I travel a lot. Currently, I allow Priceline to find me a deal. I love good hotels, but I compete on price, because the typical amenities aren’t all that differentiated, so why should I care? I’m thinking a lot about this from the mindset of hoteliers, and also from my interests as a business traveler. I want to run a scenario by you, and see if this makes sense. I’ll make up a hotel name.
Ideas for Hotels and Hospitality
Chris Brogan logs into the M hotel’s profile system. He’s already received his special 16-digit loyalty card. Now, it’s time to express his interests when traveling. Chris prefers:
- No floor preference.
- No view preference.
- No bed preference.
- No allergy preference.
- Thick down pillows.
- Heavy comforter/duvet
- Room at 70 degrees F.
- Lemongrass bath products from Lather.com
- SpaciousPLUS Desk with 6 power outlets and 2 LED lamps.
- No wifi preference.
- Herman Miller Aeron chair.
- Breakfast delivered: oatmeal, fruit, brie, orange juice, pot of black coffee.
- Wall Street Journal.
- Swimming pool and/or exercise ball and dumbbells.
- Late check-out.
- Opt-in for social features: business, arts, dining
- Price range: $129 – $199/night plus expenses.
What if I could show up and all that was just known about me? What if I could just swipe my credit card in a reader at the front desk and it would spit out one key (I only lose one at a time), and flash a room number?
This is so easy, and yet, we’re doing hotels as if it’s 100 years ago. I would skip Priceline if everywhere I traveled, I was guaranteed a room at a consistent rate range that I agreed upon. This means I’d give the money directly to the hotel.
Setting up rooms to meet my needs within their chain would be reasonably easy. In fact, if you look at my requests, I have very few specifics, except for the desk arrangements and the pillow. Hell, I even upsold myself room service.
The next-to-last feature is something I’ve always wanted: when I’m traveling, I want the OPTION to opt into a locality-based social network that allows me to pass an intermediary email address (and maybe distorted room number) out to other guests with shared interests. If it went through the hotel, and if it was noted that all emails and phone calls are stored for security purposes, but not reviewed without a warrant, then it would address most of the privacy issues. Yes?
And Then What?
After this worked out well, I’d want to expand concierge services. I want to have a database to start from and narrow down my potential interests in a city, and then have that last mile be served by a human (because one never knows). Here, I could see the concierge using services like Twitter Search and upcoming.org and Yelp and Google Blog Search to add to whatever’s been officially reported. I can see local venues knowing enough to tweet their upcoming events, and/or to share potential additional offers with visitors.
I want hotels to offer B-cycle for me to just grab a bike and go.
I want a virtual assistant at a rate of $20 USD an hour billed out to me should I have other business needs while staying at the hotel. This person can manage anything from basic laundry and store pickups, to simple business functions like copying, or making reservations, or any of those other services one comes into needing while traveling.
I want a selection of business books dropped off with the option to buy. Why can’t Borders or Barnes & Noble partner with the hotel and tap into the profile database, and let me select great books like Trust Agents for me to read while I’m there ($5/day or billed to your card if not in the room at checkout).
I’ll Stop Here
Any opportunity to be helpful is an opportunity to earn money. I’ll give you some of mine if you make my stay a custom fit. It might not look like a lot when you compare the room rates at a luxury hotel, but if you got this consistently from a whole class of travelers that stopped using discount services, wouldn’t you want to increase that revenue stream?