Mobile

Mahana helps hotels & casinos keep customers loyal with iBeacons — not key fobs

Image Credit: Mahana
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One way I can confidently say does not improve my loyalty for a business? Adding a key fob thingy to my key chain.

Luckily, new technologies have emerged that don’t require keychain additions — or require me to launch an app on my iPhone to participate in reward programs when I visit my favorite hotels, fly on my preferred airline, or eat at my favorite restaurant.

Case in point: Mahana today launched a business-level platform that use mobile devices and iBeacons to help business owners add a personal touch to their service by identifying the most frequent customers. (IBeacons, by the way, are exactly what they sound like — Bluetooth-enabled beacons that work in conjunction with smartphones and tablets to show where you are and provide information about you in some cases.)

To use it, your favorite hotel needs to be using the Mahana technology, and you need to opt in to it.

Once you do, when you approach the front desk to check in, the hotel concierge will get a smattering of details about you. Some of this information includes your photo ID, name, your preferences (like a hypoallergenic room, extra cot, etc.), and any other notes that might be helpful. Hotel managers will also get a map of where all their guests are within the lobby and shopping areas.

And before you call this out as creepy, remember you have to opt in before Mahana starts working. (See the demo video embedded below for a closer look at Mahana’s platform.)

“Everybody wants to feel special, and to be treated like a VIP. We make it easy and affordable to do mass personalization,” said Mahana cofounder and CEO Bryan Menell.

The best part about Mahana’s tech? You don’t even need to open up your phone, provided it is turned on with location services enabled.

“As a platform now, we enable existing mobile apps to become aware of customer proximity. So the customer would opt-in to a hotel’s loyalty app by downloading it and agreeing to the Terms & Conditions, plus their privacy policy, plus turning their Bluetooth on. It’s like a triple opt-in,” Menell explained to VentureBeat. “Any consumer can opt out of any Bluetooth services by turning their Bluetooth [settings] off.”

Mahana initially started targeting restaurants for its loyalty tracking sevice via a consumer iOS app, as VentureBeat previously reported during the company’s first public demo.

However, the team felt that shifting to a business-to-business model in the travel and hospitality industry seemed like a better option. That’s because this approach allows businesses to decide whether or not to use Mahana’s services and thus, take full advantage of them.

This seems like a smart move. The only times I actually tried to redeem rewards from a business that supported a loyalty service like Belly the employees didn’t know how to ring up the deal. Not only was this a pain in the ass, but I regretted the decision completely after quickly becoming “that freaking guy” holding up the line.

Mahana consists of three different portions: an iBeacon platform for tracking where customers are traveling within the building, the aforementioned proximity display that contains all the information about those customers to employees, and a point-of-sale tracking tech.

The POS integration in particular seems like a very useful tool for business owners to increase profits by catering to loyal customers. Since Mahana connects to the financial information already on file from a business, it can track every time a customer makes a purchase. It even counts how much a customer spends on particular items.

With this kind of information available to all employees of the business, it would be pretty easy to find ways to make those customers more loyal by giving them items they buy frequently, calling them by name when passing through the lobby, and much more.

Menell said one of the biggest opportunities for Mahana to shine can be found when thinking about using it within casinos — an industry that already puts  loyalty and personalization at a premium for their most valuable customers.

Founded in 2013, the Austin, Texas-based startup has raised an undisclosed amount of funding.

2 comments
Richard Bagdonas
Richard Bagdonas

Thank you for the fine coverage and explaining how Mahana increases guest loyalty without having to use fobs, cards, etc.