IT IS hailed as providing the means for hoteliers to gather “precious” feedback on travellers’ experiences while they are still there and then encourages parting guests to leave comments on key review sites.

Edinburgh-based hospitality app firm Criton’s link-up with GuestRevu is claimed to give hoteliers ranging from boutique owners to growing firms a similar kind of brand-based app for guests as some of the world’s biggest chains.

It allows visitors to provide instant feedback and “guest intelligence” to which hoteliers can respond, before, during and after the stay.

Visitors have the option to leave reviews on TripAdvisor straight from a survey, without the need to log in or create an account, and are invited to leave a Google review.

Julie Grieve, founder and chief executive of Criton, which claims to be the UK’s first intuitive app builder for the hospitality and tourism sector, said she is spearheading an expansion push at the firm which has seen staff numbers grow from six to 35 in two years, and a £5 million cash boost from an anonymous investor.

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The firm, which was set up by Ms Grieve, the former chief executive of serviced apartments business Lateral City, in 2016, also now has an office in London and is aiming for a £500,000 turnover by next year with a client base of 400.

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Ms Grieve, above, said: “Technology should be about hitting the pain points and making them better.

“The hotel industry are looking at how they can create operational efficiencies, and that is generally with technology, like a digital key, ordering, all that sort of thing.

“But from a guest’s perspective, we were throwing multiple communications channels at them, and we were saying ‘we have digital key, download this app, or we’ve got online ordering with this app, if you want to check in online, here’s an app for that’.

“You get in your room and you can control the TV through another app, and the guest don’t use it all.

“We have this platform that brings any guest-facing technology that is cloud-based into an app builder and the hotel can fully brand it, so rather than having four apps that are not hotel-branded, they have one that is for their hotel, and anything the guests interact with is in there.

“From the guest’s perspective it is easy. You download the app, you don’t have to stand in a queue, you can go straight to the room, which means people that want to interact don’t have to wait in a long queue, and from the hotel’s perspective, they invested in [separate] technology and then they don’t get guest engagement, which is frustrating, so it is helping them drive operational efficiency whilst giving their guests a better experience.”

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She said integrating GuestRevu, which has bases in London and South Africa, is “another drive for personalisation”.

“We are helping hotels get more reviews from their guests, and this generation trusts peer reviews way more than they trust anything that comes out of a marketing team.

“It is encouraging them to write a review and giving them the chance to feed back because as a hotelier you want both, you want to know what they are thinking so you can improve but you also want them to leave a review that they are happy.”

She said: “At a time when hoteliers need both practical and measurable innovations, our integration with GuestRevu enables hotels and serviced apartments to gather essential guest feedback.

“As well as allowing hoteliers to collect precious feedback in a quick and timely way, the integration of GuestRevu with Criton’s app-builder links the feedback forms directly to TripAdvisor and encourages guests to leave a Google review.

“All vital for online reputation and ranking.

“Boutique hotels and hoteliers who are looking at growth, wanting to add to their portfolio, why would you not put technology in?

“It should let you do the same with less staff or do more with the same amount of staff.”

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Having often used hotels frequently through business, Ms Grieve said: “I felt that with the cost and technology, the industry was not being served well by a lot of its vendors.

“The idea built from there. I had always wanted to start my own business but was not really interested in running a lifestyle business. I wanted to scale something.

“This I felt was very scalable and so my husband and I started chatting and I think in the main we thought, ‘fine we are going to do it’.

“We had bought a house in Edinburgh about three years before then, and the market was a bit funny, so we thought would we take a hit, but we needed to sell the house to get the money to start the business. So we just took one step at a time, then, the house sold, we did fine through it and that was it, we were on a track.”

She added: “It is surreal. I’m between feeling like the luckiest person in the world because how do you get yourself in a position where you are fortunate enough to follow a dream?

“Growing the team has been amazing. All the skills that I’ve learned throughout all of my career, I’m calling on day in day out. That’s great. Then at other times the little devil on your shoulder is going ‘what the hell, what made you take on a technology business you crazy woman’.”

Either way, the US and China are now target markets, she says.

“We have multiple different types of products coming out in terms of different segments we can work with. For example we are about to launch a tour operator product into the market and that is obviously a big market.

“Hospitality is an exciting industry to be in just now and also one that is desperately requiring the efficiencies that technology can bring so we want to be agile around that.

“It [the tech] has always been something I wanted to introduce across the world and I think we have got a really good opportunity to do that.”