Can in-room personal computers liberate travelers from the heavy laptops they tote around with them? At least one hotel chain thinks so. Choice Hotels International is installing PCs with high-speed Internet connections in its hotel rooms. Choice Hotels' project could represent the single largest investment in hotel computer technology ever, if not the beginning of a new trend in the business.
Guests will have free access to the Internet but they will be charged a fee to utilize the word processor and spreadsheet programs on the computer. Think of it as an in-room premium similar to pay TV or a minibar.
But will the offering attract business travelers trying to lighten their load? Choice Hotels' Anne Curtis says that it's looking that way. "So far the four test hotels have been extremely well-received. Over 50 percent of our guests are going online. Guests are delighted with the amenity," she says. The next six months will dictate this trend's future.
Insider tip: Even if in-room PCs become commonplace, they won't eliminate the need for portables. Some business travelers get a lot of their work done on the plane, where we're still a decade away, at best, from having reliable computing devices installed in the seatbacks. This may be best for travelers just looking for an easy way to check e-mail.