Hotels can be lonely places—their marble floors and immaculate bathrooms, strangely impersonal. Marriott, however, has begun to work on making its hotels more inviting for the technologically savvy.
Marriott and MIT have teamed up to develop a new app that connects people with shared interests who are staying at the same hotel.
The app, called Six Degrees, lets people sign in using LinkedIn. It then uses those LinkedIn profiles to match people who attended the same school or were members of the same fraternity or both simply enjoy wine tastings.
According to Fast Company, an early version of the app had used Facebook information to match its users, but researchers decided that the model might pose privacy concerns by circulating Facebook photos and details to strangers staying at the hotel. LinkedIn offered a more private way to match people, while revealing less personal information.
Hotels equipped to use Six Degrees will also house a large, interactive screen in their lobbies. When users place their phones on the screen, it will light up based on how many connections they have to other people seated at the table, according to Fast Company.
Hotel workers can also use the app to organize group events, such as wine tastings or rock climbing excursions.
The move to develop the app speaks to a broader push by Marriott to connect to a younger, technologically savvy crowd—future business travellers. In fact, college students were the ones to develop the app, which was the brainchild several students enrolled in an undergraduate class at MIT last spring. The project was then taken up by the MIT Mobile Experience Lab.
According to Fast Company, Marriott said that it would begin testing the app at a Marriott just steps away from the MIT campus during June and could later expand to around 12 hotels for further testing.