Virgin Hotels, the lifestyle hotel arm of Virgin Group, has introduced Lucy, a mobile app that allows guests to integrate their device into their hotel experience.
Lucy will give users a seamless and customised stay by transforming their digital ecosystem into a personal hotel assistant by fulfilling requests for services and amenities, functioning as the room thermostat, streaming personal content and more.
Doug Carrillo, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Virgin Hotels, explains: “Our mobile app Lucy, will put guests in the captain’s chair. The technology will be smart and intuitive, and light the way to a more immersive experience within the hotel. We can’t wait to build upon the platform as the brand and our guests’ needs grow.”
The move comes as research shows that travellers – whether for business or leisure – are increasingly reliant on their mobiles before, during and after travelling. Research by social network BuzzCity finds that 1 in 4 travellers use their mobiles to book (28%) or pay (24%) for their daily commute; double the figure from 2013. Also notable is the increase ( 50%) in mobile use across business and leisure travellers; 30% rely purely on their mobiles to make last minute bookings, making it the most preferred device for ticket or room bookings.
While 1 in 5 ( 21%) travellers choose to remain ‘unconnected’ during their holidays, more than a third (40%) say that their phone is the most used recreational device for passing the time, to stay in touch with friends and family (29%) and keeping up with work (22%) while away from home. Mobile is also a key tool for research and getting around, with 1 in 5 (24%) using their phones to find out about local tourist information, restaurants and attractions.
“Multi-channel surfing has resulted in higher demand for access among travellers and meeting this demand may yet be business critical for airports, hotels and public transport services”, Dr KF Lai, founder and CEO at BuzzCity says. “Free Wifi is no longer a perk and more hotels will see this as a game changing move for their businesses”
And this is the gap Virgin’s app is looking to fill and the USP Virgin is looking for for its hotel brand. The company believes that Lucy will put many aspects of the hotel experience at guests’ fingertips, before during and after their stay.
So what can the app do? According to Virgin its functions currently include:
• The ability to make room reservations and check-in
• Adjust room climate within the Chamber
• Stream personal content onto guest Chamber televisions
• Video and Audio on Demand curated by Virgin
• Transform a guest’s smart phone into the TV remote
• Serve as the Chamber phone to reach concierge, front desk or dining outlets
• Live chat with staff or other guests via the hotel’s chat room and message center
• Request services such as in-room dining, housekeeping or additional pillows while in the hotel or about
• Make dining reservations at the hotels venues
• Step Outside section with recommendations from the local staff
• Review folio
The mobile app will also be linked to the recently announced Virgin Hotels preference programme, The Know. By completing The Know questionnaire and using Lucy, guests can request their preferences including what items they want to find (and not find!) in their mini bar.
Lucy is free and can be downloaded by visiting virginhotels.com, the App Store or Google Play (tablet app coming soon).
Virgin Hotels’ first property will open in Chicago on January 15, 2015, with Nashville following in 2016 and New York in 2017. Virgin Hotels continues to explore properties in cities such as Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington DC, and London; locations where it is pursuing hotel and office conversions and ground-up development, says the company.