Last week, as I jammed another vanilla copy of USA today in my backpack to head toward SFO and a 6 hour flight home, I yearned for the sports section of the Boston Globe so I could read all the ugly analysis of why the Red Sox were sucking recently. And then it hit me – why in the world hasn’t Amazon capitalized on the hotel market? I’ve spent somewhere between 150-200 nights a year in hotels of varying classes in the past 3 years and besides the standards (bed, towels, tiny shampoo bottles) there are a couple of other items in almost every hotel:
- A silly copy of USA today every morning. Does anyone actually subscribe to this newspaper or have they just cornered the Hotel market?
- A bathrobe, hanging in the closet, with a sign that says something like: “Feel free to keep this robe…and we will charge you some ridiculous fee to your credit card on file.”
Hotel’s have lots of travelers and with lots of payment information and lots of free time – seems like a captive audience. So, if I’m Amazon, I go to all the major hotel chains, and cut them a deep deep discount that looks something like this:
- Bulk orders of tens of thousands of kindles (one for each room) pre-loaded with the top 25 bestsellers and every major newspaper in the country – all at some deep discount – say $50/unit.
- The hotel can now cancel their subscriptions to USA today (even though I’m sure that’s discounted as well) and likely break even within a year
- The hotel puts a tag on each Kindle telling the hotel guest that the device is theirs to keep, and the hotel will just charge a discounted rate (maybe 10%) off the retail price to their room. (bonus if they can bring them a new device to their room if they choose to purchase)
Winner: Amazon – They get their device in the hands of the target audience – travelers (especially of the business variety) without having to go into retail stores. Now when the holidays come around, they can make an informed decision or maybe they get hooked right then and there and get 5 more people excited on the plane ride home.
Winner: Hotel – Better service to their guests, likely saving money (and the earth) on disposable newspapers no one reads, and some additional revenue from the sale of devices.
Winner: Guests – Can now access their local newspapers and/or books, try new technology, and walk away with a device at a discount if they choose to.