I don’t know about you, but whenever I check into a hotel, I always wonder why they still bother with a bedside phone. None of us has used it for anything except dialing the front desk in about twenty years. Still, the hotel has to give us something to easily put us in touch with room service.
Increasingly, hotels are thinking outside the box when it comes to guest services. Smartphones, tables, and other high-tech electronic controls are increasingly taking over for old-fashioned remote controls and landline phones. Since business travelers make up the bulk of many hotels’ regular customer base, it’s obvious at least a few of these attempts are aimed at those travelers. Here are a few extras that hotels are offering to benefit business travelers:
- Free Wi-Fi—It began with LAN connectivity and expanded to today’s offering of in-room Wi-Fi. While some hotels charge per day for Wi-Fi use, many business travelers deliberately search for free Wi-Fi. TripAdvisor conducted a recent survey of hoteliers and found that 93% of responding hotels offered free Wi-Fi. Of those that didn’t currently offer it, 17% reported that they planned to begin offering it in the next six months.
- iPads—The Plaza Hotel in New York wows customers with an iPad 2 in every room. The iPad is used for communicating with hotel staff, adjusting the temperature in the room, order room service, and even print boarding passes. The Berkeley in London offers an iPad preloaded with games, videos, and newspapers in select rooms. For business travelers, the iPad can come in handy in helping you put the finishing touches on your presentation or check e-mail without unpacking your laptop. Of course, as one site pointed out, it’s far less expensive to purchase an iPad and stay at a more reasonably priced hotel, since most hotels offering iPads are exorbitantly priced.
- iPhones—While an iPhone at your bedside at check-in may seem unnecessarily extravagant while traveling domestically, overseas travel puts it in a completely different light. A Canadian hotel came up with a solution. The Opus Hotel in Vancouver provides an iPhone for use during a guest’s entire stay. The guest must pay for any international calls, but there would be no roaming fees, as the guest would have a Vancouver phone number with the phone. But phone service isn’t the only bonus to the temporary iPhone. Guests are free to download games and apps, which come in handy while trying to keep kids entertained. While this is a rare case, some hotels are beginning to offer high-tech smartphone docks that double as alarm clocks.
- Control 4 Systems—Imagine being able to close the drapes, turn off the lights in your room, and start a movie, all with the same touch-screen device. Control 4 offers IP-based home control systems, mostly found in upscale houses. Several hotels are now featuring in-room Control 4 systems, including 45 Park Lane in London, Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas, and Star Hotel in Sydney, Australia. For business guests, Control 4 allows customization to their own personal preferences, including the ability to schedule a wake-up call and save preferences for your next visit to that hotel.
I recently stayed at an Aloft hotel and they had an audio/video multi box to connect my own devices to the big screen TV and audio system. Pretty nifty.
While some of these amenities are only found in high-priced luxury hotels, it’s only a matter of time before technology has us all ordering room service via an app on our phones. Simply having the ability to connect to room service or the front desk via an intranet site would be enough for many business travelers.