In a move to recreate the hotel and travel experience, LobbyFriend has come out with the first ever temporary social network.
The application, which is featured in Wyndham's new hotel TRYP in New York City, connects guests and staff in an effort to make vacations and business trips less lonely and more memorable.
The difference between LobbyFriend and similar applications such as Foursquare and Facebook's Check-In feature is that LobbyFriend is all about being a temporary social network.
"Guests have the option to access LobbyFriend the second they enter the hotel," said Jason Ayoub, co-founder of LobbyFriend."And once they check out, any information they have submitted is erased from the database. It's as if they were never even there."
But while guests are at the hotel, LobbyFriend, which can be downloaded for free from iTunes, acts as an informative source for everything that's going on in and around the hotel.
According to Ayoub, guests can get as involved as they want to with its Lobby Stream feature -- much like the Wall feature found on Facebook
"The cool thing about the Lobby Stream is that in terms of the interacting with guests and staff, anything goes . . . guests can ask questions, which will be automatically answered by the hotel concierge. They can also post a message telling other guests about a cool meeting spot," Ayoub said.
Another feature that LobbyFriend is fond of is its push notifications.
"We understand that most people are either on vacation or on a business trip and don't have time to stare at the Lobby Stream," explained Ayoub. "That's why we have push notifications. Guests can customize these notifications to fit their needs."
Guests can be notified of anything they want. From an event posting to someone selling tickets to a local game or show, a dinner discount at the hotel restaurant, or even if the hotel loses electronic power, guests can specifically select which kinds of notifications to receive so that they will never be left in the dark.
Of course, when talking about social networks, the one thing people are always concerned about is privacy. As LobbyFriend is a new and innovative network, the privacy feature is one thing the Montreal, Canada based company has made a point not to overlook.
As you physically check-in to the hotel, the concierge will hand you a code card which allows you to access LobbyFriend -- something that is optional during your stay.
Once you have access to the network, all that is required is a name (and it does not have to be your real name), e-mail address and gender. From there, LobbyFriend offers the option to submit further information such as occupation, interests and even a photo.
"The app is not meant for people to get to know everything about you -- it's meant for people to not feel like they are alone in the hotel," said Ayoub. "We want guests to remember the hotel and city they are in so that they come back again."
Like Facebook, every guest has an inbox to message other guests. Messages can be from staff notifying you of an event or an emergency. Or, they can be from fellow guests asking you to meet for a drink.
LobbyFriend also features a Block User option. The option will block your network presence from the user that you have selected so that total privacy is achieved.
Once you physically check-out of the hotel, all push notifications stop and all of your information that you have submitted is automatically erased. Guests and staff can no longer contact you, nor will they know that you were ever even at the hotel.
The temporary social network concept is something new that Ayoub and the rest of his LobbyFriend team are hoping will spread throughout the travel community.
"We want LobbyFriend to be the standard hotel network -- the one app people know they can connect to," said Ayoub. "Of course the more people that use it, the more it catches on."
As Ayoub promises that LobbyFriend will be featured in more hotels in the coming months, he glimpses towards the future for the temporary social network.
"Hotels are just the beginning for our network," said Ayoub. "Eventually, we hope that travelers in every city will know to use LobbyFriend."