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“There’s an App for that” Cellphone Hotel Room Key — A Good Idea, Ten Years Late

by Benoit Lheureux  |  December 22, 2009  |  Comments Off on “There’s an App for that” Cellphone Hotel Room Key — A Good Idea, Ten Years Late

There’s an App for that — your iPhone is your Hotel Room Key.

I’m sure to be of the minority opinion not overwhelmingly impressed with the “convenience” aspect of using my iPhone as a hotel room key [and boarding pass, et al]. I mean, after all, it really *is* such a bother to keep track — and learn to use — those horrid hotel key-cards you know. But regardless, I’ll likely use the iPhone App like others for this purpose at some point. But let me convey a personal story to underscore why the real story here is NOT about the underlying technology but what my colleague Brian Prentice says is “focus should be on the underlying process” — a theme I’ve written about before.

Over ten years ago I worked for NCR and did a lot of business in New Jersey (we were owned by AT&T at the time). Things were such logistically that I used to fly late into NJ and stay at the Newark Airport Marriott prior to my travel throughout the state. Some of you may know of this hotel, and seasoned travelers may rightfully ask “why” I bothered to stay there, since its rather utilitarian and not in a particularly lovely location.

One thing that I liked about the hotel at the time was a feature that I’ve yet to see repeated by any other hotel since. As you approached the entrance to the hotel a desk clerk would be standing out front, next to a rack of small folders. As you walked up he/she would greet you a “Hello” and ask “my I have your name, Sir?”. After giving your name and showing an ID, the clerk would reach over, flip through the folders, and draw the one prepared in advance with my name – and an enclosed key – and hand it to me, saying “Welcome, Mr. Lheureux, enjoy your stay”. At which point I’d waltz directly into the bar, order a drink and my dinner. Nice.

Why, for the life of me, has no other hotel I’ve ever been to since also do this???  I couldn’t explain that if my life depended on it. But more importantly, perhaps, yes, if because someone is so utterly smitten by the beauty of the iPhone [hammer] and looking for an “App for that” [nail] and they come up with the brilliant “new” idea of speeding up my hotel room check-in then of course that’s all fine and good. But PLEASE don’t tell me this is new. An otherwise unremarkable hotel stuck in the middle of the airport traffic loop at Newark Airport differentiated itself over ten years ago by smoothing my hotel check-in – SHOCK – w/o using an iPhone!

It’s the process that matters

– bjl


Benoit J. Lheureux
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
31 years IT industry

Benoit Lheureux is a research VP in Gartner Research and agenda manager for the Application Infrastructure group. He focuses on three areas: application integration, middleware and B2B e-commerce, with the emphasis on the latter. Read Full Bio

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