Order coffee, pizza, gas and a hotel … from your car
Order coffee, pizza, gas and a hotel … from your car
27 JUNE 2019 7:37 AM

In-car commerce is here, but hotels may not be the best-use scenario.

Often when we have conversations about the next waves of technology affecting hotels, cars come up.

More specifically, we like to talk about the influence self-driving vehicles will have on the hotel industry. There’s the good side: Trucks will be able to deliver food supplies and FF&E in half the time! And there’s the potentially not-great-for-occupancy side: People won’t have to stop overnight on long trips to rest, and they won’t need to crash at a hotel after a long night of partying. (Drunk driving isn’t a thing if it’s a computer doing the driving.)

The other vehicle-related tech topic that’s heating up is in-car commerce, and it’s something I’ve been reading about a lot this week.

If you’re not familiar, here are the basics: Many new cars today, of course, are hooked up with connected services via a touchscreen: You can access satellite radio, satellite navigation, weather services, etc. That connectivity comes through apps that you pay for or opt into, or your vehicle manufacturer opted into or developed.

Just like with anything else in our connected lives, where there is an Internet connection, there’s an opportunity for commerce.

Automaker General Motors’ Marketplace is the one you’ve likely heard of. GM strikes deals with merchants, and via apps, drivers can order food, book a hotel (GM’s deal right now is with Priceline), link credit cards and pay from the car, too. Just this week, Marketplace added Domino’s as a vendor partner, so drivers now can order and pay for a pizza from their car.

• Two good articles to read for some background: “GM’s newest technology can reserve hotels, order doughnuts for you” from the Detroit Free Press and “GM likes early Marketplace results, 2.0 version coming” from WardsAuto.

Sounds pretty great, right? So how do hotels fit into this?

Right now, both the technology and the hotel piece are in early days. Priceline provides the information, and it’s not a function drivers can do while they’re actually driving (which, good). Information itself is limited, and all these systems are strictly touch-operated right now.

In other words, it’s relatively simple to tap a Starbucks button and tap your pre-loaded order, which routes to your predetermined Starbucks outpost, and have it waiting for you, paid for. It’s another thing entirely to fire up Priceline and search for the location, price and amenities you want from a hotel.

Plus, car manufacturers are collecting commissions on these transactions (See above comment about “where there is an Internet connection, there’s an opportunity for commerce” and add to that, “where there’s commerce, there’s a chance for a commission.”)

In my opinion, the hotel use for in-vehicle commerce is still far off. We can do most of this with our smartphones already (car manufacturers are competing hard with Apple and Samsung on this), and that technology is much more advanced and user-friendly, not to mention portable.

And consumer demand doesn’t appear to be all that high for some in-car commerce uses, either. A study released this week by Strategy Analytics shows drivers care most about in-car commerce apps that enable finding and paying for parking spaces—not ordering pizza or hotel rooms.

Still, it’s an interesting tech segment to keep an eye on. Technology really only improves, so as voice commands, more sophisticated payment card authentication and personalization enters this space, it might be right for a big hotel company to strike a deal.

Of course, once those self-driving cars go mainstream, we won’t need to find a roadside hotel anymore anyway, so there you go.

Want to weigh in on how vehicle technology may influence the hotel industry, or just share your favorite SiriusXM channel with me (mine’s Ozzy’s Boneyard—just kidding)? Comment below, email me at sricca@hotelnewsnow.com or find me on Twitter @HNN_Steph

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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