The 557.6-billion pound gorilla just made another stride toward the hotel industry.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Earlier this week Apple—the largest company in the world with a market capitalization of $557.6 billion as of Thursday morning—won a patent for its iTravel transportation check-in system.
You’ve probably heard the name before. The iTravel patent originally was filed in 2008. (Leave it to the bureaucrats in Washington to slow the pace of progress.)
But the award officially clears Apple to begin its foray into the travel space. That means everyone’s favorite technology provider—unless you’re an Android or, dare I say, a BlackBerry junkie—will invariably be sticking its paws into your central reservation systems and on-site PMS.
|Will hoteliers be able to maintain similar focus if Apple enters the distribution space?
In a nutshell, iTravel will allow guests to manage travel reservations and more seamlessly navigate the check-in process for various modes of transportation. Users of the iPhone might, for example, bypass the tedious process of pulling out various forms of identification at various check points while making their way through airport security.
Forget boarding passes and photo IDs or even fingerprints and retinal scans; iTravel will store all that info and transmit it to various systems using “near field communication.” (In layman’s terms, NFC is the technology that will allow travelers to simply wave their iPhone at the TSA checkpoint to transmit pertinent identification.)
The patent comes just at the right time for Apple, which recently announced an upgrade to its operating system that contains “Passbook,” which stores boarding passes, coupons, movie tickets and loyalty cards in one handy place. Some of the app’s most useful capabilities likely would not have been possible without iTravel.
So while that’s all good and dandy (and has this Apple enthusiast salivating at the mouth), it could mean more headaches for you hoteliers.
First, there are the aforementioned check-in implications. We’re not quite sure how seamlessly iTravel will integrate with your existing PMS, but odds are it will require an upgrade in technology should you choose to indulge Apple geeks.
More important, however, is this little nugget in the patent application: “Various methods may be employed to acquire the reservation and identification information on the handheld device. For example, travel reservations may be made via the management application.”
Does that mean Apple is going to dive into the distribution waters? I can’t begin to imagine the ripples it would create in the process. (A tidal wave is more like it.) While much of the company’s success stems from its insanely intuitive devices and software for users, it’s also earned a reputation for being, shall we say, a bully on the b-to-b side.
If you want to play in Apple’s playground—and gain access to the hundreds of millions of users worldwide contained therein—you’ve got to abide by the company’s rules.
Just look at what the company did to the music industry with iTunes, which turned the industry’s distribution model on its head, granting users a seamless platform to buy and sample the latest and greatest tunes. But in the process, it devastated retailers and eked out a share of profits from artists and record labels.
Could Apple do the same in the hotel industry? I wouldn’t put it past them. The move would be patently Apple.
Now on to the usual goodies …
Stat of the week
26%: The percent increase in room rates for hotels in London thus far during July compared to the same period last year, according to trivago’s Hotel Price Index.
The uptick, which saw average rates increase from £185 ($278) to £210 ($324), can be attributed largely to the build up to the Olympics in only a few short weeks.
Quote of the week
“In a time where government is imposing so many things on small businesses, when they’re making it more expensive for us to do business, to come back around and rig this and provide downward pressure on rate is ridiculous.”
—Mark Crisci, co-president of K Partners Hospitality Group, discussing the potential cuts by the U.S. General Services Administration to per-diem rates in “Proposed per-diem changes raise concerns.”
No word yet on an official decision by the GSA regarding per-diem rates, but it’s coming, folks. We’ll keep you posted.
Comment of the week
“#1 ROI Metric of Social Over time will be Return PAST GUESTS, secondary would be sentiment or Klout Scores if you seek HARD ROI! Every guest at your resort now has a megaphone to sing a resort's praises or slam them with a bad Tripadvisor Review which now integrates with Facebook! Approximately 60% or more of online travelers research Tripadvisor before booking their stay. Facebook Fans are people who have OPTED in to hear your resort's message, potentially replacing email marketing in the future! Tools like Revinate and TrustYou offer great metric tools for monitoring online perception of your hotel and show comparisons with competitors! Mobile App campaigns for iphone (sic) via outlets like NY Times can generate Direct Bookings! You can't fear what you don't understand, you have to evolve and adapt or you won't survive!”
—Commenter “tamboshannon” responding to a rant (read: blog) from HotelNewsNow.com’s Jason Q. Freed titled “I’m tired of the social-media ROI rhetoric.”
Freed and “tamboshannon” share a similar underlying viewpoint here—and one that bears repeating: You can’t make legitimate denouncements of social media if you know nothing about it. Read up, or turn the key decisions over to teammates who know what’s going on with social media.
Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.
The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HotelNewsNow.com or its parent company, Smith Travel Research 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.