By Don Douloff
TORONTO — Mobile technology company Zonetail Inc. and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Inc. (AAHOA) are launching a single, one-app platform, named Zonetail, that will feature AAHOA’s 15,000 hotel members along with Zonetail’s other hotel clients worldwide, it was announced in mid-May.
Set to launch in fall, the platform updates version one of the company’s app (launched in late 2013/early 2014 in Canada and the Caribbean) and will connect hotel guests to the amenities and services of their hotel through their mobile device, and offers hotels new service options to increase revenues and customer engagement. Guests can select their hotel destination and the app will “reskin” (tailor the content) to provide information and connectivity to any Zonetail-supported hotel worldwide. All local area information on attractions, events, dining and shopping will be provided.
“Our agreement with AAHOA is a major milestone for Zonetail in its efforts to substantially expand our hotel client base in North America,” said Mark Holmes, president and CEO of the Toronto-based company. “We are thrilled to partner with such an influential and prestigious voice in the hotel industry and to work with its members. This agreement puts Zonetail on a different playing field.”
Founded in 1989, AAHOA is the largest hotel owners association in the world, with over 15,000 members. AAHOA members own more than 25,000 hotels, amounting to about 50 per cent of all properties in the U.S.
Holmes added that the app features “bells and whistles,” such as the ability to connect hotel guests with local businesses and other travellers. Zonetail will build everything to brand standards and will work closely with hotels to ensure the content meets their needs. Hotels will administer the content themselves through the app’s management system.
Moreover, the app will, via deep linking, drive direct bookings, at zero per cent commission. “This becomes another tool to assist brands in their battle against OTAs (online travel agencies),” said Holmes.
Zonetail generates revenue by charging area businesses an annual fee to be included in the app’s content offering. Hotels pay nothing for the app and receive money through a revenue-sharing arrangement with Zonetail.
Detailed analytics, provided by Zonetail, will provide hotel partners with a comprehensive profile of guests’ activities (restaurants, stores and attractions visited, for example) once they leave the hotel, during their stay — information that properties can then use in their marketing activities, said Holmes.
In tandem with the AAHOA partnership, Zonetail invited the association’s president and CEO Chip Rogers to sit on its board of directors. “He will be an invaluable partner as Zonetail continues to provide services to the rapidly evolving hotel market,” noted Holmes.
Peering into his crystal ball, Holmes said he is aiming to “start expanding our global reach” by looking for strategic partnerships in the U.S. and abroad, and to that end, is engaged in various stages of negotiations with parties in India, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil. Also on Zonetail’s radar is expanding its presence in Canada by approaching domestic associations, brands and hospitality companies.