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Hotels Adapt Business Centers for Today
Hotels Adapt Business Centers for Today's Traveler

By Nancy Trejos
January 28, 2014 9:24AM

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Rather than do away with the amenity, hotels are trying to adapt the business center for the modern-day traveler. Many are installing wireless printers so that guests can print from anywhere in the hotel. They are also bringing the business center out into the open so they can flow into the common coffeehouse-like areas that travelers now prefer.

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--IHG's Crowne Plaza is letting guests wirelessly print to the business center from anywhere in the hotel. There is also complimentary Wi-Fi and single sign-on access for the length of the stay, meaning once you check in and log on, you don't have to log off until you check out.

"We do know there is still a need to provide that functionality in the hotel, and we're continuing to do that," says Gina LaBarre, vice president of brand management for Crowne Plaza. "We want to make sure our guests are as productive as possible."

That said, some hotels have decided that guests can be productive without a dedicated business center.

Brian McGuinness, senior vice president of Specialty Select Brands for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, says that Aloft, Elements and FourPoints hotels no longer have business centers.

Instead, the hotels offer free Wi-Fi so guests can work anywhere on the property. "The hotel is the new connectivity center," he says.

Mike DeFrino, chief operating officer of Kimpton, says that many travelers are also using their rooms as their work spaces.

"In many cases, the business center has become the guest room with ample desk space, comfortable chairs and accessible outlets for various gadgets," he says.

For that reason, rooms at Comfort Inns and Comfort Suites have recharge stations with traditional plugs and USB ports at every desk. This year, nightstands will also get recharge stations. For those who don't want to work at their desks, the living areas include modular cubes that can serve as laptop stands.

Hotels are also experimenting with desk designs.

The newest Country Inns & Suites have small movable tables. Designers for Marriott Hotels are also working on a surface that can move around the room.

Each EVEN hotel room will feature a pull-down desk with multimedia port and white board so guests can work standing up. Beds will have reinforced headboards to give guests back support when they sit and work.

"At home, many people can wirelessly print from their sofa while relaxing, watching a television show and sitting with their family," says Amy Hulbert, managing director of design for Best Western. "Hotel guests expect the same type of integration and comforts."

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