It was a busy year in social media -- so busy that inevitably I missed some cool stories. Here’s a neat one from this summer that flew under my radar: it seems one of the world’s largest hospitality chains is getting into the social media business, with Marriott’s ongoing experiment to create a social network for guests staying at its hotels, focused on the hotel lobby as a place to mingle and meet other guests.
The social networking app, called Six Degrees, was created in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Mobile Experience Lab and draws on profile information from LinkedIn to highlight connections between guests. Guests who download the mobile app just have to “sit down” at a virtual table, which then lights up if they have connections to anyone else who is logged in. One nifty feature: hotels where the social network is active will also have a large interactive screen in their lobby, and guests can simply place their phone on the screen to see what connections are around them.
Talking to Digital Trends, Paul Cahill, Marriott’s senior vice president for global brand management, described Six Degrees as “a real-time networking, social networking tool that we think is power for people who travel to different cities on a regular basis, who are looking to find other like-minded people who have similar interests. It might just be, we like the same sports team or we both graduated from the same college, or it could be we both grew up in the same city.”
This isn’t the first attempt to use social media to take some of the boredom out of travel. Also this year, Virgin America created a social network for Virgin passengers using Here On Biz, a social proximity app for iOS that integrates LinkedIn with location data. The new Virgin network works in flight, but also for airports.
And in 2012, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines debuted a program that allows passengers to upload information from their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and match themselves up with other ticketholders in seating arrangements.