Having newly launched the Navigator Program in 2010, Renaissance Hotels tasked mobile strategist and app developer InnoviMobile to create a mobile solution that would raise the visibility of its nascent but critical program for its target audience, the lifestyle-oriented business traveler.
“The Navigator Program was aimed at what we called ‘the Discoverers,’” said Dan Vinh, Vice President of Global Marketing for Renaissance Hotels at Marriott International. “While they are business travelers, they’re not your typical road warriors who travel so frequently that they’re desensitized to the travel experience. Discoverers are traveling for business but take advantage of their time to see the world, so to speak.”
Renaissance’s Navigator Program served as a modern concierge, offering recommendations for “hidden gems” in markets wherever Renaissance hotels were located. Each hotel employs a team of Navigators, who are experts in their local market. And their local knowledge is captured in a proprietary database of in-market knowledge that transcends the rote listings of online aggregators.
“This was a carefully curated knowledge base and not meant to replace utilities such as Zagat’s or Yelp,” said Mr. Vinh. “We rely on our local Navigator teams to curate places to eat and things to do, but we also tap into media partner knowledge, like UrbanDaddy and Afar Magazine as well as local user-generated intelligence.”
The Navigator database was first made available on the Renaissance website and via mobile web. Given the importance of this information to its guests while traveling, Renaissance decided to add a mobile app to enhance the user experience.
In 2011, InnoviMobile created a mobile app for the Navigator Program, allowing discoverers to find the information that they needed while on the move as well as interact with fellow discoverers.
“InnoviMobile really made the whole mobile experience better,” said Vinh. “They took that knowledge base and gave it legs, enabling users to interact with and freely share that information.”
The app leveraged location-based services inherent in the device, allowing users to see fellow discoverers on a map, providing a real-time barometer of in-market destination popularity.
The app also furnished the user with practical information like directions and restaurant details (credit cards accepted, hours, etc.). The app enabled users to share their location (restaurant, event, show, etc.) with other users as well as across social networks like Facebook and Foursquare.
InnoviMobile quickly and cost-effectively created a native mobile app that efficiently supported an integrated marketing strategy for the Renaissance brand. This helped differentiate the hotel from the competition and provided a means to keep pace with their guest’s nomadic curiosity by recommending new and interesting places and activities.
“We needed to reach the discoverers beyond the confines of the Renaissance properties,” said Vinh. “InnoviMobile allowed us to do that quickly, effectively and within budget.”
The mobile experience and functionality of the app were top-notch, said Vinh. As a result, adoption rates were strong, especially considering that a modest budget that was earmarked for mobile marketing at the time.
“The app accomplished everything we set out to achieve for our Navigator Program,” concluded Vinh.