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What do business travelers want in the hotel of the future? Read this article to find out.
Seeking a Grander Hotel
Frequent business travelers – known as "road warriors" in hotel jargon because they make more than twenty business trips a year – want greater emphasis on service from hotels before new technological developments such as checking in and out with smart cards. This was one of the central conclusions of the invitation-only seminar on the Hotel of the Future held at London's Hyatt Carlton Tower Hotel last week.
"I want a hotel not only to provide consistency of service but also to empower staff to have the authority to solve my problem at the same time," said Ms Thomas, a European Media director and one of the seminar panels of frequent traveling executives.
Mr. Bebbington, who is another "warrior", on the road for three months or more a year, recalled how he had been horrified by the service at a top hotel in Singapore.
"I was charged a hefty deposit when Tasked to use a fax in my room and then had to suffer the indignity at check-out of waiting while a hotel employee checked my room to see if the fax was still there before the deposit was returned," he said.
Mr. Nadeem, a lawyer, also emphasized service saying he tried to ensure good treatment by establishing and maintaining contacts with key staff. "I like to use hotels where I know the general manager," he said. "I think it is very important to be recognized as a regular guest."
Another panel member, Mr. Paget, argued that the hotel of today is still trying to overcome the upstairs-downstairs syndrome of 150 years ago. He felt the main requirement "was the ability of reception to greet you and welcome you – and a card in the hotel room saying 'welcome back to the hotel' says a lot."
But Mr. Jim Evans, Hyatt's senior marketing vice-president, believed new technology could "improve efficiency and service, as well as controlling costs, while still retaining the human touch."
He suggested that while the pace of change over the past decade had been evolutionary, there would be a revolution over the next five years. "Hotels will change dramatically in what they offer their guests. The television console, for example, will become the central focus of the room for communications, entertainment and interactive technology,"
Hyatt was already experimenting in America with technology that enabled executives to check in to pre-assigned rooms by using credit cards in the hotel foyer to obtain a computerized room key and charge card. While technology was changing for the traveler, he said, it was also making reservations easier. Next month Hyatt starts trials to allow direct access to its hotel inventory over the Thisco travel web, at first just for travel agents but eventually for regular travelers as well.
It is possible that before long guests will be able to book their room, check in and check out, and receive room service from an automated kitchen without ever dealing with a hotel employee face to face. Not surprisingly, such investment in new technology will lead to higher room rates, Mr. Evans admitted.
It also emerged from discussions that the hotel room would most certainly be seen more as an office away-from-the-office, rather than a home-from home. Increasingly, the hotel room was viewed as a place to do business, hence the move towards built-in work stations with modern points, good lighting and well-designed chairs.
But the panel of executives still needed to be convinced that hotels would be able to guarantee the level of communications they offered now. The seminar also indicated that business travelers had little interest in environmental initiatives such as fewer bathroom toiletries or towels, and all expected an increasing proportion of rooms – and public areas – to become "no smoking".
Hyatt is not alone in trying to find what regular business guests want. All the large chains are carrying out trials. Westin, for example, has rooms where the bed becomes a couch at the touch of a button, giving the room a more business-like appearance. Jarvis is experimenting with the delivery of room service through a cupboard accessed from outside the room: a light lets guests know the meal is there. There remains one tradition hoteliers have yet to decide to keep: the chocolate left on the pillow at night.
5. Complete the correct information from the article Seeking a Grander Hotel under the following headings.
Facilities or services guests believe to be important.
Facilities or services guests dislike.
The type of improvements business travelers are uninterested in.
The changes or developments taking place or likely to take place in the hotel trade.
6. Look at the article Seeking a Grander Hotel again. Find words in the text to mean:
a) to give someone the power or right to do something;
b) gave special importance to something;
c) to make something certain;
d) permitted someone to do something;
e) became known, evident.
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