SOURCE: Zonetail


April 16, 2015 08:00 ET

Zonetail's Anchored Local Approach -- The Mobile Solution That Connects Guests to Their Hotel and Surroundings

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - Apr 16, 2015) -

  • Solving hotel guest's local search problems.
  • Local advertising that's an essential part of the guest experience.
  • The reinvention of the mobile ad, including a content management system that allows advertisers to change their message instantly.

Introducing Zonetail, the first mobile platform that is at once a local information resource, an advertising medium, and content publisher. Zonetail's unique "anchored local" environment has been developed for the hotel industry to provide a better guest experience. Zonetail connects guests to their hotel's services and amenities as well as providing contextually relevant, targeted information on the attractions, restaurants, and merchants in the area surrounding their hotel.

Every traveler knows that when you check into a hotel, you just want to unwind at a local bar, grab a quick bite to eat, or buy the underwear you forgot to pack, without the hassles. Traditionally, the only way to do that involved asking somebody at the front desk or the concierge for directions, which typically isn't the quickest or most enjoyable thing to do. Especially if you just got off a long flight.

Mobile apps offering local search haven't solved the problem either. For example, Yelp and Trip Advisor provide unstructured general information, but scrolling through pages and pages is a major inconvenience when all you want is coffee shop close by. "Ninety percent of the data that we have has been created in the last two years and eighty-five percent of it is unstructured data," says Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of Kayak.

A story that perhaps best describes the frustration with local search was told in a Skift Travel Trends Report, 'The Future of Personalized Marketing in Travel,' published in the fall of 2014: "On a trip to Chicago recently, Microsoft's Bailey grabbed his mobile and searched for a restaurant near his hotel. Hundreds of results surfaced in no particular order. Stumped, he returned to the hotel and showed the phone to the concierge, asked for his help in finding a good spot for solo diners, and was given an option a few minutes away. 'Try standing in the middle of Times Square and you get 1,000 restaurants on Yelp or Trip Advisor. That's not helpful,' he says. 'If you look at the questions I was asking, it was simple logic. The search tools I don't think have that yet.' "

Not surprisingly, Jason Spero, head of performance media at Google, says, "We recently conducted a study and found that 4 out of 5 consumers want search ads to be customized to their city, zip code, or immediate surroundings. This is a big opportunity for business to provide their customers with genuinely useful information, at the moment it matters."

Useful, and timely information at the mobile moment improves the user experience, especially if the user is a guest at a hotel in a strange city.

In 2014, a digital customer experience agency, MCD, published a report on the hotel guest, titled, 'Seeing Returns.' Their findings? 80% of travelers want to easily see hotel amenities and hours. 78% want to engage with maps of the areas they visit. And 68% want to see concierge tips about the places to visit. Overall, guests prefer direct access to this information via mobile.

Although none of the above is surprising to the traveler, what is surprising is little has been done to improve the hotel guest's mobile experience, until now.

When the founders of Zonetail were thinking about their mobile platform, the first thing they wanted was an app that easily allows guests to interact with hotel services, and amenities wherever they are and when they want. As well, they wanted to allow hotels to fully customize, update or change their content instantly. However, while testing a prototype with users they found they were overlooking an important need. As Mark Holmes, the President of Zonetail says, "Guests like being able to interact with the hotel on their mobile phones, but that's not all they want. People don't just check into a hotel, they check into the neighborhood. They want to know what's around." With that insight, they worked on adding a 'Shop, dine, explore' section, populated with information, attractions, and advertising from the local neighborhood.

To add to that, they didn't want the ads to be an interruption like typical mobile ads, so they separated the section from the hotel information, offering local advertiser two full screens of information, and allowing users to toggle between the hotel and neighborhood information. "We wanted the ads to be essential to the guest experience," says Mark. In thinking even further, Zonetail needed to go beyond local, making the ads contextually relevant. "So we created a mobile ad content management system that allows advertisers to not only target guests by hotel, but change their ad creative instantly, and just as easily as changing or editing a Facebook post." That means, for example, if you're advertising a local restaurant you can change your ad message at breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner if you want. You can create a message around happening events, occasions, anything relevant and timely.

Jennifer Wise, of Forrester Research says, "The thinking has been that mobile is digital, desktop is digital, so let's translate. But mobile devices are completely different, because mobile users are task-oriented, trying to get something done."

"Zonetail is attempting to lead in this area, there's definitely room for a better mobile hotel guest experience," Mark Holmes says. Forrester Research appears to agree with him. According to their 'Mobile Advertising: It's Time to Get Personal' report, they recommend that advertisers reinvent their craft if they hope to do more than annoy mobile users.

Finally, in differentiating itself from other mobile apps offering local information, Zonetail coined the term, "anchored local," to better describe their user experience. With a BIA/Kelsey forecast predicting that local media's digital advertising revenue is expected to grow to $158.6 billion by 2018, perhaps it's a term we'll be hearing more often.

About Zonetail

Founded in 2013, Zonetail is an anchored local mobile content engine that connects users with their location and surroundings. It saves time, and makes locations more familiar, social, and rewarding.

More than a mobile application, our technology platform is a cloud-based content management system and analytics suite.

Zonetail was launched with a focus on the hotel vertical, and the platform is offered free to hotels. However, the Zonetail platform can be applied anywhere people live, stay, work, or congregate.

For more information visit or email Mark Holmes.

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