GuestU – the Portuguese startup that’s revolutionising the hotel guest experience

 In News

A Portuguese startup which provides hotel guests with tips and advice on how to make the best of their stay in Portugal and overseas was the winner in the Startup category for this year’s Publituris Portugal Trade Awards 2020.

Since GuestU was founded in 2014 it has put customised ‘concierge’ smartphones in thousands of hotel rooms in Portugal and around the world.
The smartphone and app enables guests to book any service that a city break visitor might want such as transport, restaurants tables and tours with the aim of enhancing the tourist’s trip.
This smart phone is also provides an essential service in the hotel itself. It allows gists to call room service, book a session at the spa while the GuestU virtual butler allows the guest to control the lighting and air-conditioning in their room and even acts as a remote control for the TV.

The genesis of GuestU in 2013 lay in an application created by a tourist entertainment company that provided interactive tour guides for events and excursions. Still in the development phase, they reached the conclusion that there was a huge opportunity for the hotel market which was looking for new solutions to improve guest interactions and experiences.
The innovation was linked to the competition Lisbon Big Apps organised by Vodafone with the support of Lisbon City Council which resulted in an award of €20,000 and integration into a startup incubator programme.
“Our goal was to digitally connect the hotel guests with the hotel and the local ecosystem,” explained CEO Euclides Major in interviews at the time. The use of the phone is absolutely free in terms of internet and calls and allows guests to access a range of personalised recommendations on what they can do in the city they are visiting,” he had said.
The founder said that while this might not be the future of tourism, it is “certainly another form of innovative technology to improve the tourist experience of both the hotel and the city they are visiting”.
Later, in 2018, it received two rounds of development and growth funding from Portugal Ventures and other private investors until it was acquired by Nonius, a company that focuses on the hotel sector, which “cleared the path for us to consolidate and grow the project in a sustainable way” says Manuel Lima, GuestU director.
“Today our App has become a great application for hotels, even offering guests the ability to open the door of their rooms from their phone, direct room to reception communication and city and what’s on guides. The app is 100% integrated with PMS, CRS and CRM and can also be integrated with hotel loyalty programmes,” explains Manuel Lima.
Today GuestU boast big names in the hotels world with over 250 clients either using the Super App or the Phone including Pestana Group, Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, Sonae Hotels, StayWell Group, Enotel Hotels & Resorts as well as boutique hotels such as Valverde, Avenida Palace, Fortaleza do Guincho, AlmaLusa, among others.
Normally, to get the app or phone the hotel invites its repeat or new guests to join its loyalty programme and install the app which gives them benefits for new bookings and stays. Also when guests make their bookings information is sent to them about the benefits of having the application.
“In the case of the GuestU Phone, this smartphone is supplied by the hotel for the duration of stay and is placed in the room for use both inside and outside the hotel and has all the features of the Super App with free calls and internet,” says Manuel Lima.

Looking to the future
Manuel Lima says he wants to expand GuestU’s presence in the international market while reinforcing its position in Portugal “taking our products to a greater number of hotels.”
“Our goal is to improve the relationship between guests and the hotel during their stay, increasing their overall satisfaction through our products GuestU Phone and GuestU App. We are also working to up staff productivity through task automisation so that we can focus on what’s really important: offering our guests a memorable experience,” he concludes.