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By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (www.lma.ca)

Reaching its zenith in the mid-1990s following the proliferation of the personal computer, I have many fond memories of the hotel business center. Such facilities were a high priority for road warriors who needed to refine presentations, print materials, prepare travel itineraries or work on just about everything else, all while hotel staffers stood at the ready to assist wherever they could.

The advent of mobile devices, tablets and streamlined laptops have proven to be the business center’s downfall, rendering it as obsolete as the stapler and three-hole paper punch (anything involving paper really). Many have come to blame the millennial’s preference for new third space lobby modalities, but it’s likely that the sheer convenience of a smartphone and its numerous apps are the main culprit.

And yet there is still hope for this fledging facility! Deep within the catacombs of many brand franchise agreements lays a mandate for a business center and one with a primary physical location to boot. Even with its dwindling usage, this particular hotel amenity limps on in many properties. Despite these compulsory (and outdated) brand standards, the transformation of the hotel business center into a more contemporary space is all but assured.

There are many steps that can thus be taken to pay your respects to the deceased while preparing the future. If you are not restricted by your brand, plan an alternate ‘portable business center’ for your guests. Purchase one or two ‘loaner’ laptops (one Mac and one PC), making their safekeeping and distribution the responsibility of your concierge or another equivalent team position. A standalone printer can be stationed at a front desk location with Bluetooth or wireless linkages readily available to these laptops.

However, the big question now is: What are you going to do with this defunct space? Usually, a hotel business center was designed to be highly visible (think glass walls and door) and already secured to protect those (at the time) valuable computers.

Depending upon its size and location within the property, here are some options for you to consider. Be creative, as this is in effect, free space.

  • Grab and Go Café open on-demand with coffee, snacks and other consumables changed based on time of day
  • Wedding/Catering Sales Center displaying your finest table settings
  • Local Art Gallery with optional staffing and all items listed with telephone numbers/web links for those interested in purchase details
  • Pop-Up Store reserved for local/regional crafts
  • Mini-Spa Outlet for massages, manicures or other sample treatments
  • Reception Area to host small to mid-sized events

Lastly, if your archaic brand franchise agreement stipulates a business center, inevitably you will have to decide whether it is time to test your mettle. Examine and document the profitability of this space before you present your alternatives. See if they are prepared to walk in order to protect a facility that no longer meets today’s hotel guest. In all likelihood, they will be enthusiastic about breathing new life into an obsolete amenity.

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This article may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the author.

Editors note: To discuss business challenges or to discuss speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.

About Larry Mogelonsky

One of the world’s most published writers in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the owner of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited and founder of LMA Communications Inc., an award-winning marketing agency based in Toronto. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also a principal of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants and is on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes three books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013) and “Hotel Llama” (2015). You can reach Larry at larry@lma.ca to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.

Contact: Larry Mogelonsky

larry@lma.ca

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