Out sister magazine Hometoys.com recently published an article from our friends at DSI Entertainment on the subject of iPads, etc. as remotes: 5 Reasons Why I Love my iPad but Hate it as a TV Remote Control. I agree with everything that Eric wrote and I’m not easily impressed. On a recent trip to New Orleans, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a case where the iPhone was way better than the TV remote and had me checking out their offers and ads.

I was staying at the Inn on Bourbon St (note to self: take earplugs next time). I got into the room and flicked on the TV for some white noise while I was working. On the welcome/please buy an overpriced movie screen, there was a note about an App to control the TV. What the heck, I’ll check it out, I thought.

So I went to the App Store and downloaded the Lodgenet app (conveniently, there was a QR code for it on the TV screen). I then went to the relevant screen on the TV and was prompted to enter a code number in the App:

On launching the app, I was prompted to select a city and then the Hotel (shame it couldn’t pick this up from the WiFi). Once the App had established where I was, I was presented with a home screen offering the choice of Hotel Features, Local Info or In-Room TV Control

Clicking the In-Room TV button took me to a new screen where I was given instructions and prompted to enter the code shown on the TV


Once connected, I was able to browse on-demand TV shows and movies, but most importantly, control the TV.

A Transformative Experience

Now, you still have to do the whole Swipe and Wait thing, but that was tolerable given the benefits. I was no longer stuck with those awful remotes they use in hotels, which always seem to have expiring batteries. More importantly, I had the channel list, so instead of having to find the little laminated cards with a channel listing that they have in all the hotel rooms, and turn on the lights to read it, I could simply browse the channels on my iPhone. There was also a volume control and power on/off.

The most obvious missing feature was a channel guide.

On Target

Lodgenet have done something smart here. They’ve turned a mediocre experience (dreadful TV remote and printed channel guide) into a promotional/advertising platform.

I’ve been to New Orleans a few times and there are so many restaurants that I’m always on the lookout for something new or somewhere I haven’t tried. I found myself checking out the Local section to see what restaurants were advertising. Most hotel patrons are business travelers and typically join the hotel reward schemes. So the hotels have an idea of the demographics of their guests, making it easy to target the right guest with the appropriate ad/offer.  Even without loyalty club membership, a very broad demographic can be derived from the room price, location and current events. For example, I was there for a software conference, as were many of the other guests. From this it’s reasonable to infer that a large number of guests had an interest in the conference topic. Typically, when booking hotels for conferences, a discount code is available for attendees, so the hoteliers know exactly which guest is there for that specific reason. Targeting doesn’t get any easier than that.

With digital signage software suites extending to mobile devices, others could benefit from this approach. Asking someone to sign up just for offers rarely works, but giving them a compelling reason to install a platform that also contains promotional material. We’ve come a long way from the daily specials being posted in the elevator.

In addition to self promotion and selling local content sponsorship, they also receive iAd revenue from Apple (Delta Airlines ad in screenshots above).