Marriott Launches New App That Creepily Connects Guests With Each Other

six dgreesAfter a long day at an out-of-town work conference, it might be nice to enjoy a drink and casual conversation at the hotel bar. Now, instead of taking the chance that your fellow guest will drone on and on about their love for all things animal print, consumers can find like-minded guests they actually want to talk to connect with, but not in the “let’s take this to your room” context.

In an attempt to better connect with a new generation of business travelers, Marriott unveiled an app that connects guests by scanning their social media profiles and using interactive lobby displays, Fast Company reports.

“A lot of times when you’re on the road, all of a sudden you find out it’s a very small world. You’ll sit across the bar from someone and find out they went to your school or were in the same fraternity,” Paul Cahill, Marriott’s senior vice president of brand management, tells Fast Company. “The idea is, how do we bring social media into this public space and make it easier?”

The Six Degrees app, which was developed by students and researchers at MIT’s Mobile Experience Lab, connects guests by scanning their LinkedIn profiles for information such as where they graduated from, what company they work for and what hobbies interest them.

If a connection is found, users are sent a notification about each other. But just because someone else at the hotel likes rock climbing, doesn’t mean you’ll actually interact with them.

That’s okay, because the app goes a step farther by sending your information to hotel staff, who can then organize group activities such as wine tasting, jogging trips or networking events.

A series of physical lobby features, including an interactive digital screen and LED table, also work to connect guests. When a user places his or her phone on the LED table, lights will illuminate based on their connections to others seated nearby.

While Six Degrees might be a bit, ahem, creepy, it could have been worse. Researchers say an early prototype of the app used Facebook to connect guests. However, that apparently proved to be too personal.

“We wanted to mimic behaviors people are comfortable with,” Cahill tells Fast Company. “We certainly don’t want people’s pictures popping up everywhere, and being stalked around the hotel.”

Fast Company reports the new app will be tested starting this month at a Marriott near MIT’s campus, but officials hope to expand the product to all 500 Marriott hotels in the United States.

Marriott And MIT Reinvent The Hotel Lobby As A Social Hub [Fast Company]

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  1. AlaskanPixie says:

    This sounds like as stalker’s dream. How is connecting directly to Facebook too personal but pretty much handing off the same information but in a different way not personal?

    All of this is creepy to me. I’m hoping that you have to have downloaded the app before Marriott starts telling everyone about your rock climbing interest or whatever.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      Yeah, this could be done in a way that protects privacy, but people who come up with these ideas usually agree with Zuckerman that privacy is soooo 1995. If you have a double opt-in system, then you could only see there are matches for a hobby or an alma mater, then you could anonymously send that person an invite to connect, maybe with a custom message:

      “Hey, I’m State U. Class of ’99, majored in underwater basket weaving! Maybe we had a class together.”

      Then they would have to agree to share information to connect, or they could keep communicating anonymously:

      “I was Class of ’99, but I was in the theological school. But I had a roommate, Joe Blow, who majored in UBW!” etc.