What If CES Was A Hotel?

It’s official. It’s the entirely new year of 2013. I know this because:

  1. The Waterford crystal ball in Times Square made its annual journey down a pole.
  2. I dated a check with the year 2013.
  3. The news and blogosphere are wall-to-wall with coverage of the latest tech gadgets unveiled at CES—the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

Now I’ve never been to CES, but it sure feels like I have for all the tweets, blog posts, and video coverage I’ve consumed over the years. This year is no different. The live-stream coverage of Qualcomm’s eyebrow-raising keynote made me cringe (you can watch the replay here). Then there’s the waterfall of gadget news. There’s the curved OLED TV from Samsung, an enormous 20” tablet from Panasonic, and a fork that vibrates if you eat too fast. I suspect that if I had a nickel for every “cool,” “neat” and “wow” that was uttered in Vegas this week, I’d be a rich man. 

But I’m far from Vegas in a rather nondescript hotel room in Toronto right now. It’s a big chain that you’d recognize, but for all intents and purposes, it could be any chain hotel, anywhere in the world. It’s sadly nondescript, and I suspect, due for a renovation soon. Nothing in the room caused me to say “cool” or “neat” or “wow.” As I stare at the standard-issue TV, my only thought is, “Is that a LodgeNet videogame controller? Has anyone ever played a game using that thing?”

Clearly, not every hotel room needs to create a lasting impression. After all, we’re asleep for most of the time we spend in them. However, imagine if CES operated a hotel chain catering to business travelers. Do you think that hotel would be boring? Not on your life! At the CES Hotel, you could waterproof your iPhone while waiting at reception. And the plants would tell the staff when they needed water. And don’t even get me started about the flexible-display phone that they would have in every room—they’d have to tie those things down to keep them from walking out of the hotel.

And that’s the point. Business travelers have disposable income, and hotels have the space that tech manufactures would kill for to showcase their lifestyle gadgetry. Sure, some chains have dipped their toes in the merchandising waters to sell beds, bedding, and other ancillary products. There are also boutique hotels known for their hi-tech touches. But where’s the hotel chain that consistency breaks the monotony of business travel with the wonder of technological innovation and surprise at every turn? 

Maybe I’m alone in this thought, but as I sit here staring at the set of three, all-too-familiar architectural prints on the wall, I certainly wonder how my loyalty would shift if Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood or Wyndham turned one of their hotel brands into a consumer tech showcase. Is it so difficult to believe that my unmemorable room could be transformed into “that place I first saw the coolest thing ever”?

The marketer in me salivates at the loyalty such a brand could create—as well as the referral engine it would build as business travelers shared their experiences with friends, family, co-workers, and the world (thanks to social media). Yes, it would take some doing, but please sign me up for a first night stay at “the CES Hotel” because I, like many others, want to be “wowed” in 2013.

And really, shouldn’t we all?

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