Self Service phone charger – a thing of genius at Premier Inn

I’m always intrigued with new self service offerings. That comes from the days when as ATM software developers we couldn’t pass an ATM without checking what make it was and the software it was running. The business models changed dramatically back in 99/2000 when ATM sur-charging came into prominence and into the UK. There was a gold rush of activity and a land grab for good sites as ATM operators came out the woodwork to deploy low cost, revenue sharing machines. Ultimately the market got saturated and revenues for some proved hard to get – so the market contracted… a lot.

Fast forward a few years and we are still software developers – typically DNN developers on the Microsoft .Net platform – but the self service world we now inhabit is in the web design self service world not the real one. But I am still a sucker for self service machines – take the one I’ve been using in a Premier Inn – it’s for charging your mobile phone.

I had to do a double take on it – at first I thought it was a reception lockable safe for wallets and passports – but eventually I spotted that the attractor screen on top was telling me to charge up my ipod or iphone or nokia or samsung. My first thought was how on earth it could make money or generate any meaningful return. £1 for 30 minutes of charge. You need a lot of charging to cover the costs I suspect.

But you know what – it is a thing of near genius. I had forgotten my iphone charger, and given that it seems to be discharging faster than ever, the self service charging machine was a god send. London without the maps on my iPhone is a tricky place for me and Mrs O to navigate.

But horror of horror – the next day the machine wasn’t working – catastrophe and one that showed how quickly new self service technology can become essential to the forgetful traveller. And then with some help from the reception desk it transpires the machine was working – it was only the attractor screen that had packed up – phew.

But what about that attractor screen? We all think we are imune to advertising – but it worked very successfully on me (I’ve spent £3 so far). But when that screen isn’t working how quickly will revenues fall?


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