Boni and Loud Steps application has a place in the Hotels Mag online magazine.
They make an interview with Paul Colgan our Director of Business Development in the United States.
Here the link: http://www.hotelsmag.com/Industry/News/Details/78993?allowguest=true
“An app targeted at the blind and visually impaired guests recently got its first U.S. commercial implementation.
The mobile app, Loud Steps, debuted last month at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chicago – North Shore Conference Center in Skokie, Illinois, a Waterton-owned property. (The property is only the second global commercial installation site for the new Wi-Fi version of Loud Steps, following Turkey’s ICF Antalya Airport in August 2017).
HOTELS caught up with Waterton VP of operations and hospitality John Callan and Boni Global’s Paul Colgan, director of business development and corporate strategy.
HOTELS: Walk us through how the app works from both a technological and operational perspective. And how was the property’s staff trained to interact with those who are blind/visually impaired prior to the launch of the app?
Paul Colgan: The Boni Loud Steps application is an assistive technology that provides accurate micro-location services and step-by-step directions to help iPhone users navigate unfamiliar spaces in a hotel. For example, the app can help walk a user from the registration desk to the elevator and up to their room on their own, without additional assistance from hotel staff. Loud Steps gives blind or low-vision users enough information about their surroundings and path of travel to navigate confidently and independently. It uses a voiceover function to provide information to the user either directly from the phone or through an earbud.
The app also is designed to be used by sighted people, hearing impaired or others needing navigation assistance in a complex environment like a hotel. It has an easy-to-read, high-contrast interface for sighted, low-vision and hearing-impaired users. The voiceover function allows users to hear directional instructions and information about what is around them and the app can provide directional information in different modes, either by simple compass directions or with step-by-step, turn-by-turn directions that announce distances and turns as needed to reach the chosen destination.
There is no need for beacons. Most hotels are well equipped with numerous WiFi access points, giving the app an abundance of radio signals to use for positioning.
H: Why was this a good fit for the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chicago – North Shore Conference Center as the launch property?
John Callan: Waterton and Hilton are constantly working on improving customer service. This is a never-ending mission and involves numerous innovations. But the industry as a whole has fallen short when it comes to products and services for the sight impaired. Loud Steps is a tremendous leap forward in this area, which is why we were eager to introduce it.
H: How much training is required for staff from an operations perspective? How has that process gone thus far?
JC: Hotel staff members have downloaded the app and used it to familiarize themselves with the technology. They also had formal training with subject matter experts – actual sight-impaired instructors who, through their own experience, understand what it’s like to be a blind or low-vision hotel guest.
H: What’s the ROI for the property to use the app?
JC: At this early stage of implementation, the technology is more about improving the guest experience for our sight-impaired hotel guests and meeting attendees. ROI always follows when we take outstanding care of our customers.
H: iPhone users can currently download the app: is there also a version available for Android users?
PC: A new Android operating system is due out later in 2018 that will upgrade the ability of Android phones to utilize indoor positioning technology. Boni Loud Steps will take advantage of this upgrade to provide an Android version at that time. The iOS version was first because of two key factors: the Apple Core Location technology, but also because accessibility features of iOS devices are the first choice of nearly 90% of blind and low-vision people in the United States, according to our surveys.”*
*All rights belong to the Hotels Mag.