iPad Tablet in Hotels? Are We Ready?

Several days ago, we discussed the impacts of iPhone Apps to hotel operations (http://linchikwok.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-will-iphone-travel-apps-change-our.html). On January 28, Apple introduced its newest innovation --- iPad Tablet. What does Tablet means to our business?

According to the suggestions of Terence Ronson at Hotel-Online.com, Tablet will be used to enhance hotel operations, such as the following:

1. “E-Reg” cards with signature capture will replace traditional registration cards;
2. E-menu with pictures will be used, and guests can read wine reviews with external links;
3. Housekeeper can capture maintenance issues and submit the maintenance request via Tablet;
4. Sales and Marketing staff can travel with Tablet for presentations and make reservations directly with Tablet.

These functions all sound great, but my question is how will Tablet really make a difference in operations? In fact, existing technology already allows us to capture guest e-signatures (e.g. when we sign our credit cards) or order foods on e-menus (you may watch the attached video for e-menus; I watched it more than one year ago). Of course, iPad looks very trendy and modern, but it is not cheap. Considering the benefits associated with the operation costs, I am not very optimistic of iPad’s future in hotel operations. The bottom line is why would a hotel use Tablet if it can be replaced by something else that is a lot cheaper?

Renee Oricchio expressed her concerns about Tablet at Inc.com. She questions whether the Tablet may become real popular among consumers. Why? The price could be a boundary. On top of that, users need to sign a two year contract with 3G service providers, and this two year commitment is not cheap either. I personally don’t expect any immediate effect from Tablet in the next couple years. Let’s wait and watch how Tablet may influence hoteliers and/or customers.

References:
Hotel-Online: http://hotel-online.com/News/PR2010_1st/Jan10_IPad.html
Inc.com: http://technology.inc.com/blog/2010/01/why_apple_tablet_may_bomb.html
Photo was copied from http://www.apple.com/
Video was downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp-D7aHzr6Q

video

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