IBJNews

Hotel app maker to shift HQ accommodations to Indianapolis

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A 30-minute wait at a hotel front desk didn’t leave a great impression with phone app developer Ben Robertson.

The experiences prompted the idea for Yikes, an app that handles check-ins, unlocks doors, adjusts thermostats, and automatically processes an array of other functions at hotels.

app-factbox.gifThe company has approached top hoteliers—Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, ISG and Starwood—about using the app, Robertson said.

The program wasn’t available in app stores as of IBJ’s deadline. Yikes pulled down a previous version and plans to release a next-generation version for iOS this month, Robertson said.

Yikes in coming weeks also expects to announce a contract with a major hotel chain, he said.

The app continuously runs in the background of phones to handle hotel guests’ needs when possible.

For example, people with the app can walk into a hotel and the program will automatically check them in. Or the phone will send alerts when their rooms are ready. Walk up to the room door, and it automatically unlocks without a key card. Walk inside, and the thermostat adjusts to pre-set temperatures.

Robertson was an “avid techster” working for college planning service CollegePlus! when he started Yikes LLC in 2008. The Monticello native launched development just as smartphones were entering the market.

“We saw the tsunami coming,” he said about the now-ubiquitous devices.

Robertson declined to reveal his company’s revenue or the number of hotels he has worked with, acknowledging only that Yikes is in a “handful.” The firm plans to announce a major customer later this month.

A “very large ramp-up” will also happen later this year, including securing some international customers, Robertson said.

A big piece of the ramp-up will involve moving the main office from Dallas—where Robertson now lives—to Indianapolis, where Robertson said he plans to relocate.

The company is hunting for an office downtown, which will house about 10 employees already working in the state, including executives. About 30 more employees will remain in Dallas and Miami.

Yikes is seeking $10 million in debt and equity investments to fuel its growth, according to a January filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company has raised “a very substantial amount of money,” the exact amount of which Robertson would not specify.

Travelers download the app and set up their preferences, based on what services hotels want to automatically enable.

On the business side, the program lets hotels improve their customer service as well as efficiency, Robertson said. Functions like the thermostat controls can reduce energy costs.

Yikes isn’t alone in what it offers.

A bevy of hotel apps let guests order room service, provide entertainment suggestions, or book spa visits—At Your Service, Guest Valet and Virtual Hotel, to name a few.

Hotels themselves have developed similar technology in-house. Starwood and Marriott both have apps that automatically check guests in and out, noted David Bakke, a contributor to financial website Money Crashers who follows the travel app market.

“More and more hotels are developing their own app, with good reason,” Bakke said in an email. “Expedia did a study which said that, of travelers booking hotels last minute, 65 percent make their reservation through a mobile device.”

But Yikes sets itself apart from competing apps, Robertson said, by offering a much wider range of services than just check-ins or door locks.•

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Not home automation... yet
    Focusing on hotel automation is pretty clever. Welcome to Indianapolis!
  • great decision
    Great decision on their part, much cheaper to live, RCI/Wyndham is here along with several major hotel chains, within less than a days driving of most of the population of the US.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am also a "vet" of several Cirque shows and this one left me flat. It didn't have the amount of acrobatic stunts as the others that I have seen. I am still glad that I went to it and look forward to the next one but I put Varekai as my least favorite.

  2. Looking at the two companies - in spite of their relative size to one another -- Ricker's image is (by all accounts) pretty solid and reputable. Their locations are clean, employees are friendly and the products they offer are reasonably priced. By contrast, BP locations are all over the place and their reputation is poor, especially when you consider this is the same "company" whose disastrous oil spill and their response was nothing short of irresponsible should tell you a lot. The fact you also have people who are experienced in franchising saying their system/strategy is flawed is a good indication that another "spill" has occurred and it's the AM-PM/Ricker's customers/company that are having to deal with it.

  3. Daniel Lilly - Glad to hear about your points and miles. Enjoy Wisconsin and Illinois. You don't care one whit about financial discipline, which is why you will blast the "GOP". Classic liberalism.

  4. Isn't the real reason the terrain? The planners under-estimated the undulating terrain, sink holes, karst features, etc. This portion of the route was flawed from the beginning.

  5. You thought no Indy was bad, how's no fans working out for you? THe IRl No direct competition and still no fans. Hey George Family, spend another billion dollars, that will fix it.

ADVERTISEMENT