Innovation That Matters

Hotel helps guests connect online

Travel & Tourism

Most hotels today give guests a way to connect with them online before their stay, whether for making simple room requests or to shop ahead for items from the hotel’s retail offerings. New York City’s Pod Hotel, however, is now using an online forum to let guests make advance connections with each other as well. Formerly the Pickwick Arms, the Pod Hotel is a 347-room budget hotel located in the heart of Manhattan’s Midtown East neighbourhood. Targeting young, hip consumers, the hotel aims to provide budget accommodations in a stylish and trendy way with mod-furnished rooms featuring iPod docking stations, free wifi and LCD flat screen TVs. Even more innovative, however, is the hotel’s PodCulture forum, which is designed to let visitors swap stories, trade itineraries and ideas, and get to know their fellow guests before they arrive. Once they’ve booked their reservations, guests are sent an email that includes a link to the PodCulture blog and a unique user ID code. That code allows them to create a profile for the blog and begin communicating with other guests. Categories on the forum include “Drink with Me,” “Eat with Me,” “Shop with Me” and “Go Out with Me,” and they are broken down into months, giving guests a way to meet, interact and invite others who will be staying at the hotel during the same time frame. “Coming from London” and “Having some drinks and a fun party,” for example, were both among the message titles posted in recent listings. Owned and operated by BD Hotels, the Pod Hotel provides another nice illustration of how brick-and-mortar establishments can use “clicks” to increase loyalty and improve the customer experience. It’s an obvious one to emulate for hotels around the globe, and maybe even tour operators, cruise ships and–dare we say it?–airports and airlines as well. After all, anytime groups of people know they are going to be present in the same physical space for more than an hour or so–airport terminals being a particularly shining example–they’re bound to appreciate the ability to make connections and socialize. What better way to facilitate that than online? (Related: Airline’s social networks connect frequent flyers.) Spotted by: The Globe and Mail via Parul Rohatgi



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