With strong competition for the business traveller, one of the latest trends among hotels is setting up business corners or business lounges in hotel lobbies, allowing travellers to stay connected wherever they are.
Sheraton Hotels and Resorts has recently launched its Link@Sheraton, a lounge area situated at the hotel lobby featuring multiple internet-enabled workstations complete with complimentary 24-hour Ethernet and Wi-Fi access, computers and webcams as well as flat screen TVs, magazines and international newspapers.
“The Link@Sheraton caters to Sheraton’s business travellers who are always on the go. It is Sheraton’s way of inviting guests to spend more time out of their rooms and join the community in the lobby, connect to their work and to other people, catch up with emails or with the latest news or to stay in touch with those back home,” said Vincent Ong, brand director Asia Pacific, Sheraton and Westin Hotels & Resorts.
“Through consumer research, Sheraton knows that a significant portion of our customers want a place to go outside of their guestrooms, and in general, people want to be around other people. Building communities is central to Sheraton. Technology is the enabler, and it is shaping the face of business and the way communities are formed,” he adds.
Some hotels issue IDs to guests at the Link or upon check in, while others require the guests to key in their name and guest room before they can get access. To feature an all-in-one experience, Link@Sheraton is also providing a range of food and beverage options available round the clock.
Ong says: “By creating a communications hub in hotel lobbies that doubles as an internet lounge and a social networking hub, the Link @ Sheraton fulfils the need for business travellers to stay connected on the road and facilitates people to come together both online and offline.”
Currently, Link@Sheraton has been launched in 26 hotels in Asia Pacific, including Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers and Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers. Four more Link@Sheraton(s) are in development in China (Xiamen, Sanya, Haikou and Dameisha) currently and there will be 300 over Link@Sheraton(s) launched worldwide by the end of 2009.
Not only Sheraton, but Novotel hotels, a four-star business brand under the Accor Group, offer ‘business corners’ that are conveniently located at the hotel lobbies. Novotel’s guests will be able to access complimentary internet 24 hours a day on the latest Apple equipment including a 24 inch monitor. For Novotel hotels, there are no limitations on access, though the ‘business corners’ are meant for in-house guests.
“Guests habits are changing and more and more guests are traveling with their own laptops or have access to remote email and file storing services. Novotel has responded to this shift with the installation of ‘web on mac’,” said Evan Lewis, vice-president of communications, Asia Pacific.
He added: “This allows guests to remain connected to their office, manage travel plans or just update social networking pages at their leisure.”
According to Lewis, ‘web on mac’ installations are being implemented throughout the Asia Pacific network during 2009 and some of the hotels that have already implemented the business corners are: Novotel Hong Kong Kowloon, Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay, Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour and Novotel Beijing Sanyuan.
As for the Marriott brand, not all hotels under its brand have a business lounge at the lobby, but they present other alternatives.
“Most of Marriott’s full service hotels have Wi-Fi in the lobby area and allotted spaces where people can basically conduct small business meetings,” said Nina Herrera-Davila, manager of international public relations for Asia Pacific. “Some Marriott-branded hotels like Courtyard by Marriott Phuket on Patong beach, Surin beach and Kamala beach have computers in the lobby area. Our lobbies – such as with the Great Room – allow for such activity with the designation of larger open areas. The business centers are also usually located near the lobby so that it is easily accessible.”
Though Wi-Fi is provided in the lobbies, it is not complimentary. “Guest who pay for internet access in their room will get a code that allows them access to the Wi-Fi in the lobby,” commented Herrera-Davila.
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