Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Connecting via iPod

In our household September has been eagerly anticipated for some time.

A couple of months ago my son's 18-month old iPod Touch decided that it had enough and stopped working. We sent the iPod back to it's maker and the word soon came back that it's condition was terminal. Our bad luck!

You would think that we would be reasonably p*ssed, however due to our addiction to commercialism and our uncanny ability to always look on the bright side we circled September on the calendar as the time when the new updated iPod Touch was due to be released. Sure enough at the beginning of this month, the Apple deity Steve Jobs announced to his cult of fanatical followers that it would be so. A new iPod Touch has been released and it now comes equipped with a couple of cameras, HD video recording and a screen resolution that's better that life itself.

Naturally we will be shelling out $500 for a replacement.

Essentially the iPod Touch can do everything an iPhone can do, except it doesn't have the ability to connect to a cellular network - it can however connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. 

So what does this mean for the accommodation industry? Accommodation providers with children or grandchildren will first be introduced to the new iPod Touch when their wallet suddenly becomes $500 lighter. Then they will note that their guests will start turning up to their motels and hotels en masse with these devices.

Thanks to Apple, there will be unprecedented consumer demand for quality Wi-Fi in accommodation complexes from guests with multiple devices and it is inevitable that there will be increased expectation that this is to be given free.

With the functionality of High Definition video, guests with an iPod Touch can easily make person to person video phone calls over wifi networks. An HD video movie can be easily shot, edited and uploaded to YouTube that will share "here and now" handheld experiences, including reviews and recommendations that will inevitably include accommodation. 

The iPod Touch with it’s inherent Wi-Fi and instant access to apps makes it easy guests to review  businesses. Traveller reviews are the currency of social networking and the iPod will allow guests to easily post website reviews on the likes of Jasons, AA Travel, TripAdvisor etc.

There is an opportunity is for savvy high-tech accommodation providers to start building location-based information resources for guests around their complex. The introduction of camera on iPod Touch will create a larger uptake in the use of QR (Quick Response) codes and other optical triggers like Microsoft Tags to allow the provision of rich media to guests.

Often social networking fads are the most unlikely and the application Ping by Apple that makes it easy for fans and followers to give music recommendations could be the next big thing. Could accommodation providers use Ping to share their own music tastes or a genre that closely follows their brand?

One fad that is currently with us and is unlikely to fade anytime soon is location based social networking such as Foursquare and the potential of Facebook's recently released Facebook Places. Although the iPod Touch hasn't got the GPS functionality of the iPhone, location based platforms will enable iPod users to identify their location by the Wi-Fi connection that they are hooked up to.

Accommodation providers have a challenge and an opportunity to take part in the increasing conversations that online communities are having about their travel experiences.

This is a phenomenon that accommodation providers will not be able to opt out of.

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