This Hotel Room Can Be Free — If You Don’t Look at Social Media

Author: David McMillin       

Tablets, smartphones, and laptops — no matter where we turn, one of our screens is waiting for us, and each of those glowing devices is just a click or swipe away from the world of social media. However, all that “social” activity can make us less social with other non-screen humans around us. The Hotel Bellora in Gothenburg, Sweden, is taking an unorthodox approach to getting guests to disconnect from their devices with a promotion for The Check Out Suite. The price of the room is not based on supply and demand in the area. Instead, it’s based on how much time guests spend looking at social-media sites.

A Wi-Fi-enabled screen-free lamp next to the bed supposedly measures how much time an individual spends on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and Twitter, moving from white to red as the minutes add up. “The price of the hotel room increases as the light changes from 0 SEK (Swedish krona) to full price with a cost of 20 SEK per minute spent online,” the hotel’s website states. “After recommended recreational screen time of 30 minutes per person, the lamp switches to red, and you have reached full price for The Check Out Suite.” (Twenty Swedish SEK, or kronor, equals US $2.20.)

This break-up-with-social-media challenge sounds serious, too. The website includes information about a jury of employees that will verify the lamp’s results, and “the jury’s decision cannot be appealed.”

Creating a Real Connection With Prospective Guests

A lamp may do the math to determine how much time guests spend scrolling through their feeds, but the foundation of the promotion relies on establishing an authentic relationship between the actual people at the property and prospective guests. To check in to The Check Out Suite, interested travelers must send an email with the names and ages of their family members and why they’re hoping to spend the night in this digital detox room. That feels significantly more meaningful than signing up for an email list, liking a hotel’s social page, or joining a loyalty program.

Consider what Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt know about me: my address, my credit card number, what type of bed I prefer, and some other fairly standard pieces of information. Now, think about the email I just sent to this property in Sweden that includes my wife’s name, what I think we would gain from ditching our devices for an evening, and my personal thoughts on the dangers of social-media addiction. That’s all a bit deeper than demographic data.

Will I win the opportunity to check out? Well, I hope not. The maximum value of the promotion only covers the room and breakfast the next morning, so this should probably go to someone local. Whoever is lucky enough to score this suite will have another reason to smile in addition to a free hotel room: A recent Stanford and New York University study shows that breaking up with Facebook can make people happier.

Hoteliers in the U.S. want to help guests disconnect, too. Check out this article on Wyndham’s Reconnected program.