Are hotel business centres really necessary in 2016?

By Chris Chamberlin , January 14 2016
Are hotel business centres really necessary in 2016?

TALKING POINT | Modern travellers are armed with more tech than ever before – often a laptop for serious work, a tablet for easy web browsing or for playing back movies and TV shows inflight, and a smartphone for the obvious tasks plus as an easy way to send and receive emails wherever you are.

But with these gadgets appearing in the briefcases and cabin bags of most seasoned travellers, it begs the question: are hotel business centres really still necessary in 2016?

For most of us, business centres are simply a place to print things out – such as airline boarding passes, itineraries and work-related documents – which can easily be replicated by emailing a file to a hotel’s concierge or front desk staff for printing.

That’s exactly what happens at the Four Points by Sheraton Brisbane, Steigenberger Hamburg and QT Sydney hotels which have done away with the traditional business centre in favour of providing a more personal touch, while the latter too supplies laptops for use within the lobby guest lounge:

Some hotels we’ve visited recently also had their business facilities out in the open rather than in a closed-off room – for example, the Hilton Los Angeles San Gabriel has a small station with two computers and a printer near its reception desk…

(The hotel was celebrating Halloween during our visit...)
(The hotel was celebrating Halloween during our visit...)

… while the Parkroyal Melbourne Airport has an open working room with collaborative tables joining the usual amenities, but which is located directly opposite from a grand piano and a large and often noisy pre-function area, rendering your own room a better option for anything beyond a quick print:

At the opposite end of the spectrum are hotels like the Parmelia Hilton Perth which maintain a more private and traditional business centre in its own room behind closed, noise-reducing doors, but which seldom seem to have anybody inside.

So, what do you think – are fully-equipped hotel business centres fast becoming redundant, or do you seek them out when choosing your next hotel and even look for less-common amenities like binding and laminating? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

20 Dec 2011

Total posts 14

Business centres are well and truly obsolete these days. On the rare occasion that I use one (for printing as the article suggests), they're always deserted. Decent in-room internet and a comfortable chair are all I need to work from a hotel.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1390

Definitely obsolete.

However access to a printer is definitely ocassionally needed.

I don't mind the PC in a lobby either which certainly seems to be the trend at Hilton properties globally.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

20 Apr 2015

Total posts 25

Working over all over South East Asia, I use hotel business centres and their meeting rooms often. It is far easier to hold meetings in person at the hotel than battling traffic in Jakarta or Manila. Also, open/public meeting rooms do not work in this part of the world where discretion is valued.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Jun 2015

Total posts 69

I travel to HK and China mostly for work and generally stay at shangrila hotels. Most of them have extensive business facilities but as the talking point suggests, they are almost always empty in my experience. I've only had cause to use them a few times and that is only to print, otherwise the desk in my room is sufficient or the club lounge. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 303

Just one computer and printer is needed in the lobby area these days I believe.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2011

Total posts 266

I don't tend to carry a mobile printer with me.

Virgin Australia Velocity Global Wallet/Virgin Australia Frequent Flyer card don't have bar codes on them, so I still do have to print out a boarding pass or I will have to hold my boaring pass QR code on my mobile device, which I am not really keen on.

For my Virgin Australia flights, I still do have to use a hotel's business centre to print out a boarding pass.  After scanning the QR code, you or I don't get a receipt after boarding pass scanning at the gate.

Qantas is good that the Qantas cash card has the bar codes that when scanned can be a boarding pass with the little receipt.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2012

Total posts 159

The ability to have access to a printer, is arguably the biggest benefit for most travellers, who would normally use a business centre. An in-room printer option could be one solution, though there is an expense to this. Otherwise short of the occasional need to have access to a large screen, or as has already been mentioned, conference facilities, most of us probably never use such centres, especially too as Wi-FI speed andquality in hotel rooms is improving and in many more hotels being offered free of charge.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 514

The 'convention' market and the hotel industry will tell you different - and probaby for good reason.

However, I also subscribe to the 'printer is the only valuable asset' argument. Naturally, it is highly preferable when the hotel can sting you $10-12 for printing 3-4 pages in their 'Business Centre' rather than a $1 per page from the Front Desk. That is why most 4.5-5 star hotels still cling to the concept of charging for wi-fi (disregarding loyalty levels here) while their competitors sensibly provide it free of charge (& generally use it as a way to attract more patronage).

Personally, there are not a lot of hotel 'Business Centres' that I've seen that are actually staffed by a human being. Most tend to be a small room with a few pc's and a printer with a charge-unit attached and little else. God forbid that you might need some actual office / business supplies, a projector, an electronic whiteboard or some assistance.. Counterintuitive, huh?

Most times, the use of a stapler or a few complementary notepads or pens etc can just as easily be obtained from the front desk.

The concept of Hotel Business Centres is generally outdated, unnecessary, redundant .. sure. But you can bet your booty that they will be maintained until they either stop producing revenue or when guests get sufficiently fed up and boycott them.

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

I think their days are numbered. It's a bit like having to take your secretary with you was.

Most of them I see in Hotels tend to have things missing anyway. Um, like the printer.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

The only reason is for printing but that seems to be covered by emailing files to reception desk or one hotel that I've just stayed at in Hong Kong which had a small printer in every room.

04 Apr 2013

Total posts 2

not obsolete at all - i use them extensively all over the world - especially the meeting rooms and holding rooms - for interviewing potential staff, for confidential meetings when discretion is important (no name on door) or neutral ground is important, for long meetings with AV and catering needs or where room needs to be cleared frequently. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

Completely obselete, people who need meeting spaces can pay for it in my opinion, it's not up to the hotel to have to provide freebies like this.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 514

Unfortunately, in most 4.5-5 star properties, they're very rarely the 'freebies' you suggest.

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 174

In over 10 years I have used a hotel business centre maybe twice.  Just give me access to a printer and I'm good.  In a public area is fine.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

14 Nov 2013

Total posts 42

They are obsolete, i only use them to print out documents which now days can be done at reception at most hotels.

Any business centre should be replaced with a all night kiosk where you can get a quick fix of snacks, wine or beer!

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 273

I think they are on the way out. However, apart from printing, I do still like them on business trips where I may happen to have a full free day and I want to spend it in an 'office' environment rather than the loneliness of a hotel room. I can do my 8 hours in the business centre and then retire to the pool/gym and then room to relax


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