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NFC: Does Nobody Care About Near-Field Communications? Actually, Some Hotels Do

Jun 17, 2013

It’s wasn’t long ago that the mobile industry webosphere was abuzz with discussions about the potential of near-field communications (NFC) technology to drive engagement and sales.

Many were predicting the rapid dominance of the “virtual wallet” and contact-free payments. Today, however, many of those who were swept up in the NFC hoopla have slammed on the brakes and taken a more cautious attitude toward the technology, which hasn’t yet broken through into the mainstream as it had been expected to do by now.

Some have gone as far as saying that NFC stands for “Nobody ******* Cares.”

Apple’s exclusion of NFC technology from its iPhone 5 seems to echo the above sentiment: NFC still isn’t ready for prime time. The hotel industry, however, isn’t sitting idly by. Property by property, this industry is looking closely at how it can NFC’s potential regardless of what Apple or industry pundits are saying.

In “Hotels Hanging on For NFC Technology…Will 2013 Be the Year?” which was published in Hotel Business Executive last week I shine a spotlight on several hotels that are using NFC to engage guests and discusses some of the benefits that NFC adoption can have for this industry.
Take, for example, a pilot NFC room-key program at Stockholm’s Clarion Hotel, which has received very positive reviews from participating guests. Or the push by Caesars Entertainment to equip thousands of non-electronic signs in its eight resorts and casinos around Las Vegas with “passive NFC” tags that can be scanned by enabled devices, launching interactive marketing content.

And there plenty of other ways that hotels benefit from using NFC technology:

  • Savings on the manufacture of plastic card keys as well as the costs of replacing lost or stolen cards.
  • Improved security through remote key creation – which can make employee background checks and guest ID quicker and simpler.
  • Keys can be programmed to work only during designated time periods for better security.
  • NFC car keys can bring more efficiency to valet parking and operational fleets.

Apple may have passed on NFC, but then again, it’s no longer considered the most innovative player in the mobile space. Samsung has just snagged that distinction in consumers’ eyes and is the company supplying Caesars’ TecTile NFC tags. It’s also partnering with Visa to deliver the credit card company’s PayWave mobile app on next-generation NFC-enabled smartphones.

Of course, none of this ensures that hotels will widely adopt NFC. But it will be very interesting to watch what happens as more hotels incorporate the technology into their guest engagement strategies and operations.

Are you in the nobody cares about NFC camp? Or do you think there’s a real potential for NFC – not just within the hotel sector?  I’d love to hear your views in the comments section below.

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