Sunday, March 29, 2009

What Does This Business Center Tell Us?

We traveled to San Diego earlier this week and stayed in a Courtyard by Marriott (very nice, by the way, even though they are remodeling). While there were certainly some families staying there, it appeared as though the majority of guests were business travelers. I used the Business Center in the lobby to print some directions and our boarding passes, and I found their computer setup interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, they were running Thinix, a kiosk-style interface that runs on top of Windows XP.

Second, and most interesting to me, was how they had the kiosk interface configured. Here’s a picture of what the computer looks like when you walk up to it.

This is the main tab, and I find it very interesting what they chose to include here considering their primarily business clientele. Web browser, Chat (linked to Meebo), MySpace, Facebook, Google, YouTube, and the Weather Channel. Now, assuming they are attempting to meet the needs of their business travelers in the most efficient way possible, and assuming someone consciously thought this through, I find it significant that the main tab had mostly social resources, while the Office Apps tab was relegated to #2. But let’s look at the other tabs as well.

On the Office tab, here’s what it looks like:

The word processor, spreadsheet and presentation apps are all ThinkFree Office apps, then they have some remote connection apps and a calculator. So, while this was still running on top of Windows XP, it’s interesting that they don’t feel compelled to offer MS Office for their business customers.

The games tab isn’t all that interesting (other than that they have it at all):

But moving on to the Bookmarks tab we see once again what Marriott apparently thinks their business guests are most likely to want to access:

Here’s the Media tab:

Again, interesting choices – YouTube, Hulu, Pandora, Flickr, then the three networks formerly known as the “major networks.”

So, what does this Business Center tell us - what’s the takeaway from this? Perhaps nothing profound, but perhaps another indication of the shifts that are occurring in all areas, including the traveling business world: from desktop to desktop/cloud combination, from private to social, and from proprietary to open source.

So, I’m curious. At your school, what direction are you going (are you shifting the same direction?), and what page do your computers/browsers open up to?

If you’re curious, at my school browsers start up to a locally hosted version of this page. This is the external version that our eeePC’s (37 currently, but hoping to add to that) that connect wirelessly start up with, since they are not connecting directly to our domain, but instead are using the open side of our wireless network that any student device can connect to.


  1. What, No Twitter?
    Seriously, though I find it equally intersting - Corporate America should take notice

  2. I found those pictures fascinating. I think they're pretty astute at that hotel.

    The computers in our school's labs open to our school's website. The computers in my classroom open to my class's delicious site.

  3. @Terra - Perhaps they are assuming all the business folks are accessing Twitter through their phones?

    @Jenny - That's great. If I was still in the classroom, I'd probably have the computers either open up to the class delicious or perhaps the class blog/wiki/portal.

  4. Maybe they just shouldn't be called Business Centers. I bet they are actually apportioned quite well according to actual use.

    As for not having MS Office, I think that's great. Personally, I think Open Source or even iWork '09 is the way to go.

  5. Thanks for sharing the pictures, it is an eye opener. This also seems to be along the same lines as getting a masters in social media:

    How things continue to change.


  6. I wish our desktops looked that simple and direct!

    I find it fascinating--can we define at our schools the "go to" sites for our students that way?

    And how many of them are we filtering out?

  7. Karl,

    I think the page set out is probably a result of a customer service survey. I am thinking of my generation, especially those who are not computer savvy as the present generation is. For those of us who are technologically savvy, what we want is immediate access to the page which we often use. For me, that means the Internet Explorer and of course Facebook. If those two things are right there in front of me, it means less nervousness trying to find out where I could locate those. I might be wrong, but then again who knows.

    Nuusa Faamoe

  8. Thinix offers products for hospitality, education, healthcare and business.

    A computer using the Thinix Kiosk user interface has a variety of default icons that are chosen from the most popular websites. The icons and background image can be customized as desired, though this particular unit looks to be running the stock configuration. Thinix Kiosk not only provides the user interface as seen in your pictures, but provides a number of back-end security and management features important in the deployment of public-use computers in places like hotels, libraries, schools and hospitals.

    The specific computers at that location use Microsoft XP Embedded, which is why the ThinkFree program is being used, as Microsoft Office cannot be installed locally on a XP Embedded computer.

    We hope you enjoyed using the computer and we appreciate the feedback.

    Thinix Staff