by James A. Martin

Avoid Grimy Hotel TV Remotes with LodgeNet iOS, Android App

Mar 28, 20123 mins

The LodgeNet Mobile smartphone app turns your handheld into a remote control for hotels' in-room entertainment systems. The app works well—but, unfortunately, you still have to touch that nasty remote.

Attention germaphobes: You know that TV remote control in your hotel room? The one that’s positively pulsating with bacteria? If you stay at a hotel equipped with LodgeNet’s in-room entertainment system, you can use your iPhone or Android device to avoid touching that virulent remote.

Well, almost.

LodgeNet, whose in-room entertainment/interactive system is reportedly connected to TVs in 1.8 million hotel rooms, has released a free app for iOS and Android called LodgeNet Mobile. (Current iOS version: 1.08; current Android version: 1.08.) The app enables you to change a hotel-room TV’s channels, control the volume, and power the TV on and off. You can select video-on-demand and, on your smartphone, watch movie trailers. (The screen shots below show the iPhone app left, Android app at right.)

LodgeNet Mobile iOS Android apps

The app also provides information about your hotel, including amenities and check-in/check-out times as well as basic information about nearby restaurants, bars, and events. You get basic reviews of restaurants and attractions, too. And you can click on addresses to view locations on maps and get directions.

I tested both the iPhone and Android apps at the W Hotel in San Francisco. Everything worked as expected. Setup took a few seconds. It’s a cool app that gives you yet another opportunity to use your smartphone–which is always a plus, in my book. Not surprisingly, my iPhone’s 3G connection made changing the channels on the TV a tad slower than when using my 4G Android. Either way, you’ll probably want to connect your device to the hotel’s guest Wi-Fi service, assuming there is one.

By June, the apps will include a feature that lets you quickly call housekeeping and room service, according to a LodgeNet spokesperson.

But remember the word “almost” a few paragraphs ago? Here’s the catch: You must use the remote control to turn on the TV the first time. Once the TV is on, you receive a code to type into your device to pair it with the TV. After that initial pairing is complete, there’s no more need to touch the remote.

Of course, the blanket or comforter on the bed is another magnet for germs, so you’ll want to avoid that, too. You might also want to clean all surfaces, doorknobs, the shower and toilet handles, and the in-room fridge with a pre-moistened anti-bacterial wipe. And don’t get me started on bedbugs. I’m still looking for mobile apps to address these concerns.