In an unexpected move, Microsoft is the latest company to partner with the tech-forward hotel brand Ushuaïa Beach in Ibiza, Spain.
The hotel has pioneered many prior initiatives, such as integrating RFID wristbands with social media and using fingerprints to pay, and has placed itself at the forefront of alternative thinking when it comes to using technology in hotels. Granted, this is a party hotel on a party island, which makes these sorts of integrations much more feasible given the younger, more connected demographic.
Microsoft has not had a runaway success with many of their next-gen technologies, such as the Surface. However, the Kinect was one of the most successful product launches in history, selling 24 million units since launch. The company is clearly seeking new ways to place technology in an integrated fashion, where they can work together in concert. Such integrations are proof-of-concepts for a full Microsoft ecosystem.
Earlier this season, Kinect was installed in all 85 suites at the Ushuaïa Tower, as well as around the hotel lobby and reception. The Kinect has the infra-red detection system, which is linked to the Microsoft Xbox console. This not only provides streaming multimedia content, but also allows for a truly innovative way to socialize a hotel: room-to-room video chats.
In a party hotel such as the Ushuaïa, the ability to chat with others face-to-face is surely going to be popular. A group of guests arrive, settle in with drinks, and simply start chatting with strangers from their room. After chatting, it will forge bonds that enhance the overall experience at the hotel - this halo effect (no pun intended) means that guests will have more fond memories and perceive this as a premium experience.
Select suites also feature Surface tablets with Windows 8 and Office 365, which provide a second-screen experience for Xbox 360 content.
Large PixelSense touch screen tables ware also prominent features of the lobby, which allows for direct social media socialization in the public space. This space is also enhanced by free WiFi access throughout the hotel property and at events, meaning that guests can also share their experiences in real-time.
Initial indications show that the hotel is enjoying great success from the past three years of technological integrations. They went from 70,000 fans on Facebook to nearly 300,000. On Twitter, the brand has 76,000 followers, and continues to grow its engagement numbers through a branded app and interactive promotions like the UshuaïaDJ Facebook game, which allows fans to become real DJs by spinning songs and winning prizes.
The hotel has also announced even more interactivity, both online and off:
"Other new initiatives include the Palladium Hotel Group / CLIC2C technology, which reads invisible watermarks and turns offline material into virtual experiences, as well as an interactive floor at The Ushuaïa Tower that transforms the lift area into a fun and dynamic space."
Juan José Calvo, Group Commercial Director, Corporate Sales Director at Palladium Hotel Group, finds that the integration with Microsoft has strengthened their brand promise:
"We are delighted with the collaboration with Microsoft, which is now the basis for all our global technologies. The Facebook Presence totems, Paytouch and Microsoft technology has allowed us to expand the Ushuaïa Ibiza brand worldwide, across all ages.
For Palladium Hotel Group and Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel, our focus on social media allows us to get closer to our customers and respond quickly and efficiently to all comments and requests. Our dedicated social media team will swiftly reply to everything that comes through our social media channels and it provides a direct line to our customers. We are constantly evolving to ensure that we can keep surprising our customers with new innovations and provide cutting-edge services.”