6 years ago

What happened when a hotel armed social media-loving clubbers with RFID wristbands?

It was a curious move earlier this year when a hotel on the famous European dance music island of Ibiza decided to combine RFID technology with social media in a major way.

As well as being an upmarket property, the Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel has one of the many large nightclubs on the island around its pool area and attracts thousands of clubbers to gigs, so it made sense for bosses to experiment with both technology and to tap into the visitor widespread use of Facebook by its guests and visitors.

The idea was quite simple: guests were be given the option to wear an RFID tech-based wristband throughout their stay, a devise which is then synchronised to their Facebook profile.

Sensors were installed throughout the hotel so that users could swipe their wristband to upload pictures, have their status updated automatically (“I am dancing at the Ushuaia…” etc) and check-in using Facebook Places.

Those visiting the hotel in order to see a particular gig were also asked if they wanted to wear the devices.

The business reason for carrying out the project was primarily to raise awareness of the hotel itself, but also attract clubbers to its party nights and capture masses of data about visitors.

So how did it work out?

  • At the beginning of the busy period for gigs and guests (in July), Ushuaia had just 4,000 fans on its Facebook page. By the end of season it had close to 70,000.
  • Seven wristband scanners were used around the hotel – one at the entrance to the property, another at the hotel’s reception, others dotted around the pool, bar and beach areas.
  • Three of the scanners were contained within photo booths, so wristband holders could also take pictures of themselves and friends. Images were automatically uploaded to the walls of each of the guests within seconds.
  • An average of 300 individual wristbands were used every single day.
  • Each wristband holder performed around three or four functions (checking in on Facebook, uploading pictures).
  • Approximately 6,000 items of content were recorded over the course of the season.
  • Close to 7,000 wristbands were manufactured at the beginning of the season (each cost between Euro 1.50-2). Around 2,000 were lost or not handed in at the end of a visitor’s stay.

The results which the Ushuaia has shared are interesting on many levels, not least because in social media it went from being just another Ibiza party venue and hotel to one of the most popular and talked about venues on the island.

The hotel has also got its hands on reams of valuable information: demographics of visitors to the gigs (6:4 in favour of men), what gigs they attended, who with, how long for, etc. The email marketing programme during the close season will inevitably be extremely well targeted.

The project did have a few technical hitches, bosses admit. On some occasions, on the busiest nights, bandwidth issues kicked in when hundreds of guests were trying to post status updates to Facebook, for example.

But on the whole, Ushuaia is seeing the experiment as an enormous success and plans to resurrect it for the summer 2012 season, with a number of enhancements such as RFID scanners on the arms of professional photographers so pictures are also uploaded immediately to the main Ushuaia Facebook page.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  3. Mohamed Kamar

    RFID now is leading the world, if anyone interested in any kind of application or product concerning RFID
    don’t hesitate to contact me.

  4. Steven

    it says “speak your mind” not “speak what we approve”.
    Let me know if you moderate and approve one comment at a time or if you’re not approving of the comment I’ve repeatedly attempted to post @ RobertKCole

  5. Steven

    Can the moderators pls let me know why my comment replies are being censored out ? are you particular as to what is posted here ? the last comments I attempted to post were using facts and figures to do with technology. I don’t see how they’re not valid.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @steven – no censorship here… your comment simply went into the spam folder because of all the links in it.

  6. Juergen Hoebarth

    Yes we see the same results here at http://www.reallifeconnect.com we enable as well events with our own technology. And have similar figures. If you are interested to get data how this technology can effect your event take a look at our Analyze which you can find here http://blog.reallifeconnect.com/some-results-from-one-of-our-events/

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  8. RobertKCole


    That is a very interesting perspective.

    Let me try applying that same brand of logic to a slightly different scenario:

    Headsets were first invented by NASA to facilitate hands free communication by astronauts.

    Those headsets were later used by telephone operators, and ultimately consumers, with certain technical advancements now making wireless headsets available.

    Why give people headsets?

