Apple made several big announcements on Monday at the WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference), but one of them should be of particular interest to hoteliers. In their presentation on iOS 6 (the operating system for iPhones and iPads), they highlighted a new app called Passbook.
Passbook is an application that will store your loyalty cards, your boarding pass, movie tickets, etc. Similar features have been available in other brand-specific apps, Starbucks being the most common. What happens with the Starbucks app is the user holds their phone up to the scanner, and the scanner reads a QR code that is linked to that person’s loyalty card number. Deducts the amount from their balance, and the user gets their new balance almost instantly through the internet.
Apart from collecting all those loyalty cards and boarding passes into one area, the big feature is that Passbook is location and time enabled. This means that when you are at the airport to check into your flight, Passbook will display a notification showing you the boarding pass you are going to need without having you search your phone for it. It will also gather the most up to date information about the gate or if the flight is delayed.
This opens up the possibility of guests being able to get information about their rooms or perhaps other special events happening at the hotel pushed to their phone when they are within a few miles of the hotel where their reservation is. Guests could receive a notification when their room is ready to check into, or whether housekeeping has serviced the room after they checked in. Check-in procedures could also happen effortlessly with a quick scan of the phone’s screen or have the reservation information displaying automatically for the Front Desk agent to view. Of course, the guest could also pay for the room right from their phone without having to worry about finding the correct credit card to use.
Some of this may be fantasy for the hotel setting, but I was curious to see that when Apple mentioned their brand partners, there was one hotel chain listed: W Hotels by Starwood. If one branded hotel is on board, I have to imagine that other brands will be quick to follow. Once more brands are implementing Passbook, the independent PMS systems will start work with it, pushing us towards an exciting future.
To read more about Passbook and other Apple developments, check out these sites: