Made in Greece apps for Hospitality

Two new mobile apps help tourists and hoteliers solve a number of problems, and have expanded their reach far beyond Greece's borders


By Vicky Katehaki

Two Greek students came up with the idea of creating an application to make communication between the hotel desk and guests easier and faster. The idea evolved and now the Tourismart app developed by Magy Kontou and Leonidas Kanellopoulos is being used in more than 400 hotels in 35 countries. The reason it succeeded, the pair tell Kathimerini, is simple.

“We found that errors often crept into communications between hoteliers and visitors from different countries, for reasons ranging from complex booking procedures to missed calls, but we also found that many hoteliers had trouble understanding their customers’ needs,” says Kontou. “With Tourismart, an app for mobiles and tablets, guests have direct access to all hotel services during their stay, such as room service, restaurant reservations, orders, tours guides and so on. For their part, the hoteliers can manage visitors’ requests from their tablets, receive feedback on services, and have access to behavior data regarding the interests and needs of each guest.”

Tourismart is currently available mainly at four- and five-star hotels (all-inclusive and boutique), while, in addition to Greece, the app also has a strong presence in Italy, France and Britain.“These are businesses that offer a lot of services to their guests to provide them with the best possible experience,” says Kanellopoulos, pointing out the advantages for hoteliers. “We have put a lot of thought into the aspect of management and access to statistics for hoteliers. Through our application, they get to know their customers better and have direct contact with them – and increase their own income.”

The two young entrepreneurs plan to continue focusing on tourism and technology. “When we started four years ago the absence of a favorable business climate in Greece worried us, but the technology and tourism industries have great potential worldwide and fortunately are constantly creating new opportunities,” says Kontou.

Zoottle is another made-in-Greece app for making life easier. “Four years ago I was having coffee at a popular cafe chain and was having trouble trying to access their Wi-Fi. I couldn’t understand what the company had to gain by making it so difficult,” says Nektarios Sylligardakis, one of Zoottle’s three co-founders, along with Nikos Hassiotis and Nassos Analogidis. “That’s when I had the idea of creating free Wi-Fi hotspots that would automatically connect the customer to the business’s network, without usernames and passwords.”

Free Wi-Fi platform Zoottle has since grown into a successful commercial product, used mainly in hotels in Greece and the US. “When we started, we reached out to all the markets that offer free Wi-Fi to guests, but today we are focused on hotels,” says Sylligardakis, explaining that Zoottle uses technology that can run a hotel’s app through any browser, offering the establishment significant benefits.

“First of all, they gain access to most users’ e-mail addresses, so they can communicate with them directly, either then or in the future. They also get an idea of whether guests are happy before they leave the hotel – preventing any negative feedback on TripAdvisor! – and finally they can in the future avoid using booking services, which cost more than 10 percent of their revenues,” he adds.

Today, more than 200 hotels from Santorini to the Caribbean use Zoottle and the company has opened new offices in Boston. “Whatever provides solutions to a problem has a future not only in Greece, but also in the rest of the world,” says Sylligardakis. “Now the goal is to expand to large hotel chains.”

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