Electronic in-room guest directories

The Financial Times (subscription required) has a report on the approval by European regulators for the purchase of TeleAtlas, a digital mapping company, by TomTom, the maker of navigation devices while also noting the impending €8.1bn ($12.8bn) purchase of Navteq by Nokia. The FT characterizes these acquisitions as spurring “one of the hottest business fads on the internet”.

For the hospitality industry (and many others) it could be more than a fad. At first glance, it could revolutionize the way hotels cater to business (and leisure) customers’ needs for local area information. Many operators perforce have to deal with stodgy old (print) guest directories that for some cash strapped operations result in ad deals with local area businesses as a quid-pro-quo for a “free” directory. The result, often, is a clumsy cluttered directory that omits more than it includes. Navteq’s potential acquisition by the world’s biggest maker of hand held cell-phone devices could result in hotel customers having access to “vast libraries of information describing the world in painstaking detail!”.

It is not hard to imagine sales executives visiting their beat and knowing minutiae about local area businesses. As Microsoft’s Erik Jorgensen notes “Imagine, that you are going to the theater: you will probably want to find other things nearby, like a place to park and a restaurant, so it makes sense to search by location”. As the FT rightly notes this could be “something as prevalent and powerful as Google’s simple search box”.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.