Hotels with cool tech for the business traveler

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These brands offer helpful tools and gadgets for a smooth-running stay for guests.

You’d rather be home. You’re exhausted. You need to be on your game. It’s a business trip. 

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Thanks to the infusion of helpful tech into hotels across the world, a dreary work trip might not be too bad. More hotels are bringing helpful tools in to cater to business guests.

SEE: Travel and business expense policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Travelers need tech

“Smart home devices like Amazon Alexa have forged partnerships with brands like Marriott, and allow for travelers to ask Alexa for extra toiletries or room service,” said Yanni Poulakos, travel expert at Lola.com, a corporate travel management company. “This eliminates liaising with a front desk, guest services, or a concierge.

“From major brands to small operators, hotels are heavily investing in apps that allow for check-in from a mobile device, and the replacement of a room key with a smartphone,” Poulakos said. “This not only meets traveler convenience needs, it’s cost saving for hotels and potential for more eventual revenues, including booking-direct.”

“Hotels are also adapting to the need for additional convenience, with in-room amenities like gym equipment,” Poulakos added. Travelers can find devices like Mirror and Peloton, in addition to traditional fitness items like weights and yoga mats.
 
“The high bar to keep business travelers happy,” Poulakos said, will encourage competing hotels to turn to technology and innovation. As hotels address the need to simplify business travel, they are more likely to “attract and retain these travelers.” 

How robotics and automation are used in hotels

What’s the next big thing for the hotel industry? Robotics and automation, according to Saurabh Jindal, who runs Talk Travel, an app “to travel like a local.” “You can chat and discuss your needs with the robots as they perform their tasks in a highly efficient manner.”

Technologies, Jindal said, which enable fewer human interactions, and where automation reigns, will be the norm, like cutting-edge facial recognition systems for keyless stays. “This will ensure a more seamless experience for the end user,” he said, “and lead to reduced costs for the hotels.”

Here’s a look at a handful of hotels which are making tech a top priority.

The Marriott Phoenix Chandler caters to the business traveler.

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The Marriott Phoenix Chandler caters to the business traveler.

PHOTO: Marriott Phoenix Chandler

A hub for a bustling tech corridor, the Marriott Phoenix Chandler

The very gadget-friendly Marriott Phoenix Chandler Hotel is located in a bustling tech and manufacturing corridor in Phoenix, and it was designed with the business traveler in mind. 
 
Each room is equipped for the business traveler, with plenty of outlets and USB outlets, including on each side of the bed and next to the desk. The Wi-Fi equipped hotel features 28,000 square feet of event and conference space, and the hotel’s lobby bar, Proof 19, has two long communal tables with hidden outlets along the top of the tables. Also, at the M-Club, designed for the frequent traveler, outlets are located next to each table. 

Hotel Zetta is one of three Viceroys (The Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills and The Viceroy Los Cabos) with Volera powered Alexas in every room.

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Hotel Zetta is one of three Viceroys (The Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills and The Viceroy Los Cabos) with Volera powered Alexas in every room.

PHOTO: Viceroy

Hotel Zetta by Viceroy Group

Built in 1913, Hotel Zetta claims to be the only San Francisco hotel with Alexa technology in each guest room, and an Atari Pong Table in its Zetta Suite.
 
“We use tech at Hotel Zetta to create a more seamless environment,” said Mark Beevor, general manager. “Our technology allows our guests to use streaming subscriptions on the road.” 
 
Located where Union Square, SoMa and the Financial District meet, Hotel Zetta has newly installed Amazon Alexa voice assistants, powered by Volara, which Beevor said is the only provider of custom voice-based solutions for the hospitality industry.
 
“With Volara guests can speak commands to Amazon Alexa to order services from guest rooms,” Beevor said, for “ordering a toothbrush, setting up a wake-up alarm, syncing music playlists, finding out dining specials at The Cavalier restaurant, or” ordering the hotel’s in-room spa treatment.
 
The Atari Pong Table features games with retro sound-effects, bouncing lights, the classic Pong game and a Bluetooth speaker, so players can customize a Pong tournament experience with custom soundtracks, an LED clock display and USB charging.  The control panels on the table can be hidden, and turned into a retro coffee table.
 
Other tech-centric amenities include Oculus Go virtual reality headsets, and complementary Nintendo Switch portable gaming consoles. 

Additionally, the Playroom has pinball machines, shuffleboard, and neon artwork.  Each guest room has broadband Wi-Fi, streaming platforms, such as Netflix, and in-room wireless chargers.
 
Business travelers are “extremely important,” Beevor said. “Most business travelers are road warriors that spend just as much time on the road as they do at home, so having a comfortable and engaging environment for them to stay in is important.”

