March 27 2014

BYOD…Why do hotels provide devices when guests have and want to use their own?

I had the benefit of getting an “industry rate” at a high end hotel last week, enabling me to make a guilt-free decision to stay at a much nicer hotel than I normally would book for a business trip. That is definitely one of the benefits of working in this great industry…if the hotel can take care of you, they do!

After checking into my room, I noticed an iPad in the room. My first thought was cool! I fired it up, was able to access lots of great information about the hotel, order services, discover for area information and so on. Later that night, questions started popping up in my mind. After returning to my room, I wondered who was playing that night in the NCAA hoops tournament. I grab the hotel provided tablet only to discover that the web browser was locked down. Hmmm. OK, so I fired up my own iPad and got what I needed.

Later, when it was time to start thinking about bed, I realized that I had forgotten to request extra down pillows…a common request of mine that I almost always forget about until the last minute. No problem…I’ll use the cool hotel provided iPad! Where is it? Oh…on the desk. It wasn’t until I picked it up that I realized that I first had put down my iPhone, walked past the in-room phone (which could have been used) and walked across the room to pick up yet another device. Not a big deal, but hmmm…

OK…bed time. I read almost every night before going to sleep and have moved almost 100% to Kindle on my iPad. Do I miss the tactile experience of holding a real book in my hands and turning real pages? Yes. Do the benefits of ebooks outweigh the disadvantages? For me, the answer is yes. Instead of carrying 2-3 paper books (in case I finish my current book), I carry 10 “yet to be read” books on my iPad. So, as I’m sitting on the edge of my bed, I realize that I have my iPhone, my iPad and the hotel provided iPad all jumbled up next to me. I picked up my iPad…no wait, its the hotel’s iPad. No Kindle App. Again, hmmm. I did order my coffee via the hotel’s iPad though, which was cool.

That is when the clarifying question jumped to mind…why can’t the hotel just put all of their cool content and service enhancing capabilities onto my smartphone or tablet? Where is the benefit of a hotel provided tablet? In my mind, instead of a service amenity, the overall experience with the hotel provided iPad was actually a bit frustrating. What if I’m outside the hotel and don’t have access to the tablet, but I have my iPhone? What if I wanted to request the down pillows before getting to the hotel? Why can’t I use the devices I carry with me at all times, my iPad or smartphone, to access and order hotel services?!

As most readers know, the debate of “provide guests with technology” (in-room entertainment, guest engaging tablets, etc) vs “BYOD (bring your own device)” has been going on for some time now. Southwest Airlines recently released a TV commercial touting the decision to NOT provide video monitors for flyers. Rather, Southwest is providing infrastructure to allow flyers to use their own devices to access and consume video content. Awesome…now we’re talking!

The bottom-line is this…hotel that extend service-enhancing and connecting features onto the guest’s devices will win…providing a far more engaging and effective solution. I know this is something I want. I’m guessing you do too.