Keep It Simple!

In line with my recent blog post about the use of technology in meeting rooms, I have come to the conclusion that hotels in the luxury sector still have much work to do when it comes to the design and implementation of in-room technology.

As a business road warrior who spends countless nights in hotel rooms all over the world— predominately in the US, Europe, and Asia—keep it simple!

Admittedly it has become much easier. Connecting to Wi-Fi in many hotel rooms no longer requires a technology degree, but there is still room for improvement. More hoteliers are including basic Wi-Fi access in the room charge. This is essential, and every hotel should understand that their guests expect it.

Adequate lighting continues to be an issue with too many switches, all located in the wrong places. And please, can we have proper lighting over the desk? Access to electrical outlets proves frustrating as too many guests clamber under the table or desk in search of an inconveniently placed power outlet to charge their electronic devices. Many recently renovated properties have addressed this growing problem by ensuring sockets are placed near the desk and can accommodate international plugs—thank you!

Which brings me to the subject of desk chairs, they continue to be an issue in many hotels. It is possible to have a comfortable and practical chair that is still pleasing to the eye? For those of us who increasingly work while traveling, proper desk seating is essential.

By far the worst technology offender is the ubiquitous TV remote. I recently stayed in one hotel room with two identical remote controls—one worked the TV and the other the DVD. They were not easily differentiated and neither was easy to operate.

I sometimes wonder if the budget / economy sector of the hospitality industry hasn’t done a better job of adapting to the technology needs of its guests. There are many examples of first-class designs in this sector that give the guest exactly what is needed in an efficient well-thought out manner.

The Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie, Chairman of Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels, is one leader in the field of integrating technology into the guest experience. I came to this conclusion during my recent stay at The Peninsula in Hong Kong. He invests heavily in making technology user-friendly.  The joy of an in-house remote control designed with simple on, off, forward, and backward buttons made all the difference.

In recent years the tablet has crept onto our bedside table, as well as an app for just about everything in life. It does not matter if you are a business traveler or enjoying a leisurely few days in your favorite city, everyone wants to stay connected, and learn about the destination from a trusted resource. It was particularly nice to be shown around the Rosewood Beijing by Stewart Robertson, of BARSTUDIO—the Melbourne design practice involved in the hotel’s renovation project for the past six years—where thoughtful room design ticks all the boxes that the connected business traveler seeks.

With the advent of all this technology let’s not forget the end-user, and keep it simple!