Monday 4 February 2013

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What I Want Hotels to Know About Me (and What I Don't)

You know that comment you made on Facebook last week? No, not the one about your family that doesn't listen to you. The one about loving chocolate and hating rock hard pillows? (OK, truthfully I can't imagine an instance where you would mention both of those things in a single status update, but play along with me here.) Well that comment is being read. It's being read by your friends. It's being read by those people who you don't really remember but felt obligated to accept their friend request, and unless you've got your privacy settings down tight, it's also being read by that hotel you're planning on staying at next week. 

Plaza Hotel New York Fairmont
Shhh. They can hear our status updates!

According to an article in this month's Travel and Leisure, hotels are researching their customer's social media profiles to help tailor their clients visits. Comments made in passing on Facebook or Twitter are being noted by hotel management, and before a customer ever arrives at the hotel, staff has a list of likes and dislikes belonging to each guest.

That kind of concerns me.

Not that I have an issue with a hotel doing a little research on me. I firmly believe that if I want to keep something to myself, I don't put it on the internet. Those deep, dark secrets of mine don't become status updates on my personal Facebook page, and I certainly don't Tweet about my work or family issues. If a hotel thinks they can improve my stay by reading my social media profiles, then I say go ahead and have at it. What worries me is that hotels may not quite understand my personality enough to be able to use the information that I do share properly. For instance:

  • My knowledge of One Direction lyrics could be seriously misconstrued by anyone who doesn't know me on more than a surface level.
  • I've recently been followed on Twitter by a Seattle escort company. That's definitely not the kind of information that I'd like the hotel to use when catering my visit. Especially if I'm traveling with my wife.
  • I didn't realize it until I started checking my Facebook profile for this article, but apparently I socialize with a lot of alcoholics. I'm sure that says something about me, but I'd rather the hotels not act on whatever it is.
  • Sarcasm doesn't translate well on the internet. I'd hate to find myself enrolled in a half-marathon by a well meaning concierge just because I told one of my crazy runner friends "Sure, I'll be right behind you" the last time they invited me to go for a jog.
  • Then, of course, there's this whole list of things that I'd rather hotels not know about me...

Hyatt Place Dulles Airport Washington D.C.
What do you mean we have to stay in the lobby?

It seems however, that unless I want to spend days adjusting my privacy settings every time Facebook has an update, that this is the way of the future. Hotels are going to know about me and my family long before we arrive (which probably explains why we never get the nice towels), so I might as well get used to it. That being said, you should probably expect to see the following status updates on my Facebook page in the near future:

  • "Wow did I sleep well last night! Those mattresses filled with $100 bills are WAY more comfortable than the ones filled with $20's."
  • "I wish that the pool waterslide started at our room window."
  • "Wouldn't it be cool if Kate Upton was the hotel maid?"
  • "Instead of us all going downstairs, somebody should make a hotel where each room has it's own breakfast buffet!"
  • "How awesome would it be if you opened the room safe and it was filled with Diet Coke?"

Now that's the kind of information a hotel could use to make my stay truly memorable. Along with the chocolate and fluffy pillows of course. I just need to figure out how to get those two things into a single status update.

Fairmont Pacific Rim platinum amenity chocolate
I should have put some fluffy pillows in this shot...

Written by Steve Pratt