Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Notes on Hotels

But the Bed's Still Useful: Michael Gartenberg writes:
As I'm sitting here in the hotel in Chicago working and waiting for my Chinese food to arrive, it occurs to me that I haven't used a hotel phone, hotel TV set of Hotel internet access in a very, very long time.
I certainly couldn't say the same thing. Here in Bangkok I'm pretty dependent on fixed Internet access from my hotel room (charged hourly or daily) and the network access (occasionally ropey but no worse overall than at my University in the UK) from where I'm working. Judging by the constant trickle of people through the hotel lobby taking advantage of the free but slower wifi, and the use of the half-dozen Wintel machines there, other visitors are pretty reliant on the hotel facilities too. I can get (and have gotten) email via my UK mobile phone's roaming agreements (GPRS, but no 3G here it seems, at least not for me) but the cost is extortionate. Eye-wateringly expensive in fact. So for now the hotel is where it's at, and it was pretty much the case in Hong Kong earlier this year too (though there, in-room wired fast network was gratis). Of course Gartenberg's right when it comes to the long-term prospects, and the idea of hotels making wads of cash from this sort of thing in 5 years' time just seems ridiculous. Richard Watson over at Fast Company tracks some current trends in hotel innovation, but for what it's worth here is just a few of the things on my wish list after almost 2 weeks in the Royal Orchid Sheraton Bangkok:
  • Technology Locker: It's a hit and miss affair knowing whether your in-room safe will hold anything more than a wallet, some jewelery and your passport. Don't make me buy a sub-notebook just so I can stash it in my room safely; give me a sensible sized secure locker, and while you're at it put some kensington locks around the place too (extra points for the luggage company that starts adding security lock ports on their hand luggage).
  • Lighten the load: Have you seen what we have to carry with us now just to keep going? Spare batteries, chargers for cameras, chargers for phone, chargers for laptop, chargers for PDAs, and cables to connect them all together. When I book my room let me choose from a variety of common adaptors and connectors that are ready-to-go when I check in. A powered USB port and set of phone cables will handle a lot of models, and is there any reason the same thing can't trickle feed my camera batteries too? Feeding a laptop that way might be a bit much to ask, but there are multi-adaptor chargers there too (though as yet, no MagSafe adaptor). Again, manufacturers could help by giving us more standard power ports (kudos to Canon for giving their pocketable camera battery chargers a standard 2 pin (radio style) power lead and to Apple for their tiny plug-in international power plugs on their chargers (with a standard port underneath, natch). I shouldn't even have to ask for an iPod dock and speakers, I really shouldn't. Really, get with the program.
  • My Space: I might be one of the few people in the world who quite likes hotel rooms, but even I would love to feel a little bit more at home. Think of all the things I could customise from the comfort of a website: Pillows, room temperature, reading material, choice of toiletries (I'll have Body Shop or Lush thanks very much, some cooling talc, and I won't be needing the sanitary towel disposal bags), fresh pressed pyjamas waiting for me, and the Thom Yorke cd that I haven't yet gotten around to hearing. Flowers and fruit would be nice too. You can skip the lousy beer in the minibar, but I'll take a couple of Erdinger Dunkel, or a nice Paulaner.


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