Not every hotel can meet the needs of modern-day business travelers. While most places have a business center with PCs, printers, and a copier, these are baseline amenities. To find a hotel that can cater to a 21st century entrepreneur, get the answers to these seven questions.
- What’s included in the business center? In addition to inquiring after the business center hours and facilities, ask about the costs to use its machines and services. For example, some places charge $7 for the first page of a fax and $2.50 for each additional page. Printing can cost up to 25 cents for black-and-white pages and $3 for color pages. If you plan to print out presentations, ask whether there is a larger color printer on-site to get a high-quality print. Document scanning, paper shredding, and courier services are additional amenities to inquire about. The expenses can add up, so sort out the details with the hotel first. Also, find out how many computers are in the business center and what software is installed on each computer. At a minimum, you’ll need the Microsoft suite to open attachments and create documents.
- Does my room have free WiFi/Internet access? While every hotel should have Internet access, some places charge about $13 a day or even $1 per minute, while others offer the service for free. Ask what the hotel charges and if it runs on WiFi. If the hotel uses wired connections only, ask if complimentary Ethernet cords are provided or if you must supply one. Also find out the connection speed. “High-speed” Internet can have a loose interpretation, so at minimum ask if the service is DSL, cable, T1, or T3.
- Does my phone have multiline, speakerphone, and voicemail capabilities? Teleconferencing is a great way to conduct or attend business meetings while you’re out of town. If you’re traveling sans mobile phone (or if you’re staying in a place with poor reception), ask whether the hotel offers free local calls and voicemail capabilities. Make sure your in-room phone has multiple lines so you can conference with various people. Additionally, ask if the phone is cordless or has speakerphone — this can come in handy for those long, drawn-out meetings.
- Is there a technology help desk? An on-site IT department may be useful, especially if you’re having firewall, compatibility, or printing issues during your stay. Hotels that offer these services usually give their IT members pagers so you have technical assistance 24/7.
- Are there translation services available? Perhaps you’re traveling internationally and you’re still learning the local language. Translation services can add a huge boost to your productivity. While some hotels hire multilingual staff to help translate, other hotels have outsourced translation services that can interpret e-mails, contracts, and other business documents.
- Can I print from my room? Being able to print from one’s room is a top request by business travelers. With remote printing, you can print from your laptop, BlackBerry, or even iPhone. Simply attach the document you want printed, get a release code, and go the business center when you’re ready.
- What audiovisual equipment and services are available? You may have to give a presentation while staying at the hotel so find out what equipment and services the hotel offers. Some hotels host event service companies that provide technical expertise, AV equipment rentals, and production assistance, such as setup and taping speeches. Some even include special lighting to create ambiance or project your company logo across a wall. These services are packaged at around $175 per day for a basic tripod or in-house screen, projector, and all cabling. Having this extra flair can amp up your presentation and leave a lasting impression on clients.
Whether you’re there for a business meeting, conference, or simply to get away from the office, booking the right accommodation can help you prepare for the event that brought you there in the first place. And with additional services, such as 24-hour room service, overnight dry cleaning, and having a complimentary Wall Street Journal delivered to your door, finding the right hotel can maximize your stay and make you feel right at home.