With competition for their patronage stiffer than ever, business travelers are finally getting the services they want from the hotel industry. Faxing, copying, and typing are available at most hotels, and guests can expect rooms to have two phone lines, data ports, and functional desks. What's more, express check-in and check-out, voice mail, and curtailed phone charges have even the weariest of business travelers smiling.
Recently, hotels have been bundling additional services into a whole new class just for business travelers. These programs cost a bit more, but are less expensive than paying for each service individually. "It's almost like buying a first-class ticket on an airline," says Randy Petersen, editor of Inside Flyer Magazine. "But it's got nothing to do with being a frequent traveler and everything to do with amenities."
Last fall, Hilton Hotels launched BusinesSavers, a package that includes local phone calls, outgoing faxes, movies, and health-club use for $10 to $20 more than the corporate daily rate. The goal, says Michael Ribero, Hilton's senior vice-president of marketing is to "provide essentials you need to work without limiting your ability to relax in that room."
KIMONO, ANYONE? Under Hyatt's Business Plan, which it is rolling out at 30 locations on Jan. 18, guests get an in-room fax machine, free telephone calling-card and 800-number access, continental breakfast, and a phone on the desk and on the bedside table for $15 above the regular room rate. "We will create an environment that makes the hotel room an extension of your workplace," says Darryl Hartley-Leonard, president of Hyatt Hotels.
Inter-Continental Hotels allows guests who book its Global Business Options program to choose among these four amenities: an upgrade to a suite; double airline miles; a $25 credit toward food, beverages, or hotel services; or a personal gift from the region, such as French wine or a kimono. The program, about equivalent to corporate rates, was recently expanded to more than 80 hotels around the world and extended through August.
TALKING HEAD. New technology will continue to lead to breakthroughs in lodging that will benefit the business traveler. Hotels are eagerly awaiting interactive media capabilities, of which movies on demand and videophones are just the start. Ribero estimates that in three years, the hotel office will be able to communicate with guests through computerized TVs. Marriott's room-of-the-future includes global interactive video-conferencing and
ergonomically correct work stations