Hotel Trades Landlines For iPhones – A Transition That Could Be Easier Than You’d Expect

Hotel Trades Landlines For iPhones – A Transition That Could Be Easier Than You’d Expect

Vancouver hotel ditches traditional phones for iPhones – a process that may be easier than you’d think.

The Opus hotel in Vancouver made a somewhat shocking announcement last week. The hotel was ripping the landline phones out of its rooms and replacing them with iPhones. While that seems extravagant, it’s actually a rather brilliant plan.

The hotel, which already offers guests an iPad that can act as a concierge service, points out that offering guests, particularly international guests, an iPhone adds a lot of value. In addition to the value for customers, Apple’s free iOS management tools could make implementing such a program simple and relatively inexpensive – beyond the cost of the iPhones themselves anyway.

Offering an iPhone to each guest means that he or she can make calls while in the room, in the hotel, or anywhere they happen to go – that means guests who aren’t from Canada don’t need to worry about international roaming charges. It also means that they have quick and easy access to hotel services, which will be programmed into the phone along with a range of apps for entertainment and finding their way around Vancouver and surrounding areas. When a guest checks out, the iPhone is wiped.

Given the lending approach the Opus is striving for, this seems like an ideal situation for Apple Configurator. As we’ve noted since the initial release of Configurator earlier this year, the free utility seems tailor-made to situations where iOS devices are given to users for a specific use or timeframe and then returned and refreshed.

Configurator also makes the act of refreshing iPhones and iPads extremely simple. Once the needed configuration profiles are created and specific devices are prepared for use with Configurator, refreshing and updating can be as simple as connecting devices to the Mac where Configurator is installed. That process could easily work well in a hotel environment where front desk staff might not have a particularly strong IT background.

Although this is a single hotel, the practice definitely adds value and it could be replicated very easily. On a smaller scale, it would also make an excellent service for a bed and breakfast or smaller family run hotel.

  • lwdesign1

    Sounds like a great idea, and something I’d loved to have had on my last trip to Amsterdam. However, if you’re the kind of person who comes home from a trip with one or more hotel keys you forgot to return (if you can remember all the way back to when hotel rooms required keys instead of plastic cards to open them) you may be in for more than a $25 charge to replace the phone. I’m curious as to how the Opus Hotel will track the phones and deal with theft, loss and breakage of the iPhones. I used to live in Vancouver and love the city. The Opus is new to me, as I haven’t been there for 26 years now. I’m pleased to see my former home town getting so progressive with Apple gear.

  • joewaylo

    As far as hotel keys are concerned, iOS 6 would replace that lwdesign1. If you have watched the Keynote, they are releasing PassBook which saves your hotel card. The hotel card can be encoded into your iPhone and if they replace the pads with red light scanners, then that’s solved.

  • Demonstr8r

    Sounds like a dumb idea for several reasons. After I’m home, how do I prove that the iPhone is still in the room when I checked out? How many people want to risk the chance that the phone isn’t cleared when they check out, leaving phone numbers, texts, browser history, etc for hotel staff and/or others to see? Am I going to carry my iPhone and the hotel iPhone everywhere? Who wouldn’t be pissed to learn that they were charged for damage to the device that was caused by a previous patron?

    A better idea would be to outfit rooms with an Apple TV, so iPhone and iPad users can conveniently use AirPlay to display their own content on the large flat-panel HDTV and/or play their music on decent speakers. Of course, that is from a customer perspective, but monetizing content would be better for the hotel. However, integration with Passbook is a useful feature, if I can use my iPhone as a key to enter the room, pay for food and drinks, etc.

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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