Privacy and the here and now consumer

The Financial Times of January 15th 2015 has an intriguing story with somewhat frightening overtones from a privacy standpoint. The UK broadsheet's article's points to how the Internet of Things may be going too far at least in the opinion of luxury car maker, BMW. The German auto company says that "technology companies and advertisers are putting pressure on carmakers to pass on data collected by connected cars" and highlights the concerns the automotive industry faces as it treads a fine line between performance and privacy.

BMW as well as rivals like Mercedes-Benz feature cars that come with a wireless network that could yield information about location, speed, acceleration and even the occupants of a car including how many adults and children. Marketers from a variety of industries are salivating for a peek at all that data so as to be able to formulate programs to target willing and perhaps even unwilling drivers with information on products and services that likely are relevant to both parties. An example of that, as noted in the FT article, is suggesting, for example, the proximity of a McDonald's outlet if a child is in  (and presumably) hungry. Apart from being tremendously insightful it is arguably insidious at least in privacy terms.

If allowed to proliferate, it could prove a bonanze to the hospitality industry, for example, by suggesting to drivers – after the car has "sensed" driver fatigue – the presence of nearby hostelries. If there is a willing customer driving the car then hotel preferences could be programmed so as to take the car to the nearest compatible lodging accommodation.  There are already several GPS based accommodation sites that offer deals but with the added benefit of having information beyond merely the profile of the customer such as recent travel and even physical state, a new and more precise lodestar could be in the offing.

Somewhat apropos the preceding line reports that Booking Now an app from seeks to capitalize on a recent report which found that nearly 25% of searches on hotels’ mobile sites are for same-day or next-day check-in. Instant gratification (and satisfaction?) could be on the anvil with data from BMW and others.

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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.