake-up call this can all be done via a mobile device.

Although the system can be used via a guest’s own mobile device, iRiS is hoping the idea of installing hardware in rooms takes off as this achieves an 86% take-up rate compared to 40% on guest-owned devices.

The core product, which has been actively marketed to the industry for the last 12 months, was developed to be used on a touch screen hand-held iPad-style device in hotel rooms.

iRiS initially developed its own hardware in partnership with a Taiwanese firm but when Apple launched the iPad this transformed the potential of the software by significantly reducing costs.

Hotels that have already adopted the system include preferred supplier partner Kempinski which has started using iRiS’s food a beverage application on iPads in restaurants.

A trial in Kempinski Corvinus Budapest saw wine sales increase by 46% per cover in its Giardino Restaurant and a 20% increase in revenue as guests are guided to sommelier recommendations.

The SWIRE group of hotels has also signed up to use the guest valet system in its new Exeter Hotel, the Magdalen Chapter, that opens this month.

Jason Jefferys chief executive of iRiS Software Systems said: “I believe over the next two to three years every five star hotel will either have tablets in ever room or provide an app for guests to download.

“People are busy and they do not want to be constantly ringing reception or going down to the concierge desk which is four or five people deep.

“More and more people are travelling around the world now and the fact that this is multi-lingual means they can feel completely at home dealing in their own language.

“We have developed this technology recognising that there is a huge growth in mobile phone use. It really improves guest experience and it generates incremental revenue.”

iRiS is selling the virtues of the virtual valet system on the basis that it will save them the costs of providing in-room hard copy information and having to constantly update it.

And because the system is dynamic it can be constantly updated with new offers for hotel guests delivered at the appropriate times of day for things like spa treatments or dining in hotel restaurants.

As well as the hotel industry Jeffreys believes the system would be ideal for the cruise sector and iRiS has been in discussions with at least one cruise operator.

“We are really excited about the opportunities in cruise, particularly when you think about the different things you can do on a cruise ship” said Jefferys.

The next innovation will be an itinerary builder for app users to download on to their smartphones opening up the potential for the system to be of interest to travel agents selling their own packages.

“We are always looking to enhance the application potential. Travellers could use it to access their travel agent who can use it to up-sell or cross-sell and tailor content for them.

“We’d welcome any feedback from the industry about what this technology might be used for.”

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