Hotels Find New Ways to Help Guests Do Business - Julie Weed ⇢
Business travel is changing as fast as the liquid world it is floating in, so hotels are scrambling to change their public spaces to make them increasingly like co-working spaces.
Julie Weed via NYTimes.com
As part of a large survey project, Holiday Inn gave guests a journal to record what they did in the hotel and where they spent their time. The company found that business travelers used the hotel’s high-speed Internet connections and printing to help them get work done, but did not want to leave the lobby.
“Guests are social,” said Verchele Wiggins, vice president of global brand management for Holiday Inn. “They want to be productive, but they like to be around other people.”
This spring, Holiday Inn removed the business center at its hotel in Atlanta and introduced “The Hub” to test the concept of a lobby that also acts as a business center, living room and place to eat. “Travelers are multitasking all the time,” Ms. Wiggins said. They may be checking their e-mail while they are drinking their morning cappuccino, or printing a boarding pass while waiting for a taxi to the airport.
The lobby offers free Wi-Fi, power outlets to charge computers and phones, and a small row of computers and wireless printing. A so-called eBar allows business people to meet over cocktails, surrounded by library shelves.
“It’s the environment they want,” Ms. Wiggins said.
While many of the new services for business travelers are inspired by research and surveys, others are serendipitous. As part of the Hub, Holiday Inn installed a Wii game console for families to use, but it found that business travelers were using it more than leisure travelers. “We had to install another Wii for the business people,” Ms. Wiggins said.
Franchise owners around the country have seen the concept and are requesting a Hub on their property, Ms. Wiggins said, and any property that gets one will have its business center removed.
This is an odd article since it doesn’t compare or contrast these changes with what’s going on in business generally, like co-working, or flexible work arrangements. It doesn’t mention the strays that transiently use hotel lobbies for meetings without actually staying there, and it omits any mention of hotels like the Ace in NYC that have transformed their largest ground floor public area into an area that seems more like a library than a conventional lobby.