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What are hotel smartphones? They are room-docked smartphones provided to hotel guests as complimentary additions to their rooms. Exact implementation may vary, but such phones are able to offer a wide range of customized experiences of convenience.
For example, anyone who has done a fair bit of international travelling knows that feeling of being disconnected right after arriving at your destination. Even if your line can roam, you know that voice and data roaming charges can be a pain in your wallet or bank account, so you avoid making calls or turning on your mobile data, as much as possible.
At most airports, you get free Wi-Fi, but once out of that area, you are on your own. You get to your hotel room and have to make arrangements to get connected. Of course, many hotels now also offer free Wi-Fi. Some hotels are going a step further by providing guests with smartphones they can use all through their stay. Back in 2014, Engadget writer, Zach Honig, reported his experience with hotel smartphones at the the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui, a Hong Kong hotel:
Last month, the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong installed handsets in each of its 381 rooms. Guests can use the phone throughout a stay, with unlimited data (and tethering!), and calls to Hong Kong, the US, UK, Australia, China and Singapore included for free. It comes with Facebook, Instagram, Skype and a handful of travel applications pre-installed, and once you type in your Google credentials, you can add any other apps you want. Then, when you’re ready to check out, simply tap the “clear data” button to wipe your personal info and return the device to its original state, so it’s ready for the next guest.
Specifically, the handset provided was the Android-powered Alcatel Idol X. Well, you weren’t expecting anything in the class of HTC One; were you? Anyway, we think that this is a brilliant value added service for travellers who often have to swap SIMs on arrival in a new country and worry about getting online and staying connected. Mister Mo’s recent Ghana trip is a case in point.
What Are Implementations And The Benefits Of Hotel Smartphones?
Traditional room intercom can now be replaced with these smartphones, for guests to use in communicating with the hotel’s staff and services. Imagine a room phone with menus that let you order your meals from the kitchen without making a voice call. The phone can be pre-loaded with the full food and drink menu, so you can conveniently pick and choose what you want, and also specify exactly what time you want it.
Hotel smartphones can be pre-programmed with local emergency numbers (Police, Fire etc), so guests can conveniently get help should they need to. They can also be pre-loaded with local tourism and business information, as well. The possibilities of customisation and added value are abundant. Each hotel can offer as much a customized mobile experience as they desire to.
Such phones can also come with a local SIM card pre-loaded, so international guests have a local phone line to use on arrival and all through their stay. The user only needs purchase airtime for their use of voice and data.
It may not be something that every hotel can afford yet, but I think that more 4 – 5 star hotels should implement this and make their clients’ stay more comfortable. The Hyatt Regency has set the pace. Sheraton, Hilton, and others, over to you.
In the meantime, you should read the whole story, as it is interesting read: Guests at the Hyatt Regency in Hong Kong can use this smartphone for free.