Are hotels taking care of business travellers?

By David Flynn, August 14 2013
Are hotels taking care of business travellers?

There are more than 200,000 hotels in the world, and too many of those seem to fail at giving business travellers what they want.

That global hotel tally comes from the most recent estimates of online booking agencies.

And the #fail call? That's based on my own experience and tales shared by many business travellers and frequent flyers, from self-employed consultants to corporate comrades-in-arms.

Surely it's not that hard to treat the business traveller right. We're not divas waving a pretentious list of must-haves.

Once a hotel has covered the basics of a convenient location, cleanliness and a high standard of service, here are some of the business travel boxes they need to tick.

Room to work

How can so many hotels get this basic requirement of business travellers so wrong?

We're not staying at your hotel to party like C-grade celebs or 'chillax' for the weekend. We're there to work.

That means we need a couple of things, starting with a desk – something which a number of hotels are dropping in their attempt to give the rooms a more casual vibe.

As a journalist I probably spend more time pounding the keyboard than the average business traveller, but I don't believe any of us consider a sofa, lounge chair or bed to be the ideal laptop workspace.

And with a proper desk comes a proper chair  – anything from a standard secretary's chair to a swish Aeron-style masterpiece – with adjustable height and good lumbar support.

One of the worst offenders I've seen in this category is Singapore's Marina Bay Sands, which uses hard-backed fixed-height chairs with stiff fixed arms that are more appropriate to a dining room.

These didn't even let me get close enough to the desk to work comfortably, and worse, the hotel was completely unable to provide me with anything more suitable.

The final pieces of the working space puzzle: adjustable task lighting and a few spare power points within easy reach.

Wireless Internet access: fast and everywhere

For my money, in-room Internet shouldn't cost a red cent at any business hotel – especially not when it's already free at most backpacker hostels, and certainly not when the hotel is already charging you plenty for the room itself.

However, free Internet doesn't need to be a business-grade connection, as long as it's quick enough for zippy web browsing and flinging everyday emails back and forth.

If I want substantially faster speeds for accessing a remote network, streaming media or downloading and uploading supersized files, then I'm prepared to pay a reasonable premium for that – say, $20 per day. As long as I have the option and get what I pay for.

But the baseline should be Internet that's free and fast enough for everyday use.

And it should be available everywhere in the hotel, not just in every room (let it be said that there are still too many hotels where you can't even get decent wi-fi in the room).

Everywhere means the lobby, the club or executive lounge, the maze of meeting rooms – the whole property needs to be wired so that business travellers can be unwired.

Club lounge

I'm a big fan of executive or club floors which feature a guest lounge. On many business trips this becomes a de facto office outside of the room.

It provides a relaxed atmosphere where you can work solo, meet with clients, catch up on emails and wind down after the day.

Most lounges serve a light complimentary breakfast which beats having to battle the masses at the hotel's main breakfast buffet.

Add a variety of snacks throughout the day and evening, including cocktails, and a good club lounge gets me back every time.

Finding the X-factor

There's always an X-factor, and it's largely driven by personal preferences.

Some business travellers value a first-rate gym or selected fitness gear provided in their room.

Others appreciate hotels that are a little different from the mainstream pack – especially as smaller boutique and design hotels with a fresh feel and contemporary 'urban' design.

Some hotels are – shock, horror – getting truly innovative in gearing up for the business traveller.

One standout example is the full 24-hour room stay being rolled out across hotels in the Starwood family such as Sheraton, Westin, W and Le Méridien. It'll be a boon for business travellers who often find that flight schedules don't match up with a hotel's fixed arrival and departure times.

What do you look for in a hotel when you travel on business, and what are some favourite hotels which keep you coming back?

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Plantium

19 Jun 2013

Total posts 119

Thanks David for your article.  I could not agree with you more.  I travel every 2nd week to Sydney for work, and is almost impossible to find a hotel that caters for business travellers, and that does not blow most people's accommodation allocation. It is not like business travellers are not asking for the world, but hotels could quiet easily lock in a major income stream if they just think about what they would like if they travelled often for work.  The key things that I would like is, easy check-in, free wifi, paper, breakfast, more than just Fox Sports and Sky News from Foxtel, a room with a chair you can sit in for more than 10 minutes and of course the normal clean modern bathroom, an actual queen size or king size bed (not 2 beds joined together) plenty of powerpoints etc.  Hotels I am sure can afford this.  The hotel I stay in during the week, I can get the same room on a weekend for about a third the cost which includes it is about time these hotels actually reward the people that are keeping them in business but this will not change until a hotel chain takes the leap and tries to capture this part of the market

Virgin Australia - Platinum

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 87

You forgot to add in there a good mini bar drinks selection for when you knock off from a hard day.  :)

16 Aug 2011

Total posts 9

Great article David and great post Anthony. Agree with you both.

In addition, the hotels seem to think that all business travellers are male.. well it would be good if they could think that we are in the era of the working woman exec and that we need items like a powerpoint in the bathroom, or at least a power point near a mirror. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jun 2013

Total posts 366

I find the hilton hotels all have executive lounges,free Internet to H'Honors diamond members,and a desk in all executive rooms ,I mainly stay in hilton or Conrad hotels for this reason 

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