No, we're not talking about a breakfast buffet.
Turns out, hotels looking to snag business travelers needn't worry so much about whether or not their room service is up to snuff. Chief of mind? Free Wi-Fi. According to a new report from the Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) research and education branch, between 64 and 69 percent of business travelers say they would book a room directly with a hotel through its website or app if they were able to get free Wi-Fi or high-speed Internet access. As Condé Nast Traveler Contributing Editor Mark Ellwood wrote last year, "Forget Michelin stars, it’s Mbps that matter."
By the numbers, business travelers definitely spend a lot of time plugged in—no surprises here. Seventy-three percent connected to Wi-Fi or high-speed Internet in a hotel common area (read: lobby, business center) in the past year. Of those who connected in their room, 55 percent spent at least an hour a day using the Internet connection for work; while nearly half spent at least one hour online for leisure. Other items high on business travelers's wish lists? More power and USB outlets (35 percent), streaming services on TVs (hi, Netflix), chargers for laptops and phones in guest rooms (32 percent), keyless or mobile room entry (27 percent), and TV sets that can access the good old World Wide Web (also 27 percent). Tired of testing your hotel's Wi-Fi, and just wondering what hotels stand out for these amenities (and more)? Read on.
The luxury chain leading the way
Stay at any of the Four Seasons hotels around the world, and you're guaranteed business amenities that have a touch of Old World: think one-hour garment pressings, overnight shoeshines, limousine services, multilingual concierges. From Paris to Vancouver, Four Seasons hotels are also moving firmly into the modern, with boarding pass kiosks in the lobby, translation and interpretation services, dedicated conference staff, in-room high-speed Internet access, 24-hour business centers, and iPads (plus smartphones) for loan. As of 2015, the Four Seasons offers complimentary Wi-Fi in its hotels around the world, on a single network accessible by an unlimited number of personal devices, which means no more losing connection or moving from a "FourSeasonsParisLobby" to a "FourSeasonsParisRoom." The Mandarin Oriental group, with 29 hotels across the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and the Asia-Pacific, is a (very) close second.
The hotel that gets it right
The 339-room Peninsula Chicago may not be the Windy City's newest hotel, but a recent, major revamp has made it one of the country's most high-tech: Here, a tablet system in 11 languages allows guests to control virtually every facet of the in-room experience, including the thermostat, lighting, music, HD TV programming, and room service. If you don't want to lug a tablet—or three—around your room all day, that’s where a set of LED panels come in handy. Positioned throughout each room, these touch-screens control many of the same functions, including valet calls, thermostat controls, and privacy options. There's also complimentary high speed wireless and wired Internet access, and an iPad docking station to stream content to the television. Forgot your phone charger at home? Fear not: Just open your nightstand drawer and choose from one of several options, ready for use. (VOIP-enabled phones allow for free international calls via the Internet.) Thanks to a partnership between Peninsula hotels and Beats by Dre, travelers will also have access to products like wireless headphones, sweat and water-resistant wireless earphones for use in the fitness center, and an in-room speaker to create their own soundtrack.
There's an app for that
For business travelers who spend an inordinate amount of time on their devices, the convenience of being able to check in (and customize their pillows) from a hotel's app has its immediate advantages: According to GBTA's same report, more than 60 percent of business travelers have at least one hotel chain’s app on their phone, and more than half have at least two apps, which they use for checking on their reservation, managing a loyalty account or reward points, and booking stays. Some are more notable than others: The Four Seasons app lets users request everything from a car from the valet or turndown service from housekeeping; Starwood's has a feature that allows guests of the hotel to unlock their rooms with a simple tap of their smartphones. The Hilton app, which allows for a digital checkout and has a keyless mobile entry feature, also allows Hilton HHonors members to be able to select their specific rooms after booking a reservation, starting a day before their stay.