Jump to content

Recommended Posts

It was in the early days of Apple iPhone applications that Joel Yaffe conceived the idea to offer smartphone services for hotels.


Now, with thousands of entrepreneurs rushing to cash in on the application gold mine for iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android devices, four Montrealers behind mConcierge are comfortably ahead of their competition -except they don't seem to have any just yet.


"We're the only full-service concierge system for hotels," said Yaffe, 39, from the company's modest ground-floor office (just four desks and a common eating area) on St. Laurent Blvd., just north of Mount Royal Ave.


Yaffe came up with the concept two years ago when working at the Apple service centre. He figured hotels might need laptops for their guests. Through discussions with childhood friend Marco De Stefani, 41, and another friend, Mihai Frimu, 41, mConcierge was born.


The product works as either an iPhone or BlackBerry application, or through a phone's mobile Web browser. It allows guests to check in and check out, request the valet to bring the car, order room service, get restaurant recommendations and make reservations, and get a city guide customized by the hotel. Guests also can order a multitude of services, such as spa treatments. Future applications of the software will allow guests to open their hotel rooms with their phones.


"We're not replacing the concierge, we're replacing the directory that's in the hotel room," Anthony said. "We're empowering the concierge so that it's more efficient."


The mConcierge application isn't a cookie-cutter service. The team works with each hotel to decide which restaurants will be recommended, which services will be provided, and how to integrate the application with the hotel's systems.


The company's first application was launched a year ago for a temporary residence in Miami that desperately needed some sort of concierge services for guests.


"It had no front desk or on-site concierge," Yaffe said. "The owner promoted it on MTV and in Vogue magazine, and we were going to do a party together, but then he ran out of money and lost his residence."


Despite that initial failure, mConcierge caught on quickly in the last year. The company now has 24 hotel clients and seems to be gaining new customers almost weekly. It has also attracted venture funding from Montreal Startup, Palos Management and Positron.


John Stokes, founding partner of Montreal Startup, said he was impressed with the company's attention to detail.


"They showed the product increased the guest satisfaction rate and the revenue that hotels can get for guest services, and they are able to measure everything," Stokes said. "The ability to measure and track services also helps the hotels use the information to improve their services."


Currently, the company is targeting boutique hotels, which have more affluent guests who are likely to have smartphones. Only about 10 to 15 per cent of Canadians own a smartphone whereas, in the U.S., about one-third of the population has a smartphone.


"The people who are pushing things to the market are the high-end boutiques, because they're the ones with the budgets," De Stefani said. "But we're hoping that, within a year or so, it will trickle down to the Motel 8s, and others will come on board."


That being said, many hotels signed by the company are based in Montreal. Zebrowski-Rubin says about 60 per cent of the company's clients are Canadian hotels, while about 40 per cent are American.


The company counts as clients the Marriott Springhill Suites in Old Montreal, and the Antonopoulos Group, which owns Place d'Armes Hotel and Suites, Hotel Nelligan, Auberge du Vieux Port and Le Petit Hotel, all located in Old Montreal. They also have signed the Soho Grand Hotel and Tribeca Grand Hotel in New York City.


Yaffe said he knows the company will have its hands full catering to hotels in the coming years, but he sees other uses for the technology down the line.


(Courtesy of The Montreal Gazette)


Good to see we have some talent left in this city :goodvibes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...