The Hospitality Push: Hotels Step up Services to Attract Travelers

Remember when your flight attendant used to walk through with a cart full of snacks, drinks, newspapers, blankets and pillows all for the price of… free? Once upon a time, airlines offered amenities up in the air that made the business travel experience a little bit cozier.

Apparently, hotels haven’t forgotten that loving feeling because amenities that made your trip more enjoyable up in the air are now being offered down on the ground. Hotels have stepped up, reinventing everything from hot breakfast to cool lobbies-as-business-centers for travelers on the go.

To meet the four percent increase in business travel from last year, hotels are supplying their tired, hungry, jet-lagged occupants with options. Omni Hotels & Resorts now promote “Get Fit Rooms” – a treadmill, two-pound dumbbells, an exercise mat, stretch cords, a bottle of water and a mini radio headset – all set up in your room.

Hotels are responding to a KRC Research poll that revealed 56 percent of business travelers want low-fat options on hotel restaurant menus, and 73 percent want healthy snacks in the room. It makes sense, especially after all those business cocktail and dinner hours designed for indulgence.

Business travelers are also looking to hotels for a better workspace experience. Gone are the days of the business center, usually a room of cubicles filled with desktop computers, printers and telephones. With the advent of smartphones and laptops, the needs of business travelers doing work at the hotel has changed dramatically.

Open lobbies with free Wi-Fi and comfy, cozy armchairs have replaced staid desks and copy machines. The point is to give guests an opportunity to make conference calls by the potted plants, print a boarding pass, hail for a taxi and drink a cappuccino with friends, all in the same spot.

“Guests are social,” Verchele Wiggins, vice president of global brand management for Holiday Inn, told the New York Times. “They want to be productive, but they like to be around other people.”

Look to hotels in 2012 to step in with comfort, luxury and amenities as they seek to focus on the quality of a traveler’s experience rather than just being one stop along the way.

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