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For once in my life, I’d like to stay at a hotel were the digital world is a part of the overall experience. I’ve stayed at my fair share of hotels, but few – if any! – manage to get close to what I would expect from a modern hotel for a modern business traveler. If I we’re doing digital PR for a hotel with a budget to match their ambitions – here’s how I’d do it.

photo © 2006 The Inn at Key West | more info (via: Wylio)

1. Complimentary Wifi
Goes without saying these days. How else can I tell my friends about the hotel?

2. Online Booking
Yes, please. But it should be simple. No fuss. Still, please let me decide if I want my towels hanging or placed on the bed. If I want to have certain stuff in my minibar. Let me choose what floor to get off on. Simply put, let me customize how I should find my hotelroom.

3. Online Roomservice
Let me customize my order online. And don’t complain; as a customer, I’m doing your work for you, just like in an internet bank. And let me earn points for doing this stuff myself!

4. 24/7 Online Guide
Maybe I’d like to head out on town for a couple of hours. But what to see? A streaming video call with a hotel tour guide would be awesome. If the tour guide talks to several different guests in different locations at the same time – that’s ok. Maybe some of us gets hungry at the same time, maybe we could have lunch togehter? The tour guide could then set us up.

Oh by the way, should I take a left or right here? What does my GPS position tell you?

5. Online Customer Service
I’ve got some questions about the hotel. Is it ok if  I ask these questions on Facebook, Twitter, or maybe on your own site? Of course it is! They are  happy that I’m interested in the hotel. and it doesn’t matter  where I post my questions – they are aggregated and answered by the hotel anyway.

And also, around this crowdsourced and ever-evolving Q&A database, a small community arises. And some former guests even helps the hotel with answering questions.

6. Computer In The Room
If a hotel should place one versatile, helpful, and effective item in an hotel room, what would it be? A computer, obviously. The Gideon’s are taking care of the Bible, sure, but that’s not helpful to me. An iMac would do the trick, though. And I would love it if this computer came with a portable pad as well, so I can use the hotel’s online services when I’m in other places of the hotel.

Worried that someone will this stuff home? Tag them with RFID chips and make sure the pad is left at the reception when checking out, in order for it to be ready-made for the next guest.

7. Mobile Application
Every respectable hotel should have their own mobile application. The possibilites are endless, especially when it comes to catering to people staying at the hotel regularly. You can pack it with useful services, two-way communications systems, community functions, social gaming, and bonus programs.

8. Skype
The business hotel should really consider Skype. The room could have complimentary Skype headsets and Skype Out credits. It would really make international guests happy, because this means that the hotel is making it easier for them to connect with their friends and families at home. And this warm feeling will power up their feeling towards the hotel brand, of course.

9. LBS (Location Based Services) Discounts
If I use services like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places (even Twitter has this functionality), I think I should be rewarded for telling my friends about the hotel. Or at least acknowledged by being highlighted on the hotel web site, so that I at least can earn more followers. It’s a courtesy thing really, something that hotel used to pay close attention to.

The least the hotel could do is to just say thanks, right?

10. Hotel Chat Room
I can’t get the ice machine in the hallway working. Is the gym any good? If I have only two hours in the city after my conference, where do you suggest I go? I do want answers to these questions, but I ‘d rather have the honest opinions of other guests staying at the hotel. Maybe someone wants to share a cab to the airport and save some money as well as the environment?

Let the hotel guests connect easily with each other. If they are complaining amongst each other, make sure you listen in and make sure you act on the feedback. This will be a powerful loyalty tool, I promise.

11. Digital Picture Frames
Instead of  traditional art on the walls, set up video picture frames instead and lett me choose art for myself. Or if I’m a savvy business individual, I might want to see the news on one screen and pull upp stock quotes on another. Or, maybe the company having a kick-off can arrange for the party images to be streamed to the walls?

Or why not allow for my beloved ones to send me a picture of themselves for the bedside table?

12. User Reviews On The Website
Let’s be brave about this. User reviews are all over the net, and however truthful – they sure give a more honest opinion than a glossy and extremely biased hotel website. Why not let the user reviews in? As well as user-generated pictured? I promise your guests will find these anyway, so please make it easy for them. That’s how you earn trust and reputation, right?

13. Crowd Discounts
If you allow strangers to come together and share their experience by getting better deals, it will strengthen your community. And who knows, maybe your hotel will create friends. Of course they’ll remember where – and thanks to whom – they met.

14. Video Streaming Services
At some hotels, you can choose from maybe a selection of 25 movies – at best. We as hotel guests aren’t satisfied with this anymore. We want to be able to choose from thousands and thousands of movies, tv-shows, and why not – audio books? There are more than one streaming video service allowing for this today.

15. Spotify Terminal
I might want to listen to some music. Make sure the room has a premium Spotify account ready for use. This gives me access to the music I love, and of course – I will love the hotel for it.

16. Online Service Center
Let me book cinema tickets, cab rides, tours, tables at restaurants online. This is a great way for the hotel to create a portal and the service center could easily merge with the online community functions, the screens in the hotel, on the pads, and so forth.

And oh, please make sure that guests can access the service center via large touch screens in the lobby!

What would you like to see in a geek’s dream hotel? Please tell me your take on what hotels should be offering in terms of online services and collaboration these days!

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PR Blogger:

As the author of Doctor Spin, Jerry's passionate about online persuasion and public relations. He runs the agency Spin Factory, the community PR of Sweden, and the e-learning platform Spin Academy. Jerry lives in Stockholm with his wife Lisah and their son, Jack. Click here to subscribe to Jerry's posts!

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