Imagine doors that unlock without you having to get out of bed, ordering in-room dining service without having to reach for the phone or allowing kids to take the flight with Angry Birds when you are busy. Tablets have changed the way we do things. Why, you can even chose your nail colour on a tablet in the spa
If you are part of a growing breed that reaches out for your Smartphone or iPad as you wake up every morning, there’s a good chance you will feel at home at some of the luxury hotels. The rooms come equipped with an iPad featuring a customised interactive user interface. In case you take the idea of a ‘bed coffee’ seriously, all you have to do is check the TV camera screen when you hear your room bell ring and hit the ‘door unlock’ button from the comfort of your bed.
It’s not just the safety of the camera screen, especially for the hotel’s female guests or the convenience of being able to open the room door without trudging a few feet, the iPads allow you to flip through the in-room dining menu and place your order without actually dialling room service. You can control the lighting and air-conditioning, check your bills, surf the Net or your TV from a single screen. But if you’d like to play a game or use your favourite app, you will have to use your own device. At a time when convergence is the new buzz word, ITC Grand Chola is not alone in harnessing the potential of the tablet to engage with consumers.
The Vivanta by Taj at Whitefield Bangalore is in the heart of Bangalore’s tech boom and technology is always part of the mix in the hotel’s guest services. The hotel’s speciality dining restaurants Tease and Terracotta were among the first in the city to use iPad menus. It’s not just the appetising images on the food menu, the hotel’s Food and Beverage team discovered that guests found the detailed wine lists very informative and in some cases also allowed them to place orders without displaying their ignorance. Restaurants the world over are discovering that tablets allow them to incorporate seasonal items on the menu and also amend prices without adding tacky stickers or reprinting menus.
It’s been three summers since the iPad made its debut and spawned a range of clones; the tablet is now one of the fastest growing gadget categories globally and looks set to eclipse the PC. The iPad might be one of the ultimate objects of desire but a slew of devices powered by Google’s Android like the Nexus 7 have become the first choice of tablets for many consumers. A brilliant blend of technology and lifestyle is now allowing businesses across the world to creatively sell their services to a whole new generation of consumers whose trigger mechanisms respond better to interactive gadgets.
Spa Senza put its entire nail colour and nail art menu on an iPad realising that the high definition colours of the tablet would be almost impossible to resist. Orra stores in Delhi and Mumbai use iPads to showcase their catalogue of solitaires testing age-old beliefs of how women buy jewellery. The Shangri-La hotel in Shanghai made a big impression with its iPad check-ins. The entire audio visual console at the hotel’s Summit meeting room is hooked up with an iPad dispensing the need for an intrusive hotel staff member at a confidential high-power meeting. Art museums in Europe are also using these interactive screens to create captivating experiences.
Keeping kids engaged
There was a time when you used a toy to keep your kids and toddlers engaged; sometimes one toy at a time. Today most parents find ‘tablets’ an easy remedy to keep children engaged; when they tire of Angry Birds they can switch to Fruit Ninja or Falling Fred. And just in case parents forget to slip that iPad into their bags as they leave home, establishments like Pradhan’s Dental clinic in Mumbai have a back-up device waiting to keep the kids company while their parents or siblings are having less fun on the dentist’s chair. KLAY prep schools in Bangalore and Gurgaon actually have iPads among other toys for two-five year olds at their centres.
Interactive screens and kiosks have long been used as an experiential marketing tool but what makes this paradigm shift engaging for businesses and patrons is the fact that most consumers are in familiar territory and can navigate effortlessly. Tablets are gradually acquiring an omnipresent form. If you are one of those types who needs the occasional escape from these gadgets, don’t worry; the Digital Detox holidays that put the Caribbean islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the spotlight recently might soon arrive in India.