In the future, you may be able to look up the names of most of the strangers in your hotel lobby, thanks to the Internet. Other hotel guests may be able to look up your name online, too, if you decide to let them. Is this a good thing?
Many people already have profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networking sites, opting to allow total strangers see some information and photos about themselves—with more details available to an approved network of friends.
Add to that the craze for geo-location devices, like the iPhone, that pinpoint your location on a map, and "check-in" services, like FourSquare, that let you publicly post where you are right now—or where you plan to be soon.
Eventually, travelers may walk into a hotel lobby and choose to post online, via their portable Web-enabled device, who they are and where they are. They may also look to see information that other guests staying at the hotel have posted about themselves.
Using a Facebook-integrated app, you can learn the names and interests of many of those other people in advance of speaking with them. This information may make it easier for you to strike up conversations.
GoMio.com is aimed at the youth hostel market with its "Who Else Will Be There?" feature, which allows users to view the Facebook profiles of other users who will be at the same place at the same time.
Women walking into a hotel lounge, for instance, will be able to see photos and personal information about male users nearby, arranged by how physically close to those other users are.
(Don't want someone to see your Grindr profile? Push a button to block your details from appearing on that user's device.)
On the bright side, if you ever stayed in a hostel or hotel, you may recall feeling nervous when you walked into the common area and saw other guests who are roughly your own age. Which of them speak English? Where are they from? Do you have a mutual friend in common somewhere in the world?
But looked at another way, is it risky to share this much information to strangers? After all, most people traveling are relatively isolated (from family, friends, and co-workers) and somewhat vulnerable. Do you really want to advertise the details of how far you've traveled and how long you're going to be around to any stranger that's signed up for a service?
Let us know by posting a comment: Would you like to share your online profile with other guests at your hotel during a trip?
MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL
What's the best social network for travel? (25+ comments)
Where are you going in 2011? (200+ comments)
New travel stress: Facebook oversharing (10+ comments)