iHotel: Reconfiguring Traditional Spaces to Emphasize Connectivity
By Keith Simmel Principal, Cooper Carry | November 15, 2015
Technology is engrained in everything we do. It's in our cars, offices, homes and even the hotels we select. Travelers today, from millennials to baby boomers, are technologically driven and expect the ease and comfort that various forms of technology can provide. Many crave convenient and quick access to information. And with more hotel flags and brands than ever, hotels must incorporate high-tech elements throughout the building from the lobby to amenity spaces to the guest room in order to stay competitive.
The need and desire for high-tech connectivity is driving hotel owners and developers to evaluate what can be added to existing hotels, and what might be required in the future. Hotels that don't embrace technology will eventually become obsolete as technology continues to become less of a luxury and more of a necessity.
Lobbies and Public Spaces
Traditional lobby spaces are becoming more of a social hub with lobby functions such as registration and concierge services moving to periphery space. The lobby itself is now occupied by spaces that allow people to connect. Bars and lounges, breakfast and casual dining and even pop-up meeting areas are teeming with people. Several years ago, people would order a room-service hamburger and work on their computer with the television on in the background. Today, people are more likely to grab their tablet or laptop and camp out in the lobby where they can work, grab that burger, and feel a part of the larger social scene in the hotel.
Lobbies and public spaces have to accommodate the need for power sources. At the bare minimum, almost every guest travels with a cell phone, and, most of the time, also a laptop or tablet. Think about the lounge seating at airports that now have power stations where people tend to congregate. In lobbies and public spaces, designers are locating power sources in inconspicuous, yet convenient locations, near seating or dining clusters.
Access to wireless internet services in lobbies and amenity spaces is also a must. Since internet access is required for most activities on a phone, and data can be pricey, travelers don't just expect Wi-Fi, they demand it. It's the cheapest way to check-in with friends and family members while traveling, and many business travelers view it as a requirement so they are able to work on the road.
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