Luxury hotel chain InterContinental is to trial iPad devices for its concierge staff from next week.
InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, which owns 166 high-end properties, will roll out the devices to trial hotels in four cities as part of a global program. A spokesman for the brand confirmed to Relaxnews that if the trial was successful, the chain will consider rolling the scheme out globally.
Using the devices, hotel staff will be able to provide high-resolution satellite maps, close-up street views and short video clips of local attractions to guests.
Concierges at four of InterContinental's most prestigious locations - the InterContinental New York Barclay, InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, InterContinental London Park Lane and the InterContinental Hong Kong - will be equipped with the devices.
The chain says that the iPad is perfect for common concierge tasks such as providing directions, giving restaurant advice and making reservations for guests, although the scheme has been designed to avoid any change to the positive aspects of traditional concierge services.
"We wanted to make sure the iPads didn't replace the human touch that comes from our Concierge teams, but enhanced their jobs and made it easier for them to deliver better, more enriching and meaningful service," says the spokesman.
The results of the trial are likely to prove exciting for other hotel operators, which are constantly looking for new ways to improve the guest experience. For InterContinental, feedback received from guests and staff will determine whether apps could be developed to provide an enhanced concierge service for guests, with the chain describing the possibilities as "endless."
While InterContinental is the first chain to roll out an iPad trial, other brands have also spotted the value in equipping front line staff with handheld devices. Hyatt brand Andaz, for example, uses "hosts" equipped with handheld computers to check-in guests without the need for a reception desk.
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