a hotel lobby

Hotel-based Mobile Device

I was listening to the Bloomberg Best radio show and they were discussing a new product that has just been introduced for the hotel industry. It is a mobile device that would be available in all guest rooms for the free use of hotel guests as part of their stay.

The basic idea behind the device is to serve three purposes. First, some travelers can’t use their personal devices because of expensive roaming charges or lack of connectivity. From my experience, this would be mostly relevant for international travel.

Second, the device would be optimized for the hotel experience. Just like current hotel phones, it would have hotkey links to the hotel operator, concierge, room service, and other hotel services and an automated recognition system so the hotel service provider immediately knows who you are when they pick up the phone. If they have a good profile of a guest, they could provide faster and more customized service.

Third, it would be optimized for the visitor experience in the hotel’s neighborhood. So instead of using Yelp for restaurant reviews, it would have a version that knows you are staying at the hotel and new to the area and the user experience would be tuned to that scenario. I haven’t seen the UI, so I don’t know exactly what this tuning is, but I guess I can imagine a few tweaks that could add some value.

But my question today is whether this is really enough value to warrant a mobile device that doesn’t have all of the personalization and customization that you own device would have. Which is better, a device that has a hotlink to room service or one that has all of your apps, address book, file storage, etc. but forces you to call the hotel to order room service and input your current location to get restaurant recommendations?

The story was not complete, so there may be other functions that it didn’t get to. Can you think of a set of services and features that a hotel-based mobile device could have that would make this a worthwhile investment?

I would love to hear your ideas. Please share them in the comments.

Image credit: “Lobby Hotel Bristol w Warszawie” by Adrian Grycuk used under CC BY-SA 3.0 PL

2 thoughts on “Hotel-based Mobile Device”

  1. I am not excited about this. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t invest in an app for the chain. You can even have one app, white-labeled for multiple chains, with all the similar functions. The cost savings of NOT having to supply hardware alone, would take care of the cost of development. Alternatively, why not a site?
    None of this makes sense to me from usability or economic standpoints.

  2. I was wondering about this too. I would have to see the hardware to decide if it adds any value. I think because of the international target market, it is focused on providing guests with connectivity when their own device doesn’t work. That is why an app would not work.

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