EDINBURGH-based Criton Apps has won a best entrepreneur award at a competition for suppliers to the hospitality industry.

Julie Grieve, founder of Criton Apps, was awarded the HOSPACE2017 Best Entrepreneur prize at the annual HOSPACE2017 Conference and Exhibition of HOSPA — the UK’s leading educational organization for hospitality finance, revenue management and IT.

Grieve’s presentation on her company’s self-build guest app service to hotels and serviced apartments won the most delegate votes at the event.

HOSPA Chief Executive Jane Pendlebury said: “Huge congratulations go to Julie Grieve and her company Criton Apps on a superb winning presentation that wowed the HOSPACE2017 ‘Best Entrepreneur’ competition judges by becoming a finalist, and then the HOSPACE audience who had the final say on the winner.”

Julie Grieve said: “I am honoured and delighted to have won this prestigious hospitality industry award, which I hope will be the first of many for Criton Apps.”

Criton Apps is the UK’s first self-build digital concierge for the hospitality market.

It was developed when Grieve was the CEO of a serviced apartment operation.

Frustrated by paper-based guest information books that quickly became out of date, she created a way to transfer this information on to a free customized app.

Offering a self-build guest app service to hotels and serviced apartments, Criton Apps was set up just under a year ago with personal funds and a Scottish Enterprise grant.

The app combines destination guides, guest and property management information. Deals with affiliate technology companies — Loop and Bubbl — also mean that the Criton app’s functionality includes location based offers and promotions, and in-stay or inapp messaging. As an ‘on-device’ technology that can be put in the guest’s pocket, Julie explained it has a far greater advantage over in-room technologies that do not have that mobility or flexibility.

Criton clients include leading Edinburgh locations: The Chester Residence, and serviced apartmentsThe Knight Residence, in addition to hotels and travel destinations in America, Australia, Portugal and Germany. Over the summer, Auchrannie Resort and Crieff Hydro became Criton’s latest big name wins.

Criton recently gained new funds from a private investor to accelerate the company’s growth as it looks to expand overseas. This will allow Criton to boost staff numbers to more than 30 in two years with sales bases at home and abroad identified as a priority for early 2018.

Grieve said: “We have achieved a lot in the first twelve months, both in customer sign-ups and awareness. Our app-builder offers independent hotels a guest facing technology which rivals anything offered by chains such as Hilton and Marriott and we are making an impact.”