Two-year-old Singapore-based start-up ButlerTech is jostling for space in travellers' mobile devices, riding on the popularity of travel apps such as TripAdvisor and Expedia that allow people to book plane tickets and reserve hotel rooms.
ButlerTech, which received a US$2.2 million (S$3 million) shot in the arm last year from an undisclosed investor, differentiates itself by allowing travellers to call for essential hotel services - such as checking in or requesting room service - through their mobile devices. Travellers can also make bookings at spas, tourist attractions and restaurants. This is made possible via its e-concierge-cum-city-guide app ButlerPad.
For example, a tourist in Singapore can use the app to make a reservation at Capricci Italian restaurant, or book tickets for Universal Studios Singapore at Sentosa, without the need to go to multiple websites or make multiple phone calls.
Similarly, a Singaporean travelling to London or Bangkok can use the app to make a booking for the London Eye, or for the famous Thai restaurant, Bo.Lan.
ButlerTech - which has offices in Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Britain - receives a cut from the merchant for each reservation made through ButlerPad, launched four months ago.
Amara Hotels and Resorts, Far East Hospitality, and Park Hotel Group are some of the 35 participating hotels in Singapore. Users have to go to these hotels' websites to download ButlerPad.
Last month, the city guide component of ButlerPad was hived off to a separate app called CityButler.
ButlerTech founder and chief executive Mike Mazza said about 90 per cent of ButlerPad users tap it for its city guide, which highlights only places the company has deemed to be of quality - unlike TripAdvisor.
Doing so cuts out the "information overload" travellers may have when travel apps throw up a list of everything available in a country, said the Englishman.
"It's a recommendation engine, not a search engine," he said. "We employ local people to meet and visit these local businesses, and have recommendations from (the) hotel concierge. The combination provides us with a list of the best things to do and the places to go."
Globally, the company is working with more than 2,000 hotels in cities including London and New York. It is present in Australia, the Philippines and Thailand, and is gearing to expand to more countries such as Malaysia, Italy and Sri Lanka.
Mr Mazza said: "The goal of the business is to just keep growing the city guide, move into new cities, new countries, and to eventually end up with a million users a day using the app."