Imagine making a hotel reservation, arriving for check in and finding that the hotel knows nearly everything about you: your facebook info, your trip advisor reviews, your birthday, your favorite sports team, your anniversary, your favorite drink.... its endless. You could call this an educated conspiracy theory but I believe that many of these things are not far off in the near future...
Many interesting technologies are already being integrated into the hotel experience and there are more to come. At certain hotels you can now use your phone to select a room, open your door and order room service! But what about before you arrive? Despite these innovative upgrades, I was most intrigued this year when "TripAdvisor+Amex" launched. Essentially you sync your American Express Card to TripAdvisor and it knows where you've been based off of purchases and sends you emails encouraging you to review your past jaunts. For now, this seems to be a great way to encourage and validate TripAdvisor reviews but in my opinion its greatest or most controversial use is still to come. This technology is the gateway to embedding information into every consumer relationship.
If TripAdvisor knows where I've been based on my purchases what's to stop that information and more being shared with any hotel, airline, restaurant or service I engage? With the ever growing relationship between Facebook and TripAdvisor it's only fair to believe that soon all of our information could be pooled together to give a full "FBI" style background report before we even arrive.
There are many foreseeable positives. Who wouldn't appreciate an unprompted "happy birthday", "happy anniversary" or "congratulations" on arrival. Are you a sucker for a high floor corner room or a corner table at a restaurant? It's safe to assume that all of this information will be noted and available to the hotel before you arrive in hopes of winning you over. If you are very socially connected, (facebook, instagram, twitter) and a frequent contributor to TripAdvisor, I could only imagine tailored perks and courtesies coming from this advanced guest information. A hotel would automatically see that you have great social reach, are a frequent reviewer and thus would be inclined to sweeten you up by throwing some freebies or preferred treatment your way. Hotels will be more concerned with reaching into your social ranks and engaging others in your positive experience than they will with the pennies they lose on upgrades, welcome drinks and amenities.
On the negative...well who wins? If you are known for being a really rough reviewer and have a large social network are you going to get better treatment than the nice guy who is just happy to be there? In the end hotels will decide how to use this information on a case by case basis. If I arrived at my hotel room to find the New York Islanders game on, the temperature at 70 degrees, The Eagles playing through the stereo, a Casino cocktail (Gin, Lemon, Maraschino and Orange Bitters) and a salted caramel chocolate cake waiting I can certainly say I would have a very hard time finding something to complain about. At the same time any hotel who is paying this much attention to detail likely would more than fairly deserve five stars.
I an attempt to see how others view the issue I raised the topic to notable Travel & Points Blogger Gary Leff of View From The Wing who kindly contributed an interesting insight:
"Already better hotels will often try to understand their guests including with publicly available information, the more social sharing is done the easier this practice is. This is a changing landscape and I don't think hotels or guests have really figured it out yet, so it's difficult to say how it will evolve, just that execution matters. We can wring hands over it if we wish but it won't matter, evidence is that the vast majority of consumers will give up most any information in exchange for modest rewards."
My conclusion is that following the times is the best answer. Join TripAdvisor, leave reviews, post photos and above all be honest about your experiences. If your honest social media life and reviews get you nothing, at the end of the day you have helped guide other travellers. If a hotel chooses to entice some positivity out of you with a few perks well then lucky you......