    It is obvious that this is part of the master plan coordinated by the evil military industrial complex that supported manned space flight. Clearly, their intention is to send us into space as experimental lab rats to colonize the solar system in support of covert military objectives and to secure mineral rights…

    It is all so very clear now.

    Seriously, I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but you are really stretching here.

    If the government wants to track & control dissenters, they’ll just chip us – just like people currently chip their pets. That is a much more efficient method – particularly because the tracking device wristband can not be removed by the target.

    • Steven

      Interesting the positive ion EMF field that’s emitted from wireless headsets for use in communications. EMF’s impede general health.

      There is no theory that political power groups conspire and you know that so why downplay the facts I shared ? is it because I said what it is used for ?

      In regards to chipping people like pets, Verichip came out with the implantable chip then went out of business because of protest they merged with Steel Vault data collecting company and became Positive ID which has projects involving implantable glucose sensors for diabetics and pandemic detectors. The next phase of implementing is to make it friendly by making it appear to be a benefit to our health.

      There’s no stretch, it works like this, it begins in the supply chain and in logistics then at events like the Coca Cola facebook party in Israel. From recreation the program is for it’s implementation in clothing tags, smart stores (ie. IBM and metro group store initiative) and smart cards. In Korea by 2014 will be completed Gale International’s project called “New Songdo”. This is the article from the New York Times about this city: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/05/technology/techspecial/05oconnell.html?pagewanted=all
      Cisco systems will wire the city with synapses and every activity will be monitored, smart cards are to be used in stores, car/door entry etc.
      Multinationals like 3M, Cisco and IBM among among others wish to go into what they call “the instant city business”, wiring cities, collecting many forms of data from citizens and building ubiquitous radio frequency identification smart cities. IBM has created the infrastructure for the smart city

      So that’s the way it works, it’s an IBM smarter planet concept,
      smart technology in present day business and technology terms = RFID
      so an RFID planet is what IBM’s vision is

      I value what information you have to share and your perspective. I just want people like you who understand technology to be aware of what the program is. Maybe you can do something in regards to this. Conscious open minded individuals can change the world. Thanks

  9. Steven Del Rizzo

    RFID is fun and cool, if you want to use world war II technology fighter pilots used to determine friend from foe. The only reason why it exists for consumers is to track people like objects are tracked. ABC news owned by Disney put out a story about facebook having a database of billions of faces using biometric technology. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQFhgk_rn6o
    For what purpose ? why so much collection of faces, places ? this is nothing but facial recognition and geotracking, these we’re once used only by military. All this technology pretending to be for consumer benefit we’re tested first in the military. For the purpose of being used to control dissenters, to keep dissent from spreading and to keep it from being broadcasted over the net. Yes this net is cast to collect what and whom ?

    play the game if you want
    this game is designed for the designers to win
    and everyone loses

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @steven – huh??!?! What a minefield of valuable information the CIA will get from tracking the hedonistic activities of clubbers in Ibiza.

      • Steven

        No implementing it first through recreation and fun is the best way to integrate it into the rest of of daily life. If you read IBM’s RFID Sourcebook you’ll see just how many companies are in the RFID business and how many technologies they wish to make RFID.

  10. Steve Daly

    How can I make contact with the people at the hotel that ran this social media campaign. I would like to offer them RFID wristbands that were used at the top US music festivals at a fraction of the cost they are paying now.

    ID&C Ltd

  11. Mar

    Hi guys!

    He’s not Kevin May, but Moby. They’re actually quite alike…
    The picture was made by Pedro Quirós (Tilllate Spain).
    Moby was DJing at Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel on August 10th, 2011. You can see the whole gallery here:

  12. Graham Hills

    I presented something very similar at Web in Travel this year in Singapore from a startup, wooz.in, doing something very similar in Indonesia.

    The potential brand impact of this type of activity for event venues/organisers/bands etc is huge!

  13. RobertKCole

    I may be mistaken, but I believe the photo accompanying this article was taken of Kevin May hosting a Tnooz Appy Hour…


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