Untitled Document

So who's sleeping with you tonight?

Posted on 13 Jan 2012 at 16:57 pm by Yeoh Siew Hoon

Other than the fact that not much went right upon my arrival in Heathrow – mix-up with transfer and booking – it’s been a good first day in London.

I have a room overlooking Kensington Gardens and as I write this, the sun (a very weak version of the one I left behind in Singapore) is valiantly trying to break through the winter sky.

The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington has had a very nice upgrade. The room is a good size and functional, if a trifle draughty. In the lobby is a frighteningly huge statue of the Malaysian hotel owner, Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat, who I actually mistook for Mao when I arrived in my jetlagged state. (Do all statues look alike in the dark?)

Logging onto the Internet, a page from Swisscom Hospitality Service, pops up, telling me “the weather at your location”, giving me information “around your hotel”, “flight status and alerts”, “international newspapers”, “live radio”, “currency converter” and “translator”.

Not bad. I found the weather and map quite useful on first arrival and wondering if I should go for a walk to clear the cobwebs from my two seven-plus-hour legs on Qatar Airways to get here.

Under “Around Your Hotel”, it allows me to search by interests – café, nature, theme park, etc. I tried UNESCO World Heritage and it tells me there are eight within my vicinity – Westminster Abbey, Royal Botanic Gardens, Tower of London, etc.

It’s a good example of content aggregation, followed by curation, but not quite personalization.

Imagine if it figured out I was Ms Siew Hoon Mr Yeoh (the name I am checked in under) and am vegetarian (which I wish I was) and instantly gave me a list of vegetarian eateries nearby.

That’s the kind of granularity hotels want and all that personal information about us is out there. After all, never in history has so much been shared by so many for so little …

Sometimes, it seems to me that while we share to a frighteningly granular detail what we are doing every moment of our day, the only people who are really interested and paying attention are marketers – plus or minus a few “friends” (we hope).

Discussing this possibility of greater personalization by hotels over dinner at the Royal Garden’s Min Jiang Restaurant last night (okay, it wasn’t me who wanted Chinese but a local friend who had heard the Beijing duck was good), she said to me, “I think hoteliers are the only people who don’t know who they are sleeping with.”

Perhaps it’s because all customers look alike in the dark?

Tags: Hotels , London , Internet , travel