User interface stories from a Tokyo hotel (#2 in a series)

Here’s another one. The ubiquitous “Do Not Disturb” signs you see hanging on hotel room doors all over the world.

I didn’t think anything of it until I was heading out, tried to use my “Do Not Disturb” sign, and realized that something was wrong. My “Do Not Disturb” sign was not hanging on the inside handle of my hotel room door as expected. Instead it was somehow stuck *on* the inside of my room door.

Turns out the door is actually metal, coated with wood-like veneer, and the “Do Not Disturb” sign is basically a large fridge magnet in the shape of a “Do Not Disturb” sign.

Pros:

  • its easier to throw this sign anywhere on the door, instead of threading it on the door handle
  • normal signs can swing when opening/closing the door and fall off the handle, or get caught in the door frame. Using a magnetic sign avoids all that.
  • this is designed so the old way of using this sign still works – you can still hang it on a door handle if you want to.
  • the *shape* of a “Do Not Disturb” sign is important. If they had made this in a regular rectangle fridge-magnet shape, I would have ignored it, assuming it was a permanent sign inside the door, along with the signs for fire escape routes, and posted room rates.

Cons:

  • more expensive to make then a “normal” paper sign
  • designed too well to look like a “normal” door sign. It looks so convincingly like a “normal” paper sign that every sign I’ve seen posted in this hotel so far were all hanging on the door handle like usual. I suspect most people don’t even realise the sign is also a magnet.

So, while I like the idea, it seems like people just keep using the sign like it was the cheaper paper version, so not sure if this counts as a “success”.

4 thoughts on “User interface stories from a Tokyo hotel (#2 in a series)”

  1. not sure if you have this feature in your hotel, but at the ones i stayed at, they ran the hot water pipes directly behind the bathroom mirror so it doesn’t fog up.

  2. While the customers may not have been using the sign as intended, you will get some benefits from the staff using the sign correctly.

    * its easier to throw this sign anywhere on the door, instead of threading it on the door handle
    This is more important for staff who will be trying to clean the rooms as quickly as possible.

    * normal signs can swing when opening/closing the door and fall off the handle, or get caught in the door frame. Using a magnetic sign avoids all that.
    If it is stuck to the door when you check in, then you will get these benefits until you move it

    * more expensive to make then a “normal” paper sign
    But also more durable

  3. I personally don’t see the point of having a door sign that is also magnetic…its usually either one or the other right? why have a magnetic sign that looks like a door sign, and why have a door sign that acts like a magnetic sign too…

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