TRYP New York City Times Square South just opened its swanky doors in one of Manhattan’s most happening locales. Nestled right in the midst of Time Square’s action, the spirit of TRYP truly seems to embrace all that is techy, glitzy and now.
Owned by Wyndham, TRYP’s website explains, “this is the first TRYP hotel we open [sic] in the U.S., part of a family of exciting properties in the world’s most attractive hotspots including Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Frankfurt and Paris.” So what is it that makes this European-style guestination so socially savvy? The hotel has its very own social network: “LobbyFriend.”
LobbyFriend is the first and only of its kind, a temporary social network for TRYP’s guests and staff.
I first read about LobbyFriend in the travel section of USA TODAY and I was intrigued. Hotel Check-In columnist Barbara De Lollis explained her own pleasant surprise when she discovered the social perk upon checking in (the writer was covering the grand opening for USA TODAY and inadvertently discovered this one-of-a-kind hotel network). De Lollis right away noticed large monitors all over the lobby featuring content that looked Newsfeed-esque; the clerk checking her in explained that these screens were showing the live feed for LobbyFriend.
Every guest is given a card with a password providing access to the free network. If a guest so chooses, he or she can download the free app from iTunes and then log into the network for the duration of his or her stay. Some social perks include networking, making friends with other hotel guests, and getting a gist for what’s going on within TRYP. Want to cozy up with a book and a cocktail at the lobby bar? Now you can ask those down there what the vibe is before you show up only to be miffed by the soccer hooligans raucously watching the big game. Or better yet, if you’re looking for hooligans to join in with, now you can easily find them.
In my opinion, the best aspect of the network is the direct connection to hotel staff. Now the concierge is merely a couple clicks away at all times during your stay (or at least someone who can answer concierge type questions). If you’re out exploring New York City and need directions, a dinner recommendation, or advice on the best galleries to check out – just post a message on LobbyFriend and someone from TRYP will get back to you quickly. As long as you’re checked-in to the hotel you have access to the app, you don’t have to be physically in the hotel by any means.
LobbyFriend’s site outlines some more specifics about the app. You can log in with a unique LobbyFriend name or your pre-existing Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn account – this opens up for all kinds of long term networking possibilities. Users can “post on the streaming wall, see who just checked in, join the latest events or deals, [or] stay updated with your hotel activities.” The “deals” refer to exclusive offers from either the hotel or nearby vendors just for network members. The “lobby” is a virtual location on the app that has a live feed of status updates and to which users can “check-in,” the virtual lobby is meant to mirror the real TRYP lobby. You can scan the guest list to see who else is in, create or join activities, or chat via private messages with guests and staff. LobbyFriend suggests examples such as creating a “spa day” and asking other interested guests to join you or using the PM feature to thank helpful staff members.
For travelers, this is a huge draw. I’m a social media geek with little shame, so I’m all about being public on social media platforms and chatting to strangers, making friends. I understand that asking other random hotel guests what they’re up to or if they’d like to meet up may not be something that appeals to everyone. But the access to staff seems universal to me, and it’s an undeniably clever use of social media.
Caroline Costello, writer for Smarter Travel, was able to get in touch with Jason Ayoub, cofounder of LobbyFriend. She wrote that Ayoub, “…highlighted the ephemeral nature of this “temporary social network.” Said Ayoub, “Basically, you are ‘checked in’ to the network from the day you check in to the hotel to the day you check out. Upon checkout, you are automatically removed from the ‘lobby’ and the guest list, and all your related activities get deleted (i.e., the platform removes all traces of you even being there!).”
Both articles I read did mention privacy issues. Costello is mindful to point out that the nature of the network makes for face-to-face meetings with other network users quite likely. Everyone active on LobbyFriend is staying in a small radius of one another at the same time. Privacy is always an important thing to consider and everyone has their own comfort zone.
I think the app sounds super rad. It makes me want to stay at TRYP just so I can try it out! The hotel is tech savvy in a variety of other ways too: free wi-fi throughout the premises as well as hard wired high speed access, iPod docking stations and multimedia connectivity panels, Laptop size safes in every room, and specialty media rooms with 60” flat screen TVs, Nintendo, Blu Ray players, 3D glasses, surround sound, and popcorn makers.
I don’t know about y’all, but I’m starting a TRYP vacation fund right away. It all sounds so fun to me.
Would you be willing to jump on a social network like LobbyFriend? Which of its uses appeal to you?
LobbyFriend is the first network of its kind and TRYP New York is the first hotel to feature the platform. Big plans for spreading access are on the horizon though; I wouldn’t be surprised to see this catch on rather quickly.