It used to be that having a newspaper dropped at a guestroom doorstep was an essential amenity, especially for business travelers. Nowadays, with so many guests getting their news online, newspaper delivery just seems like a lot of money to spend for very little benefit. When you consider the hassle associated with buying physical papers, delivering them to each door, and getting rid of the extras, then it makes sense to go digital.
Newspaper publishers are already going this route, developing smartphone and tablet apps that serve up all the news that’s fit to print in an eye-pleasing format. But more and more newspapers are also setting up paywalls that allow users to read only a few articles for free but only give full access to subscribers. If hotels want to provide guests with full access to big papers like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, they have to pay for the digital version as well.
Foli takes a different approach by offering a virtual newsstand within its iPad and iPhone app. The software uses geofencing technology to unlock each publication within a property’s confines, which means no longer buying stacks of papers or tossing old ones. Hotel owners can even add their own content to the app, stocking it with local maps, amenity guides, and restaurant menus.
“We started with magazines for our platform, which consisted of a mobile app that served up newsstand titles like Vogue and People on hotel guests’ smartphones and tablets while they were staying at a property,” says Foli Co-founder and CEO Henry He. “But this digital platform can be used for everything paper related.” He says that beyond stocking the app with magazines and newspapers, the company works with hotels to develop interactive versions of their promotional materials. “A hotel can add video, audio, or slideshow content that showcases its spas or restaurants.”
The app can even be used by hotel concierges to recommend restaurants and other local attractions. “I think hotels have been basically trying to figure out a way to kind of combine services and reduce cost but at the same time create a good guest experience,” He says. If that means no more stacks of newspapers to deal with, then he could be on to something.