Business centers – going out of business?

The New York Times (subscription required) reports that “as more travelers carry BlackBerrys and hotels install Wi-Fi, the traditional business center, with rows of computers and a front-desk attendant, are becoming obsolete”. With an increasing number of travelers carrying PDAs, laptops the need for business centers is going the way of the mechanical key. What has attracted the attention of an increasing numbers of hotel guests, per the article, are “corners” of hotels besides a number of public areas such as the pool, restaurants and even the fitness room where clients take their laptops while they multi-task by eating, working out and network as they work. Nevertheless, guests do need printers and copy machines for tasks like printing airline boarding passes – a feature that many kiosks now offer. As for business centers – they are undergoing makeovers to allow for mixing work and pleasure as in the “the JW Marriott Grand Rapids, scheduled to open this month in Michigan (that) will offer bar service in its business center. Printers will be delivered to rooms upon request”. Others such as the “Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago, is contracting out its business center to FedEx Kinko’s”. All of it only goes to underscore the dynamic nature of customers’ needs which make facility planning for both new and existing hotels a perennial challenge.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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