Friday, April 29, 2011

QR Codes for B&B

One of my colleagues in the tourist business (in Hammerfest tourist office, Norway) complained once that she had to put bar codes on all the items in the souvenir shop, and that some items were so small that she didn’t know what to do. If only she knew about QR codes!
This made me think of the presentation made by German researchers at the Enter2011 conference in January. That is when I first learnt about the QR codes. To tell the truth, it took me a while to understand what it was. But after all it turned out to be an interesting and exciting invention that can be used almost anywhere, for tons of purposes.

Simply said, a QR code (short for Quick Response) is sort of bar code familiar to everyone who visits a supermarket. But bar codes are one-dimensional, which does not allow coding of enough information in it. QR codes on the other had are two-dimensional and thus contain much more information. One can find more information on details in Wikepidia, for example. I would like to concentrate on the usage of QR codes in the hotel business.

What kind of information can be coded? Nowadays any information can be coded. Most popular kinds are QR codes for web sites and personal information (contact card). One can code any text, phone-number, SMS.

How can one get a QR code? One can develop them. Don’t ask me how, cause I am not a programmer. What I know, is that there are resources on internet where anyone can create QR codes absolutely for free. Check out for example: a simple QR code generator, or a bit more detailed one. This one seems to be fine too: QRStuff. As usual – just Google the phrase and you will get hundreds of suggestions (I got more than 9 million actually).

How can one read them? A private person needs a mobile phone with pre-installed QR code reader. But thanks to the Internet, anyone can download a reader for his model. Although, it should have a camera that can catch the image of the code. A QR code read by this software would normally take the user to the requested location on the Internet, or in case of a phone number – make the phone ring the number at once. The soft-ware is available on a lot of resources and is for free.

For a business who would like to implement a QR code system, it can be necessary to purchase a QR code scanner. It looks like a normal bar code scanner, but has a small camera-detector that catches the QR code image. The price lies somewhere between 150 and 400 dollars. They can be found in some online-shops.

How are they applicable for a Bed and Breakfast hotel? It was inspiring to see how one of B&B’s pasted its new QR code on Facebook and asked to check if it worked. Besides using for marking goods in a souvenir shop, here are some ways I can suggest.
-         QR code of your web page, blog or Facebook fan page (with Likify for example). Lead the potential customers to "Like"-button on Facebook og the Book Now on your web page!
-         Contact card: address and other contact details for your business card or brochures.
-         Some suggest to use QR codes for decoration and souvenir products: on T-shirts, cups, pens, etc. Use your imagination!
-         QR code for a map how to access your location.
-         If your property has limited access or the reception is not working 24/7: put a QR code with the phone number that would be accessed directly once the guest accesses it. He will be able to call you at once.
-         Use QR codes as voucher for reservation and check-in: if your have QR code reader on your phone, or a QR code scanner, the guest could show you his QR code confirmation, and you would know all about him at once.
-         Breakfast: make a QR code out of your today’s specialty recipe or history and paste it next to it. Your guest can read what the dish is about while enjoying his breakfast.
-         Give extra-service: create a QR code for the local Tourist Information guide or web page, and place it in the rooms. The guests would appreciate the possibility to check out places in the neighborhood, activities and events.
-         Use QR codes as coupons.

If you have any ideas or are using the QR codes already in your B&B, please share it with us!

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