Two other Viceroy Hotels in California use Volara-powered Alexa: The Viceroy L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills and the Viceroy Los Cabos.

“When looking at voice technologies,” Viceroy wanted “a partner flexible with integrations to third-party applications,” Darren Clark, vice president of technology for Viceroy Hotels & Resorts said in a release. “Volara understood our vision, and it already had integrations to more than 40 hotel technologies, including IPTV, room controls, PBX, music, and work order-management. Security was also important. Volara ensures  guests recordings are never associated with personally identifiable information. All guest recordings are deleted within 24 hours.”

Volara’s integration to INNCOM by Honeywell allows guests to control lighting, Do Not Disturb/Make up Room settings, and room temperature. With integration to Sonifi,  guests use their voice to control the TV, change channels and adjust the volume; integration to the ALICE Hotel Operations Platform is for guest requests for pillows, toothbrushes, minibar refreshments and the like. With integration to iHeartRadio guests can play music and listen to podcasts; and allows direct calls to the front desk, concierge, valet etc. Hotel Zetta’s Volara integrations add the MCOMS Guest Room Entertainment Platform, and iHeartRadio. 

Hotel Plaza Athenee New York

The Hotel Plaza Athenee New York recently began adding new technology in many of the suites where business meetings are held, including the ability to control lighting, temperature, TV, Wi-Fi and more. Executives can screen-share presentations, too. 

Ten high-end hotel chains feature Courant chargers in rooms, and offer an option to buy.

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Ten high-end hotel chains feature Courant chargers in rooms, and offer an option to buy.

PHOTO: Courant

10 luxury hotel chains with Courant chargers

All four of the available Courant wireless chargers are in hotels that include the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Soho House, Fairmont, Lotte NY Palace, William Vale, and Shutters on the Beach, for a total of 10 large hotel chains, and more than 1,000 rooms in the US and worldwide.

“The Courant ecosystem fits uniquely in different areas of the (hotel) property,” said the Courant co-founder Monish Sabnani. “The Catch line are in hotel rooms, lobbies, and restaurants, while the Carry and the docking system, are at the front desk or concierge.” 

Guests can access power at the hotel, or on-the-go.  Sabnani added, “They can recharge Carry at the hotel, and if they choose to keep the product, they can be automatically billed via credit card.”

“Hotels must provide up-to-date services to their customers,” Sabnani said. “Wireless charging is still a fundamentally new concept, and we’re staking a claim to be the preferred vendor to high-end properties in the next form of in-room power.” 

“Courant can be found at a boutique hotels like Casa Del Mar and in a number of the larger luxury chains like the Soho House, globally.”

Chargers are a standard for business travelers. “The first thing anyone does when they get into their hotel room is charge their phone,” Sabnani said. 

“For business travelers specifically, staying charged is extremely important , as they’re likely on the go for their entire trip, with little downtime to recharge in-between meetings. Providing business travelers with chargers that are universal and portable” is convenient. Additionally, the ability to recharge without a wire means one less item to pack.”

The Park James Hotel in Menlo Park/Silico Valley has added tech to rooms, including the cloud-based platform KEYPR.

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The Park James Hotel in Menlo Park/Silico Valley has added tech to rooms, including the cloud-based platform KEYPR.

PHOTO: broughtonHotels

Park James Hotel by broughtonHotels

The Park James Hotel in Menlo Park/Silicon Valley has added technology to guest rooms, including the cloud-based platform KEYPR.  
 
The 61-room boutique hotel, located near Facebook headquarters, opened in September 2019. The hotel’s KEYPR platform includes a mobile app, mobile key, in-room tablets, and, soon, TV casting through Chromecast. 
 
KEYPR’s mobile app allows guests to use their phone or tablet to check in and out, and allows guests to receive push notifications, order room-service, make special requests, communicate directly with hotel staff, and receive messages from the hotel whether on- or off-property. Guests can also use the app to provide feedback in real time.

KEYPR’s in-room tablets allow guests to set alarms and reminders, order and schedule room services, make maintenance requests, listen to music, and stay up-to-date with hotel and local events. The tablets also provide pre-installed, third-party app content like The Wall Street Journal and Scribd, and give guests access to hotel and local information.

The hotel integrated the KEYPR platform with ASSA ABLOY’s keyless locks with KEYPR’s mobile key solution, the Stay INN Touch app, which allows guests to communicate with the hotel staff in real time through direct messaging, and INNCOMM’s room automation system, so guests can control environmental aspects of their room through the Park James Hotel app and KEYPR’s in-room tablets.

Also see

Courant chargers are available to use and/or sample while staying in 10 high-end hotel chains.

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Courant chargers are available to use and/or sample while staying in 10 high-end hotel chains.

PHOTO: Courant

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