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Premier Inn drives bookings via cross-platform mobile offerings

Whitbread PLC’s Premier Inn, Britain’s largest budget hotel chain, tapped Fujitsu to launch commerce-enabled applications for various smartphone operating systems.

The applications, which are available on iPhone, Android, Nokia and BlackBerry devices, let customers check room availability, make reservations and manage their bookings. They were developed by Fujitsu in partnership with Grapple Mobile.

“Premier Inn’s strategy behind the launch of the apps is to offer the growing number of travelers who want to interact with the ability to be able to do so on the move,” said Steve Conway, head of marketing and innovation at Premier Inn, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, England.

“We have developed the app to capture the most popular functions: making a booking and reviewing existing bookings as step one on our mobile journey,” he said.

“We also recognize that there are a variety of platforms in the market, with Android growing fast and BlackBerry having a strong business audience, so have worked with partners that enabled us to support all leading smartphone types.”

Premier app
The application, which is free to download, offers real-time availability of all 590 Premier Inn hotels, location-based information and photographs.

Customers can also manage their bookings while on the go.

Premier Inn takes the payment details via the application to reserve the room. Guests are asked to make the actual payment when they check in.

The target demographic of the applications is anyone who stays in a Premier Inn.

“We expect many of the users to be regular business stayers, but in 2010 we saw a marked growth in mobile traffic in July and August, which suggests that leisure guests attracted by our £29 rooms are booking by smartphone too,” Mr. Conway said.

Fujitsu managed the project and provided technical assurance to ensure the successful delivery of the application.

Fujitsu chose Grapple Mobile to develop the application across multiple platforms using the company’s patented platform.

“Grapple provides a specialty in offering a platform that enables our app to be available to users of all major smartphone types,” Mr. Conway said. “Fujitsu worked with them and our IT team to integrate the app with our award-winning Web site and our sophisticated reservations system.

“We will focus initially on promoting the apps to our large number of loyal guests via email, our Web site, our social media fans and followers, plus promotion in-hotel,” he said. “We will then look at other digital media.”

Mr. Conway said that Premier Inn is the first budget hotel chain to produce an application that is available across all smartphones, helping to make the company accessible to as many guests as possible while on the go.

Premier Inn’s goal is to help guests with every aspect of their stay, per Mr. Conway, and the new application is designed to give guests more freedom to make a hotel booking at any given time.

The Premier Inn applications are available for download on iPhone, Android, Nokia and BlackBerry from the Premier Inn Web site or from the Apple App Store and Android Market. They will also be available from Nokia Ovi Store and BlackBerry App World in the near future.

“For any brand or business, like Premier Inn, with a diverse client base it is essential to create apps that are available on all the leading mobile platforms so as to maximize the commercial opportunities and include all current and potential customers,” said Alistair Crane, CEO of Grapple Mobile, London.

“Grapple Mobile provided them with a unique solution to this problem, on time and on budget,” he said. “I have no doubt that many brands both here and in the U.S. will follow suit, the most successful will ensure they cover all the most popular handsets.”

Final Take
Grapple Mobile’s Sean Rosenberg

Grapple Mobile’s Amy Shannon