Are temporary social networks a good idea?

I noticed a news story about a hotel in the US that has created a system where customers can network with other guests – a kind of temporary social network that only functions while you are staying in the hotel.

At first glance it sounds bizarre. Most business hotels are fairly drab places that you would not want to socialise in, let alone spend hours scanning to see who else is staying there. But I think there is a very nice customer-centric idea here.

How many times have you met someone interesting on a bus or plane and thought, if I had not said hello then I would never have met such an interesting person?

All the hotel is doing is trying to make the process easier – and I can see how the same application could work in many other environments.

How about on planes? What if you could connect your flight and seat number to your Facebook profile so the airline copies your profile and makes it available during the flight only to other passengers on that flight? It could be a great way to do some business networking.

And talking of networking, when will someone use this technology to help delegates at conferences find each other? When I go to a conference, I often scan the delegate list and draw up a list of who would be interesting to meet, but if there are thousands of people all scattered across a large hotel or university, then how do you find them? What about a temporary social network focused on that event only, and even better if it uses your mobile phone so you can be alerted if someone you are interested in is nearby!

Now that I’m thinking about it, this idea of a temporary social network really does seem like an interesting idea that is also a great way to engage customers. If someone can create a platform for temporary networks of customers that can connect and use information from your main social networks then I think they would be onto a winning service.

Network problems
Photo by Jeremiah Roth licensed under Creative Commons

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