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The iPad Is Coming to a Hotel Near You
(part two)


by Terence Ronson, March 1, 2010 - 

Since Apple has at last finished with a great fanfare the countdown to the sale of the 10 billionth song on iTunes, the next exciting task for their illustrious countdown clock has to be launch day of the iPad – purportedly, just weeks away.

I first wrote about the iPad on Press day, and subsequent to that, visionaries, developers and businesses alike are without doubt frantically rushing to think up and develop apps at a similar pace to that of the rising of the US National debt clock. Difference being, one is good for the economy and the other, well – we’ll leave that to the financial pundits to pontificate over.

Amongst the 140,000+ apps out there, there is a slew of Travel and Hospitality related apps developed for the iPhone, which in theory (according to Steve Jobs) should without much trouble port over to the iPad. As end users, we have no choice but to hold in anticipation Steve’s promise, by taking a wait and see attitude as to how well (or badly) that works.

To-date, in our space (the hospitality industry), I have not seen a great deal of creativity for apps. For the most part, Hotels and Hotel groups have used them as gateways to their booking engines, possibly trying to steer prospective customers away from 3rd party engines with in-house promises of best rate guarantees. 

Future enhancements are likely to include the ability to customize a stay via a selection of pull-down preferences which is all well and good, but I have to ask myself is the back-end infrastructure in place to handle this? Not only do you need the systems and interfaces to channel these eRequests, but you also need the people to handle them and the potential volume. Perhaps the most complex component is the buy-in of management and owners, which is critical in order to secure the funding of this somewhat embryonic platform.

A few apps have however caught my eye as being interesting and useful to the guest, which in turn could be the catalyst in enhancing the CRM potential between hotel and customer. After all, that’s what its’ all about isn’t it? Some have helped the guest with speaking language cards such as Langham Hotels, and the Accor app auto populates your address book with the full contact details of the hotel. Kudos to these guys for good integration with the technology.

The creators of these apps have not just had “how can we monetize this idea” on their brain when brainstorming and eventually the app, they’ve carefully considered the enhancement of guest service. In my book that is a great thing. They’ve taken the technology and smartly used it as a brand extension rather than putting a salesperson on the screen of the user, trying to nickel and dime their way to increased sales. 

But take those unimaginative apps, perhaps even those what some may call version one’s, and if that is what your app is trying to do now on a screen the size of an iPhone – how will it look and be reacted to when measured by a factor of six when shown on the screen of an iPad.

Come on – lets be creative on what we do with this fabulous piece of real estate…

Oh yes, you may also want to think about Blackberry users! Not everyone has an iPhone…


Terence Ronson

Also See: The iPad is Coming to a Hotel Near You! / Terrence Ronsen / January 2010

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