First cell phone booking engine in 1999
It was 1999… In a time when smartphones did not exist, Nokia was by far the number 1 cell phone provider with some cool devices. The iPhone, iPad and iPod were not around, and the Blackberry still had to start its rise (and fall). It was only 4 years since IHG went live with the first web site guests could book a hotel from (1995), and 3 years after Expedia launched (1996).
Since IHG, a few more hotel brands had build web site allowing guests to book a room from their laptop. While working at MICROS and leading the CRS, loyalty and distribution product development efforts I was brain storming with some bright developers how the future of hotel bookings would evolve. Amongst other great ideas we came with the thought…. “Would it not be great to allow our hotel clients the ability to offer their guests to book a hotel room right from their cel phone?”
Within a few weeks we had a prototype ready, connected to the CRS, it was now possible to book a hotel room anywhere at any given time. The application was simple: book, change or cancel, were 3 numeric selection options, and filling in your reservation details was a bit of a long stretch on a Nokia numeric/alpha key board. When showing it at HITEC (the hospitality’s premier technology conference), our clients were impressed and loved the idea.
The application at the time did not take off, to really make it work…. we need Apple to come up with the iPhone… which wouldn’t appear for another 7 years in June 2007. The vision and idea was the right one, especially when we fast forward to today. There are now numerous mobile booking engines and travel sites that focus entirely on mobile (www.hoteltonight.com). Maybe the functionality at the time was a little to early and advanced for the cell phones of the late 90-ties, but when you do think ahead and strategize what will be next, you will also think about the architecture and products you need to put in place to be able to respond for a long time to new technologies and service requirements.
Thought of the day: When you need to buy new technology, strategize about future needs, ensure you buy and put technology in place to adapt to new service requirements, devices and processes…when the time is right!