Increasingly interactive apps raise the stakes in start-up innovation

With mobile apps becoming the predominant innovation pool and testing ground for ideas today, new start-ups in the field are increasingly pushing the interactivity levels between users, designers and service providers. The app is moving from being an informative or visual tool to becoming a personal ‘assisstant’ to everyday life. Businesses able to make this leap in consumers’ minds are typically already talking to business transfer agents in anticipation of a sizable exit. Fashion and travel are two especially dynamic segments seeing highly evolved apps transforming the way consumers interact with their smartphones.

Fashion apps offer a community spirit of style advice

New app, Okay Fashion, with 50,000+ users, and available in 62 countries to date, enables users to pick and become ‘fashion advisors’ and tap into the fashion collective to help them with style dilemmas – with a strap line of “It’s okay to ask”. This app lets users post pictures alongside outfit queries, letting fashion advisors they’ve previously chosen according to their profiles, give them a verdict.  Minutes after posting a style query related to an outfit, users can get a percentage of users who like it. The app’s ad on YouTube shows a number of stylish young people helping similar peers out.

Some style advisors have high profiles. In France, for example, where the app was first launched, Okay have selected 20 top fashion bloggers and influencers and will steer users in their direction. Users also have the option of categorizing their advisors into different sections; so for a trip to New York, you can call upon advisors from the city. Celebrity fans include actress Diane Kruger. Founder and CEO Gerard Sillam, says the concept builds on Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of ‘collective intelligence’. “We have decided to accomplish right now what Mark Zuckerberg has described as the future of the social networks in the next 5 to 10 years – a direct access to the collective intelligence which enables the users to take decisions,” he explains.

Travel apps become real-time deal companions

A new generation of useful, more dynamic apps for use by hotel guests is giving visitors the motivation to download them, reports the New York Times. Among those offering financial incentives, which travellers are most receptive to, is James Hotels, operating in Chicago, Miami and New York. This group is, launching a new app feature that sends push notifications of in-hotel deals. So, for instance, when a guest walks past a spa, they receive details of 10% of spa services; walking past a dining area sends a message about a two-for-one appetizer deal in the hotels’ restaurants.

Others apps offer convenience. In August 2014, Hyatt Hotels‘ mobile app added an Uber button that will appear for the duration of a stay, allowing travellers to make car reservations using the hotel as their default pickup place.

Instead of a guidebook, a new concierge app called Keys2TheCity from the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago features city walking tours, recommended restaurants and attractions, and transport information. The Nines in Portland, Ore., directs room service orders through its app and updates information on events happening throughout the city. In Mexico, Rosewood Mayakoba’s new app, which allows guests to request a spa appointment or restaurant reservation without leaving their pool chairs, illustrates this trend: Since the app launched in May 2014, spa bookings have received a 25% boost.



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