Just because you're out of the office doesn't mean you have to be out of touch. Today many hotels, conference centers and airports are getting wired like never before.
Close to a quarter of all U.S. hotels offer Internet connections in their rooms, according to a survey conducted last year by Northern Arizona University's School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. About one in four properties also reported they had business centers where visitors could get online.
We looked at some of the most connected properties and facilities in the country and found it's getting easier than ever to send faxes and e-mail, make calls, videoconference or conduct a presentation from your laptop computer--without your business missing a beat.
But before you travel, remember:
- Getting wired is still expensive. Whether you want to send a fax from the airport or hook up your computer in your hotel room, expect to pay a considerable premium. Prices range anywhere from an extra $30 a night for a hotel with all the right electronic gizmos to several hundred dollars for a few hours of videoconferencing hardware.
- Don't assume anything. Hotels typically offer a two-tiered approach to connectivity. The more expensive concierge-floor rooms offer dataports and fax machines, for instance, whereas you may have to ask for a connection in rooms on other floors. Call your hotel in advance if you're not sure about its techno-amenities.
- Be patient. Keep this in mind particularly at airports, where there may be only a few fax stations or Internet kiosks. If you absolutely must send messages from airports, buy a cellular modem and pay the roaming charges. It's better than waiting in line--and missing a flight.
- Prepare for the worst. It pays to invest in software and hardware that helps you connect to various kinds of networks or allows you to make presentations from any kind of projector. Just because a conference center is wired doesn't mean it will run your programs.
Christopher Elliott writes "Crabby Traveler" for ABCNews.com and "Inside Interactive Travel" for the Interactive Travel Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Christopher Elliott is an Orlando, Fla., writer and independent producer who specializes in technology, travel and mobile computing. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and online. You can find out more about him on his website or sign up for his free weekly newsletter.