Holiday Inn launches in-room virtual concierge
InterContinental Hotels Group has implemented a virtual concierge service (called "eHost") for its Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts brand, starting with a 'beta test' programme in fourteen Holiday Inn properties throughout the USA, with full scale implementation expected by the end of 2006.
Accessed via the hotel's free high-speed internet access systems, eHost gives guests 24-hour access to information normally provided by a traditional concierge, including details of local dining options, attractions, movies, shopping, transportation, and events in the immediate vicinity of the hotel where they are staying.
eHost also provides weather and airline information, hotel-specific information, and Holiday Inn brand history, as well as direct e-mail access to the hotel's general manager or staff to provide immediate feedback via an online survey tool. Guests can even play games and send ePostcards home to friends and family through the system.
Developments Hotel staff can also access eHost on behalf of their guests. While traditional concierge services are optional for the Holiday Inn brand, more than 200 US Holiday Inn properties currently offer them, mostly in large metropolitan areas and tourist destinations. InterContinental was quick to confirm that eHost will add to, rather than replace, existing concierge services.
Future plans for the system's development already include multiple languages (Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, French and English) and an online menu and room service module, although several hotels are already offering the menu and room service features ahead of schedule.
The technology The system was developed by Ameranth Wireless Inc., which provides wireless and internet-based solutions for the hospitality, healthcare and financial industries using its proprietary "microsites" technology. It's this platform that allows eHost to function as a single seamless system, despite actually being made up of thousands of individual, customised web portals (one per hotel location). Operationally, a simple back-end web interface allows each Holiday Inn's team to customise their local system appropriately. This continually updated information delivers current and regionally relevant information for the guests.